Former boxing world champion Johnny Nelson admits Andy Ruiz Jr does not look the part “aesthetically” but Anthony Joshua should not take his opponent lightly when they meet on Saturday night.
Joshua and Ruiz Jr face off against each other at New York’s Madison Square Garden with the British boxer’s WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles on the line.
“Ruiz aesthetically doesn’t look the part,” said Nelson, speaking on behalf of online gambling company BetVictor. “But that’s the mistake a lot of his opponents have made. The only person he’s lost to is Joseph Parker. He may look out of shape but he’s got fast hands and he’s comfortable with that. A lot of the heavyweights in the past don’t look like AJ but they could bang and had good hand speed.”
Nelson, the longest reigning cruiserweight world champion, added: “For Ruiz, this is his biggest fight, so when he gets in there he’ll be thinking, ‘Wow, the whole world’s press is here, the whole world’s TV is here.’ There’s a lot of attention on him.
“This is the AJ show. Joshua is the world champ and he believes he is the best in the world. So Ruiz has now stepped in to this opportunity of a lifetime as the best, most prepared fighter.”
For all his praise of Ruiz Jr, Nelson can only see one winner on Saturday night in Joshua.
“I’d be very surprised if this went past the halfway mark,” Nelson said. “Anthony Joshua will be far too sharp, too accurate and too tight for Ruiz. We’ll see a young lion in AJ going out there in America, showing this is why he fills Wembley Stadium and shouting, ‘This is me.’”
Nelson added: “People want to see Joshua’s debut in the States, and if the Americans love him like the UK love him, I think it’ll be a long time before he comes back here to the UK. Tyson Fury showed it can be done in America and I’m sure AJ will do the exact same.
“So [Deontay] Wilder can shout, Fury can shout. AJ just has to be AJ. He’ll still be there. He’s the one they are talking about. He’s the one that they are all aiming for. Why is that? Because he puts bums on seats.”
Anthony Joshua is 1/25 to emerge victorious on Saturday with BetVictor, with Andy Ruiz Jr at 10/1 and 33/1 for the draw. For full odds, head to www.betvictor.com