Andy Ruiz Jr v Anthony Joshua 2: Talking points ahead of the big heavyweight title rematch in Saudi Arabia

Ruiz v AJ II takes place on Saturday
Ruiz v AJ II takes place on Saturday

Boxing expert Chris Oliver looks at the key talking points ahead of Saturday's second showdown between Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua.

The first fight

The first encounter on June 1 will go down as not just one of the biggest upsets in heavyweight history, but in boxing history. Anthony Joshua entered the ring in Madison Square Garden as an overwhelming favourite to retain his WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO titles against Andy Ruiz Jr, who came at a little over a month's notice to replace Jarrell Miller, and all looked to be going to plan in the early stages.

After a feeling-out process in the first couple of rounds, Joshua dropped his man in the third stanza and the routine victory that everyone expected seemed imminent. However, the script was ripped to pieces when Joshua went in for the finish and was caught with a big left hook, before quickly hitting the canvas himself, and in much more trouble than Ruiz was.

Mayhem broke out in New York and the champion was lucky to survive the round, going down again and being saved by the bell as further punishment loomed. Joshua never looked the same after that and while he took the fifth on all three judges' scorecards, he was beginning to look very tired in the sixth, and was put out of his misery in the seventh.

Dropped heavily early on in the round and again soon after, he failed to convince the referee he was fit to continue and Michael Griffin waved it off to give Mexico their first ever heavyweight champion in spectacular fashion.

Conspiracy theories

In the days and weeks that followed that historic night in the Big Apple, the excuses put forward by fans and some sections of the media for the dethroning of British boxing's king were varied and plentiful, as if people refused to believe what they had witnessed.

The first explanation offered was that AJ had suffered a panic attack before the fight and collapsed in the dressing room, a theory which tied in with the fight being delayed and the ring walks coming much later than planned. Then, Joshua's father was brought into the equation as he was picked up by the cameras directing his frustration towards promoter Eddie Hearn in the ring after the fight, and the finger was pointed at an alleged pre-fight bust up between Joshua Snr and the Matchroom boss.

Anthony Joshua was knocked down four times during his defeat
Anthony Joshua was knocked down four times during his defeat

There was also plenty of focus put on the Brit's body language in the ring before the bout, with replay after replay thrust upon us, seemingly showing him looking uneasy as the MC, Michael Buffer, went about his business and his whole demeanour was questioned and analysed.

One theory that continued to do the rounds was that Joshua was dropped heavily in sparring, suggesting his preparation had been far from ideal, and marks on his face in fight week only acted as fuel for that fire. That seemed very possible, unlike the ridiculous suggestions on social media that it wasn't really Joshua who fought that night and was actually just a lookalike of the Watford man, which just highlights how much some struggled to make sense of what they had seen.

All of these rumours were strongly denied by the man himself, Hearn and anyone involved in Team Joshua.

Styles make fights

Joshua is certainly considered the more versatile, being noted for his aggressive style and explosive power, but also showing he can box well and more patiently behind his jab when needed, most notably in his points win over Joseph Parker. Ruiz, on the other hand, knows only one way of fighting and that is to walk forward, apply pressure and let his combinations go when in range.

Joshua holds most of the physical advantages, being the taller man by four inches and boasting a longer reach by eight inches, as well as having by far the more aesthetically pleasing physique, but there is one department in which Ruiz holds the edge - hand speed. This had a huge impact on the first fight as, every time they traded at close quarters, the challenger came off best and he was able to get his shots off quicker and more cleanly. It also allowed him to counter successfully with regularity when Joshua stepped in behind his jab or overcommitted.

Joshua swept the first two rounds on the cards as he kept it long and behind his jab, but it was when he abandoned that cautious approach and closed the gap, looking to land power shots, that he got caught and never recovered. This presents the tricky question of how AJ approaches the rematch. Does he attempt to be mobile and dictate the fight with his jab, or look to get on the front foot and push Ruiz backwards, something the Mexican isn't comfortable with doing.

Both tactics carry risk, as the former would just invite the pressure of Ruiz and can prove very tiring for a man as big as Joshua, while the latter option puts him in the firing line of the quicker mitts of his rival. To counter those arguments, though, Joshua knows he can hurt Ruiz and might fancy his chances of finishing him off this time if less reckless when going in for the stoppage.

He had success on the outside in June and it's not that hard to envisage him breaking his man down with the jab as the fight goes on. Joshua was the considered the puncher going into the fight but it was actually Ruiz who did more more damage with his power punches, and knowing that he was able to take AJ's best shots must be a big psychological boost for the new champion.

Ruiz doesn't need to do anything differently here. Joshua does, and that will determine how the fight goes.

Andy Ruiz Jr stunned Anthony Joshua in New York
Andy Ruiz Jr celebrates after stunning the boxing world

Mind games

How the fighters are mentally is a big part of what makes this fight so fascinating, as we don't quite know how the first encounter has affected them, and won't do until the first bell rings.

We'll start with Joshua, who didn't just suffer his first defeat as a professional but did so in such devastating fashion and has subsequently had to deal with accusations that he quit on his feet in that seventh round. Whether or not that is the case, he certainly didn't have much 'fight' left in him by that point and that is because it had been beaten out of him by Ruiz.

The heavyweight division is littered with examples of fighters, especially knockout artists, who have never quite been the same once they lost their air of invincibility with a first defeat, even more so when it came by stoppage. Consequently, many have questioned whether it is wise to take the rematch straight away, instead of opting for a confidence-building tune-up fight first. If there are any lingering mental demons from that night in America, then jumping straight back in with Ruiz could prove a costly move.

However, if there were problems in the build-up or some physical issues then he will be confident of gaining revenge if those things have been addressed and corrected. There is the strong possibility that he underestimated Ruiz as well, especially with him coming in as a late replacement, and a fully focused Joshua could be a different proposition.

As for Ruiz, becoming heavyweight champion of the world may have given him a new level of confidence and taken his game up another gear. So often we hear fighters talk about how winning a world title helps them raise their game again and that is reflected in subsequent performances, which is a worrying prospect for British fans.

On the other hand, he has lost that surprise element now. He played the nice guy first time around, posing for pictures with Joshua and the belts at the press conference and coming across as just happy to be there, but that tactic won't work again. There is also the possibility of his desire and hunger not quite being the same now he has climbed the mountain and reached the summit, although he has been saying all the right things in the run-up to the rematch to suggest that is not the case.

What happens next?

There is no doubt that a loss on Saturday night would have far more disastrous consequences for Joshua than it would for Ruiz. A victory for the 2012 Olympic gold medallist puts him back where he was beforehand and he can label the New York defeat as a blip, before moving on to a clash with the winner of Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder. The whole Ruiz chapter will be passed off as enhancing his legacy by proving he can come back from adversity like all those greats before him.

However, a second successive defeat leaves him facing a very steep road back to the top and a rebuilding process that would not only take a long time, but may well be impossible with his confidence in tatters. It would also be catastrophic for his fortunes outside the ring, as he can probably say goodbye to many of his lucrative endorsement deals if he does again suffer defeat.

While a defeat for Ruiz would hardly be good news, such was the impact of his victory in the summer that he would still be in a much better position than when he started the year, both financially and career-wise. He could even be in line for a third dance with AJ, if the rematch is entertaining or close enough, while the current heavyweight landscape ensures there are plenty of other big fights out there for a former champion of the world with an exciting style.

And if he pulls off the victory again, then his list of options will be endless - similar to the number of potential noughts on the end of his next pay cheque.

Andy Ruiz JR and Anthony Joshua will meet on Saturday
Andy Ruiz JR and Anthony Joshua will meet on Saturday - click for our guide

Ruiz Jr v Joshua II: Big fight details

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