I know why Anthony Joshua will win his rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr. I believe this for a plethora of reasons, I interviewed AJ before, after and before his fights with Andy. The AJ that will take on Andy in Saudi Arabia is a better and more focused boxer, that has abandoned the showbiz build-up to his fight for a rugged focus that will win back his belts.
As a presenter and reporter, I am lucky to not just speak about big events or people, but to ask them questions and look them in the eye. I looked AJ in the eye and saw a change.
Anthony Joshua is a good role model. I can say this from interviewing him many times. I have seen him help other fighters. In-person, he is respectful, he acknowledges people and he takes the time to not just say hello, but most importantly listen. He listens and I believe he learns.
When I first interviewed Anthony Joshua before his first fight in America, I interviewed a man that was juggling many balls; boxer, sometimes promoter, commercial model and businessman. The heaviest ball was promoting brand AJ in America, rather than focusing on defeating the little known Andy Ruiz Jr.
As you can see in the interview we had, we spoke about how he wanted to put on a show, not just win a boring fight. I believe it was that ‘show’ that ended up costing him his belts. Remember, just weeks before Deontay Wilder had delivered another devastating knockout. Setting up the stage for AJ to try and replicate Wilder’s bombsquad highlight reel.
As we all know the fight did not go as AJ planned.
Hence, why in my next interview with him, as he announced his rematch with Andy, I knew I had to ask him if this time his sole focus was about winning.
What I saw? Well, the show was still there because it was a press conference. Andy had a sombrero but more important the belts were now on his side of the table. AJ was focused, he occasionally joked on stage, but he was different in our one on one interview.
In this interview AJ was far more ‘short’ with his answers, the tone had changed and he was more ruthless in his responses. This was an Anthony Joshua who had been turned in to a meme, he had not just tasted defeat but been showered in embarrassment.
Andy was supposed to be a stepping stone to bigger fights. However, the first Mexican American champion had seemed more like a bolder that AJ despite his size could not smash his way through.
AJ had also just come off the back of an interview with Sky Sports where he had aired his dislike for Lennox Lewis. The public was seeing a very different side to AJ. In my opinion, I prefer inspirational AJ to the more short and ruthless version. But, I understood where this side of him came from.
In our, last interview before AJ set off to Saudi Arabia, I saw a mixture of the two sides of his character. AJ was physically slimmer and mentally focused. He was still his inspirational self, he was still a man for the community and a leader. However, in defeat he learned that false friends only follow glory, the media will turn their back on your very quickly and despite the claims, he was not unbeatable and thus could juggle life in and out of the ring.
His lack of a fresh trim indicated a camp that was not focused on aesthetics or the showbiz of boxing- it was all about securing the win.
He is a mature and smart man. So I won’t say he was definitely influenced by one of his own younger protégés. But, his preparation did remind me of how Joshua Buatsi looks before a big fight. He is essentially a completely different man. Rugged and ready to go to war in the gym. Then fresh-faced and ready to implement that hard work come fight night.
In the first fight, AJ was physically built for Big Baby Miller. He was full of muscle, ready for a slow powerful battle. He wasn’t ready for Andy’s surprisingly quick hards or good stamina. He was also, physically sick at the time. This time, it will be different.
Thus, I think AJ is ready to win and win big. In the first fight, he lacked focus and wanted to put on a show. Now he wants to win at all costs. Now he will not be surprised by Andy.
Now I have to say Andy is a really nice guy. I interviewed him. I shook his hand. I went in for that bro handshake- Andy did not move when our shoulders collided. He is far sturdier than his physical appearance would suggest.
We live in a world where people obsess over aesthetics. Yet, we forget it is not how you look but how you ‘compete’, it is not style but substance that makes the difference. Andy has substance, he has been boxing since he was 6 years old.
Yet, his biggest power is not making people want to punch him in the face. He gives off an aura of friendship. He just seems grateful to be in the same room as people. Yet, come fight night that facade is abandoned and he is a beast in the ring.
Yes, since gaining the belts his interviews have become a little more cutthroat. But, I see that more down to how people ridiculed his appearance before the fight, rather than him secretly being the Mexican Mike Tyson.
Neither Andy or AJ was like Mike. They do not need to carry themselves in such an aggressive manner. But, on 7th December there will be fireworks in the ring and only one man will be left standing.
My money is on Anthony Joshua, the next two time heavy champion of the world.
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