Anthony Joshua is set to make his professional debut in the United States next month when he defends his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles against Andy Ruiz Jr at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The former Olympic gold medallist was scheduled to face the unbeaten Jarrell Miller up until last month; however, the American tested positive for a banned substance and lost his licence to box.
Joshua is -3300 in the boxing betting to maintain his unbeaten record against Ruiz Jr. Success in the States will help his profile ahead of a potential huge unification contest against Deontay Wilder in the near future.
— Mirror Fighting 🥊 (@MirrorFighting) May 12, 2019
Joshua first became world champion when he stopped American Charles Martin in the second round of their contest for the IBF belt in April 2016. Successful defences followed against Dominic Breazeale and Eric Molina.
The British boxer’s biggest test of his career came against a legend of the heavyweight division in Wladimir Klitschko in front of 90,000 spectators at Wembley Stadium in 2017. AJ was rocked in the sixth round as the Ukrainian looked to be on the verge of victory when he floored the younger boxer. Joshua got up and recovered well, though, before stopping the 41-year-old in the 11th round to claim the WBA title.
A third major title arrived for Joshua in March 2018 when he added the WBO crown following a points victory over Joseph Parker at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. His opponent from New Zealand was resistan but well-beaten on the judges’ scorecard at the end of the 12 rounds.
Joshua was last in the ring last September when he returned to Wembley to face Russia’s Alexander Povetkin. The three-belt champion needed seven rounds to despatch Olympic gold medallist from the Athens Olympics in 2004.
The preparation for his next fight should not have affected AJ too much as Ruiz Jr is a similar reach and height to Miller. It will be the American’s second world title shot as he faced Parker for the WBO belt in Auckland in 2016 where put up a strong showing but lost by a majority decision.
— Reuters Latam (@ReutersLatam) May 1, 2019
Since that loss to Parker, Ruiz Jr has won all three of his fights, with victories coming against Devin Vargas, Kevin Johnson and Alexander Dimitrenko. The latter came on April 20 and therefore he has had very little time to rest before his training camp for the Joshua bout.
Ruiz Jr is aiming to become the first world heavyweight champion from Mexican descent. If he is able to stun Joshua, where he is +1200 in the betting to do so, it will be one of the biggest upsets the division has seen since Mike Tyson was beaten by Buster Douglas in 1990.
Joshua will be keeping a close eye on Wilder and Tyson Fury, who are both scheduled to fight over the next couple of months against Breazeale and Tom Schwarz, respectively. A showdown with either of those men will be huge for his status as one of the all-time greats. For now, though, the focus will be putting on a good show in front of a new audience in the United States.