‘Don’t hook with a hooker’ – Joshua on Ruiz loss

Anthony Joshua has opened up on the reasons for his shock defeat by Andy Ruiz Jr, saying he made the fatal error of playing to the Mexican-American’s strengths.

Joshua suffered a huge upset defeat by Ruiz (33-2) at Madison Square Garden in June 2019, falling to a seventh-round TKO and the first defeat of his professional career.

But the Watford man says he learned the lessons from that awful night to regain his IBF, WBA and WBO world heavyweight titles via a masterful unanimous decision victory in the rematch in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in December 2019.

He told Men’s Health: “I think it’s all about adapting. Different circumstances require different preparation. It was the same war, but I had learned a lot from the first battle. Ruiz isn’t the type of fighter that you go head to head with. For the first fight, I was planning on going in there and trading with him. But there’s an old boxing saying: ‘You don’t hook with a hooker!’ So, what did I do? I went in there and hooked with a hooker and the actual hooker came out on top.

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“In the second fight, I went in there and he tried to box with a boxer. And I came out on top. I had to learn what my strengths were and what his weaknesses were, and then I just boxed to those. That’s your basic foundation: never play to someone else’s strengths. In anything you do, everyone has their own strengths. If you play to theirs rather than yours, they are always going to come off better than you in the long run.”

That solitary blip on Joshua’s professional record to date saw many experts and fight fans quickly hop off the AJ bandwagon, but the fighter himself says the criticism he has received – especially on social media – is something he must find positives from.

“I think that it’s hard to ignore it. I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t pay attention to any of that, because it’s impossible not to see it,” he said.

“I started my social media on my own and, even though it has turned into a business page, I still handle a lot of it myself.

“I think that it’s fine to have doubters, as long as you don’t believe what they’re saying the whole time. You have to prove your doubters wrong. When they don’t believe, you should always believe.

Joshua is now preparing to defend his titles later this year against the 39-year-old IBF mandatory contender Kubrat Pulev (28-1) – likely at London’s O2 Arena in November or early December per promoter Eddie Hearn.
And if all goes according to plan there (Joshua is a heavy 1/8 favourite with the bookmakers), it’s hoped he will move on to a blockbusting unification clash with fellow British world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury next summer.
The pair have already agreed in principle the financial structure of a two-fight deal – with a 50-50 split for the first bout and a 60-40 share for the winner in the rematch.