Should Anthony Joshua risk missing out on an Andy Ruiz Jr rematch or risk facing the unified world heavyweight champion without truly knowing what went wrong the first time?
Britain’s Joshua, 29, was humbled by massive underdog Ruiz on 1 June in one of heavyweight boxing’s biggest shocks.
Ruiz left New York with the IBF, WBA and WBO world titles and Joshua’s team said they would exercise their right to a rematch, although no such fixture has been announced yet.
BBC Radio 5 Live commentator Mike Costello believes Joshua must move quickly in order to put the loss behind him, while analyst Steve Bunce has had a change of heart.
- Podcast: Costello & Bunce debate Joshua’s future
Rebuild or repeat?
Ruiz – a late stand-in for his bout with Joshua – “changed the whole scene” with his seventh-round stoppage win, according to Costello.
The 29-year-old landed four knockdowns in the win and has since criticised Joshua’s boxing ability.
Costello said: “If you were in the Joshua camp, would you say yes to the Ruiz rematch next? I would. Otherwise I think Joshua is the type of character to stew over this for a long time.
“There is also the worry that if he didn’t face Ruiz next and someone else beats Ruiz, that will hover over him for the rest of his career. He wants to put that Ruiz rematch right.”
But Amir Khan, among others, has warned Joshua to rebuild first, and Tyson Fury’s promoter Frank Warren feels the former champion should take “time out”.
Bunce said: “When we sat in New York after that fight, stunned, right then I said he has to get a rematch and get rid of the demons before they get too embedded.
“Now I have changed my mind and I’m not sure the rematch makes sense. One or two of the tweets Joshua’s team have put out, talking of going back to the drawing board, suggest that what went wrong is not something they can put their finger on.
“The further away we go from the disastrous night for British boxing and Joshua, the less inclined I am to think the brains in charge of Joshua are going to run head first at that rematch.”
Which rematch is bigger?
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American Deontay Wilder holds the WBC world title – the only major belt not held by Ruiz.
Britain’s Fury claims he has signed a rematch with Wilder for 22 February, provided each man can get through contests without suffering their own damaging defeat later this year.
Wilder and Fury shared a thrilling draw late in 2018 but the subsequent excitement began to wane when it became clear none of Wilder, Fury or Joshua would fight each other before the summer.
“Now we have two massive, massive rematches,” said Costello. “Which is the bigger? The draw between Wilder and Fury has created less drama than there will be around Joshua and Ruiz.
“There is the feeling that if Joshua loses again there aren’t too many avenues to go down to resurrect his career. That element alone adds a volatility to the rematch.
“By the time Fury and Wilder comes around we will be excited, even more so if Joshua has the titles back. That would make Wilder and Fury an even bigger fight.”
Bunce added: “In my opinion, the amount of question marks hovering over AJ and Ruiz make that the better fight.
“This is not the era we predicted or that one anyone predicted. Going forward, who can safely predict what will happen later this year? All we know is big things will happen.”
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