Can Better Sparring Help Joshua in Rematch?
Sparring was ultimately a factor in Anthony Joshua’s loss in his first fight with Andy Ruiz Jr., and his promoter, Eddie Hearn, says things will be different this time around.
Back in June, Ruiz knocked Joshua down four times in New York’s Madison Square Garden to upset the then-unbeaten fighter and claim the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight titles. Ruiz had come on one month’s notice to serve as a late replacement for Jarrell Miller, who was set to challenge Joshua before drug test failures.
Hearn feels the late swap in opponent and short came, combined with a unique look and size for Ruiz, made finding appropriate training partners hard to come by last time. Hearn, however, promised things are different now.
“We’ve got that under control,” Hearn said. “Sparring is something we’ve been working at. First time around we only had four weeks, and three weeks of sparring. We found guys but probably not the guys we really wanted. Now the sparring is top class. He is focused and looking great. Eight weeks to go. We’re not interested in looking at Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder or anything else. It’s just about winning one of the biggest heavyweight events of all time.
“It’s so difficult to replicate the style of Andy Ruiz. The guy is 6’1″, he’s [19 stone (about 266 pounds)], and he’s got speed like a middleweight. It’s one thing getting a sparring partner in, it’s getting them to let their hands go against Anthony Joshua. Would you want to do it? You’ve got to be mad to even spar with him, let alone fight him. [Last time] we tried to get the sparring in, we struggled a little bit, no excuses, but this time around the preparation has got to be spot on.”
Original Story: Sky Sports