Danny Flexen examines the relative standing of Anthony Joshua, Andy Ruiz, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder
The heavyweight division, at the very top level, has been turned on its head in the last year, not least by the upset victory scored by Andy Ruiz over unified heavyweight king Anthony Joshua in June. This followed just six months after a Tyson Fury still relatively fresh into his comeback from a two-and-a-half-year hiatus drew with WBC ruler Deontay Wilder, after a bout most thought he had done enough to win. Since these results, the four men have reassessed, so we consider where they are at.
His behaviour since the defeat has been by equal turns admirable and disconcerting. The refusal to blame anyone or anything for the upset is to be respected, but the frequent talking in vague philosophical extracts and a seeming reluctance to afford Ruiz Jr any credit causes concern. As he intends to stay with coach Robert McCracken, it is perhaps a further worry that the pair will get a maximum of eight weeks together between the GB Performance Director’s return from the women’s World Championships in Madrid, and Joshua’s Saudi rematch with Ruiz Jr on December 7.
Life appears to have been one long party for the Mexican-American since he won the belts but looks can be deceiving. He will doubtless train hard for the rematch under Manny Robles, expecting a better version of Joshua. Not only that but with this newfound adulation and the possibility of a unification with fellow PBC heavyweight Wilder if he gets past AJ once again, Ruiz could be more motivated than ever.
Since the Wilder draw, Fury has shed more weight and sharpened up with trainer Ben Davison, first hammering Tom Schwarz in June, then, earlier this month, labouring against a spirited Otto Wallin after suffering severe cuts early in the fight. Initial prognoses that the lacerations could delay a projected February date for a rematch with Wilder are swiftly questioned, but it looks increasingly unlikely that Tyson will fit in another interim bout, even if Wilder 2 is delayed.
The WBC champion, inactive since a one-round blowout of Dominic Breazeale in May, is in the midst of preparations for his return bout with Luis Ortiz, likely for November 23. Their first contest, in March 2018, saw Ortiz seriously rock the champ before being stopped in round 10. Ortiz has not looked great since and Wilder will hope to improve upon the initial result. Should that happen, then it is on to Fury again next year and a far trickier challenge.