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The Avila Perspective, Chapter 31: Hollywood Swinging Again and More

David A. Avila

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Hollywood

In a place once famous for staging some of the best entertainment during World War II, prizefighting returns to the saloon of the Hollywood stars.

360 Promotions brings back its boxing series on Sunday Jan. 27, with former titlist Maricela “La Diva” Cornejo (12-3) facing Erin “Steel” Toughill (7-3-1) in the main event at the Avalon Theater in Hollywood. It will be streamed live on www.360promotions.com page.

The last time Cornejo stepped in the boxing ring she battled for the WBC super middleweight world title and lost to Franchon Crews-Dezurn by decision. Since that moment in September 2018, she dropped down to super welterweight at 154 pounds.

“I feel stronger and comfortable,” said Cornejo, 31, who is originally from the state of Washington.

On the opposite corner will be Toughill, who though not boxing since 2006, has been busy in mixed martial arts and fought in 14 MMA bouts. Whether fighting or training throughout the years she’s always been in the gym.

Over the years I’d run into Toughill, especially in Huntington Beach. I remember seeing her fight Laila Ali on TV and Kuulei Kupihea at the Quiet Cannon in Montebello, Calif. She just loved competitive fighting.

It’s been a few years since Toughill has boxed, but she’s someone who fought Dakota Stone and Jacqui Frazier-Hyde the daughter of the great Joe “Smokin” Frazier. Staying in shape was never a problem for the 41-year-old Orange County fighter.

Cornejo, 31, has shifted to Hollywood for training because of involvement in a Hollywood movie with actress Gina Rodriguez. She also teaches boxing to a small group and is training with the father of David Benavidez and Jose Benavidez.

As she worked with about a half dozen students at the City of Angels Boxing Club near downtown L.A. she looked very slim and energetic. Dropping down in weight can be a tricky endeavor but last week boxing fans saw Amanda Serrano drop from 140 to 115 and obliterate an Austrian girl in less than a minute.

Tom Loeffler, the head of 360 Promotions, never staged mismatched fights especially with female bouts. Remember the two upsets by Mexican girls over Louisa Lawton?

“Uninformed people don’t realize how competitive this fight is going to be,” said Loeffler, one of the top promoters in the world. “Erin Toughill is very confident in this fight and she has always stayed active even if she hasn’t been in the boxing ring for a while.”

A number of young guns also fill the fight card at the Avalon including New York’s Brian Ceballo (6-0) meeting Randy Fuentes (8-7-1) in a welterweight clash set for six rounds.

Another youngster set for action is George Navarro (pictured) who lives in nearby Huntington Park but trains at the Wild Card in Hollywood. He’s been fighting for 13 years as both an amateur and professional.

“I just have a passionate love to fight,” says Navarro, 21, who fights at super flyweight but will be at bantamweight for this fight against Anthony Torres of Visalia. “I want to start my own era.”

Years ago Hollywood stars would arrive at the same saloon to raise money for the war. That era has long gone but now stars come to see boxing on a regular basis at the Avalon.

Doors open at 3 p.m. For tickets go to this link: www.360Promotions.us

Riverside Roustabout

An army of fighters are gathering in the hills of Riverside, California for upcoming fights this weekend and the next month when Abner Mares, Jose Carlos Ramirez, and Genaro Gamez and Saul Rodriguez hit the road for ring wars in the next few weeks.

Josesito Lopez (36-7, 19 KOs) spearheads the warrior force that train at Robert Garcia Boxing Academy. Lopez faces WBA welterweight titlist Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) on Saturday Jan. 26, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Fox will televise live.

It’s especially appropriate that the 34-year-old veteran Lopez opens up with his cannons. The Riverside native was one of the first waves of fighters from the area that has grown from two boxing gyms to more than 12 gyms.

Back in the 1990s the city famous for oranges and the historic Mission Inn was still a sleepy town. Guys like Lopez, Chris Arreola and Mark Suarez were part of a wave of young boxers trained by the now departed Andy Suarez at Lincoln Boxing Club.

When Suarez passed away in March 2006 a void was left for a short while but the spark he made at the tiny gym has become a firestorm for prizefighting. Lopez is one of his former students and all of those Suarez disciples were taught to fight with heart or go home.

The skinny as a rail Lopez has always had that easy going demeanor that fools people into thinking he’s a softy. Those that faced him found out otherwise. Nobody ever had an easy fight with Lopez. You can ask Victor Ortiz, Marcos Maidana or Andre Berto if Lopez was an easy touch. He was about as harmless as a lit stick of dynamite.

Years ago, Edwin Valero was the most dangerous man alive. The Venezuelan knocked out 27 out of 27 who faced him. Even in sparring the super featherweight assassin took no pity on people entering the boxing ring. On one particular sparring session Valero knocked out five consecutive opponents within seconds. He could whack and he liked whacking guys unconscious.

Then, they motioned for Josesito Lopez to get in the ring as if sentencing him for electrocution. The skinny Riverside fighter calmly entered through the ropes and methodically sparred two rounds, then four rounds then six rounds with the remorseless Valero. Lopez was the only one not rendered unconscious that day.

Some of you may not know Valero but the super featherweight world champion was one of the most feared fighters in three weight classes. He allegedly committed suicide after killing his wife in 2010.

Lopez has faced killers in and out of the ring. Now after all these years he faces yet another heavy-hitter.

“There are a lot of people that don’t understand the ins and outs and what I bring to the table,” said Lopez. “To a lot of people it’s going to come as a surprise.”

Thurman has been out of action for two years and that can only mean hunger.

“It’s great to be back. I’m looking forward to this fight 22 months in the making,” said Thurman. “It’s going to be a great show and I‘m happy to be here.”

Another Riverside Kid in Action in Houston

Also on Saturday Jan. 26, about 1,630 miles west of Brooklyn, a Golden Boy Promotions fight card features another Riverside trained fighter Vergil Ortiz Jr. (11-0, 11 KOs) fighting Mexican veteran Jesus Valdez Barrayan (23-4-1, 12 KOs) in a super lightweight scrap. DAZN will stream the fight card from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.

Ortiz, 20, is a native of Dallas, Texas but trains with Robert Garcia in Riverside. So far the thin framed football loving prizefighter has been stopping guys colder than a blindside shot from a Cowboy safety.

The feature card showcases Mexico’s young super welterweight world champion Jaime Munguia (31-0, 26 KOs) defending the WBO world title against Japan’s Takeshi Inoue (13-0-1, 7 KOs).

Munguia is a long-armed slugger whose best defense is those unpredictable wallops he throws from weird angles at absurd times. He willingly accepts two of yours for one of his in any exchange. So far he’s gambled correctly.

Japan’s Inoue isn’t coming all the way to Texas to lose. Fighters from Japan are in many ways like those from Mexico. They refuse to quit. A number of Japanese fighters have come to America and returned with straps like Masayuki Ito. He did a number on Chris Diaz in Florida and captured the WBO super featherweight title last year.

It’s never a sure thing when it comes to Mexican or Japanese fighters.

Another world title bout on the DAZN card features Puerto Rico’s Jesus M. Rojas (26-2-2, 19 KOs) defending the WBA featherweight strap against China’s Can Xu (15-2, 2 KOs) in a 12 round world title bout.

Last August, Rojas suffered a loss against Jojo Diaz in a riveting slugfest in Los Angeles, Calif. Though he lost the fight, he kept the title because Diaz was overweight and ineligible to fight for the title.

Rojas is a tough customer but has problems with boxers like Xu. But can the Chinese fighter keep Rojas off of him? The Puerto Rican fighter is like a human avalanche; he just keeps coming with blows. DAZN will stream all of the fights live.

Fights to Watch

Jan. 26, Saturday 5 p.m. FOX Keith Thurman vs. Josesito Lopez; Tugstsogt Nyambayar vs. Claudio Marrero; Adam Kownacki vs. Gerald Washington.

Jan. 26, Saturday 6 p.m. DAZN streaming Jaime Munguia vs Takeshi Inoue; Jesus Rojas vs. Can Xu; Vergil Ortiz Jr. vs. Jesus Valdez Barrayan.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

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Downtown LA Fight Results From the Exchange

David A. Avila

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Downtown LA Fight Results From the Exchange

LOS ANGELES-Built in 1931 the Exchange was the former home of the stock market exchange for the West Coast. On Thursday night it was the home for professional boxing.

Jessy Martinez led a slew of prospects ready to showcase their fighting skills among the many business types at the Exchange located on the 600 block of Spring Street. He didn’t need more than one round to reveal his talent at the Bash Boxing show.

Martinez (14-0, 9 KOs) used the first minute or so to determine the incoming fire from Mexico’s Carlos Huerta (6-5-2), a fighter of similar height and speed. Once he learned the magnitude and strength of the punches coming his way, Martinez (pictured on the left) unfurled his own combination and saw his right cross visibly do damage.

A slow developing 12-punch combination by Martinez rocked Huerta who tried to evade the blows to no avail. Finally an overhand right dumped a bleeding Huerta into the ropes as referee Wayne Hedgpeth immediately waved the fight over at 2:26 of the first round.

It was a short but destructive win for Martinez who fights out of toney Woodland Hills, California.

“Hard work pays off,” said Martinez.

Another featured fight saw Compton featherweight Adan Ochoa (11-1, 4 KOs) slug it out with Chile’s Juan “La Maquina” Jimenez (8-9) for five destructive rounds. Though Ochoa had the height, speed and skill advantage, the Chilean fighter walked through every exchange and was cut in the first round because of his reckless charges.

But he fought hard.

Ochoa seemed to have Jimenez in trouble early with single power shots, but was unable to put the final touch. In the fifth round a clash of heads resulted in a gash above Jimenez’s forehead and blood came streaming down. The fight was stopped and due to the cut caused by an accidental clash of heads, the fight was stopped and Ochoa was deemed the winner by technical decision 50-45 twice and 49-46.

“He’s an Hispanic fighter and all Hispanic fighters are tough,” said Ochoa.

A welterweight fight saw Vlad Panin (7-0) use his physical superiority to defeat Mexico’s Daniel Perales (11-19-2) in a four round contest. Panin is a fighter of Belarus lineage and had solid support from his fans who saw him handily defeat Perales by unanimous decision.

Other Bouts

Five of the bouts featured four-round fights and the best of them all saw Orange County-based Victor Rodriguez make his pro debut. He looked very sharp for someone getting his baptism under fire.

Rodriguez (1-0) trains at Grampa’s Gym in Westminster and showed off a very sharp left jab that kept Osman Rivera (2-12-1) from penetrating into the fire zone. Both boxers had large followings and the crowds exchanged competitive cheers for their fighters throughout the four round match. Rodriguez was just a little too sharp for Rivera who was slightly frustrated. All three judges scored the fight 40-36 for Rodriguez.

Other results: Keehwan Kim (4-1) defeat Percy Peterson (3-16-3) by majority decision in a super featherweight contest that opened the show.

Isaac Lucero (1-0) won his debut by knockout in the first round over Anthony Zender (1-6) in a welterweight clash. Lucero floored Zender twice before the fight was stopped at 1:29 of the first round.

Austin Gudino (5-0) remained undefeated by decision after four rounds versus Nobelin Hernandez (0-4) in a super lightweight fight.

Moises Fuentes (4-1) slugged out a win over Sacramento’s tough Moris Rodriguez (8-16-1) after six rounds in a welterweight clash. Each round was hotly contested. The scores were 60-54 twice and 58-56.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Thomas Hauser Enters the Boxing Hall of Fame

Arne K. Lang

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Thomas-Hauser-Enters-the-Boxing-Hall-of-Fame

There were 25 names on the Observer Category ballot sent out to those casting votes for the next round of inductions into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Voters could choose as many as five. The top two vote-getters would get in.

A range of disciplines are included in the Observer category: journalists and photo-journalists, TV executives, broadcasters, record-keepers, statisticians, cartoonists. Some of the 25 potential inductees are long dead such as Percy Dana the great photographer who was omnipresent back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when the San Francisco Bay area was swarming with big fights. The majority of those on the ballot, however, are still active. They are contemporaries of the electors.

This reporter had a strong feeling that longtime boxing writer and current TSS mainstay Bernard Fernandez would make the cut. Induction into the IBHOF is by nature a lifetime achievement award and Fernandez certainly qualified on that count. Among those stumping for him was ESPN’s Dan Rafael who shares his picks with his readers. Rafael’s opinions circulate widely among his peers.

We guessed right with Fernandez and then had more reason to strut when the other top vote-getter turned out to be frequent TSS contributor Thomas Hauser.

We didn’t see that coming. Yes, we thought that Hauser was more than qualified. Considering some of the “Observers” that were ushered into the Hall before him, his induction was long overdue. But much of Hauser’s work falls under the heading of investigative reporting and he has never been shy about airing his political views so we figured that he had alienated just enough voters to ensure that he would be kept waiting indefinitely.

We miscalculated.

Thomas Hauser

Thomas Hauser was born in New York City and grew up in Larchmont, an upper-middle-class village roughly 25 miles north of the city in Westchester County. His father was an attorney with a small general practice in the city and Hauser followed him into the practice of law, clerking for a federal judge and then working as a litigator for a Wall Street law firm after graduating from Columbia Law School.

When Hauser got bored with the life of a Wall Street lawyer, he thought he would give writing a try and then hit the jackpot with his very first book. “The Execution of Charles Horman” was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, Bancroft Prize, and the National Book Award.

Horman was a left-leaning journalist who was murdered while investigating the possible American masterminding of a military coup in Chile. The book spawned the movie “Missing” which earned Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (Jack Lemmon), Best Actress (Sissy Spacek) and an Adapted Screenplay Oscar for director Costa-Gavras.

The movie put a brighter spotlight on Hauser’s book which was re-titled “Missing” and sent him off on the lecture circuit. Here’s Hauser in 1982 as depicted in a Los Angeles Times story following his talk at UC Irvine.

hauser wong

Hauser went on to write so many books that the exact number is uncertain (but somewhere north of 50). That includes works of fiction, works of general non-fiction and, of course, non-fiction books about boxing of which, at last count, there are eighteen. The opus is “Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times.” Harking in its design to the works of the great Chicago oral historian Studs Terkel, the book, released in 1991, won the William Hill Award for best sports book, a prestigious award in Great Britain.

Completing the book was an arduous task. Hauser interviewed approximately 200 people. He and Ali spent countless days at their respective homes and after the book was published the two went off on a book signing tour that spanned several continents.

Ali TH w book

Hauser had interviewed Ali long before they collaborated on the biography. It came when he was a 19-year-old undergraduate at Columbia hosting a weekly sports talk radio show on the student-run radio station. Ali was in town to fight Zora Folley at the old Madison Square Garden – Ali’s final fight before his exile – and Hauser wangled his way into Ali’s dressing room after Ali completed a public workout and taped an interview. It wouldn’t be the last time that he wangled his way into a fighter’s dressing room.

Four years later Hauser was at the newly reconstituted Madison Square Garden for the Fight of the Century, the first meeting between Ali and Joe Frazier. It was an epic confrontation, an event that Pete Hamill, writing for Harper’s Bazaar, called the most spectacular event in sports history. Hauser’s ticket bought him a seat in the last row of the mezzanine, as far away from the ring as one could be.

“Muhammad Ali” was actually Hauser’s second boxing book. “The Black Lights: Inside the World of Professional Boxing,” published in 1986, looks at all the machinations that led up to the Nov. 3, 1984 match between 140-pound title-holder Billy Costello and Saoul Mamby. Hauser’s portrait of Don King jumps off the page.

Hauser’s 2001 book, “A Beautiful Sickness: Reflections on the Sweet Science” is noteworthy because it was published by the University of Arkansas Press which has been publishing a Hauser anthology every year since. The books are compilations of Hauser’s favorite columns from the previous year.

The books invariably include at least one dressing room story as Hauser takes the reader into the dressing room of a fighter before a fight, giving us a peek at what happens during those pregnant moments before a fighter is summoned to the ring. In the fraternity of boxing journalists, Hauser is the consummate fly-on-the-wall.

Another hat he wears is that of a reformer. Boxing has become a niche sport, he laments, and it brought it upon itself, alienating the fans with too many champions and too many mismatches rather than the best fighting the best. “Having three heavyweight champions,” he says, “is like having three Kings of England.”

One of Hauser’s most admired people in boxing is Dr. Margaret Goodman, the Las Vegas neurologist who is the co-founder and the face of VADA, the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency. “The most pressing issue facing boxing today,” says Hauser, “is the rampant use of performance enhancing drugs.” Hitting a baseball harder and further is one thing. Hitting a man in the head harder warrants greater reproach.

The new inductees will be formally enshrined in the Hall on Sunday, June 14, the climax of Hall of Fame weekend, a four-day event.

From our perspective here at The Sweet Science, it will be cool to see Thomas Hauser and Bernard Fernandez on the dais together in Canastota. I wonder if we could induce them to wear a “The Sweet Science.com” tee shirt?

Probably not.

Photo (c): Wojtek Urbanek

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The Official TSS Ruiz-Joshua II Prediction Page

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The Official TSS Ruiz-Joshua II Prediction Page

Whenever a big fight comes down the pike, we like to survey members of our editorial staff to get their opinions. However, not all big fights qualify – only those in which the odds suggest that the underdog has a reasonable chance of winning. After all, what’s the point in running a survey if all the responses figure to be pretty much alike?

We did not perform this exercise for Joshua-Ruiz I because the odds were skewed too heavily in favor of Anthony Joshua. It was inevitable that Joshua would have his hand raised in triumph, or so it seemed to the vast majority of those who cover the sport.

You know the rest of the story.

STAFF PREDICTIONS

I see Joshua-Ruiz II resembling Kovalev-Alvarez. Joshua is going to fight a very technical fight behind the left jab and look to keep Ruiz at the end of that jab for much of the contest. And Ruiz will be loading up looking to land that fight altering punch like he did in the first fight. But this time, it won’t come. Joshua puts on a boxing clinic and wins a wide twelve round unanimous decision. – MATT ANDRZEJEWSKI

I’m picking Andy Ruiz for the stoppage in the late rounds. If Anthony Joshua wins it will be by knockout early but I’m betting Ruiz can handle his power. After that its Ruiz going to the body and wearing down the bigger fighter. Ninth round stoppage win for Ruiz. – DAVID AVILA

There is a saying in boxing that some fighters “look like Tarzan, fight like Jane.” It means pretty much the same thing as you can’t judge a book by its cover. It’s true, too. If beautiful, sculpted physiques are the determining factor of ring greatness, Mike “Hercules” Weaver — to be fair, a onetime alphabet champion for a hiccup or two — might have been the best heavyweight ever. Which brings us to Ruiz-Joshua II. If Andy Ruiz Jr. wolfs down all his Thanksgiving leftovers, he might show up looking even more like a Mexican Butterbean. Anthony Joshua looks like Tarzan, but in his first go at Ruiz he pretty much fought like Jane. I am sorely tempted to forget appearances and pick Ruiz, but I still have a nagging suspicion that the Joshua who got off the deck to beat Wladimir Klitschko is still present in that mass of muscles. I cast a reluctant vote for AJ, maybe on points. – BERNARD FERNANDEZ

New International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee THOMAS HAUSER agrees with his 2020 Canastota “stablemate” Fernandez. “Joshua by decision,” he writes. “But like most people I have my doubts.”

World Heavyweight King Andy Ruiz Jr. is reigning in Saudi Arabia? He must feel like Rocky Balboa getting ready for WW3 with the muscle-bound Ivan Drago on Christmas Day in Russia! Strange lands, strange laws, an imposing mountain to climb. After what I saw Ruiz do to Anthony Joshua in NYC on 6/1/19, I have to pick him to pick up where he left off. Fighting hard. Doing whatever it takes to win. Hurting AJ. Knocking him out in 11. – JEFFREY FREEMAN

The storyline of Anthony Joshua’s signature triumph over Wladimir Klitschko was how well Joshua handled adversity. That made his showing against Andy Ruiz all the more head-scratching. Was he overconfident? After all, Ruiz had a short training camp, having been roped in off the street, in a sense, after Joshua’s original opponent Big Baby Miller was ruled out. Perhaps Ruiz has the blueprint for beating Joshua; perhaps his style is just all wrong for Joshua — I’m really not sure — but my inclination is that the Brit will do a better job of exploiting his 8-inch reach advantage in the rematch. It wouldn’t surprise me if this fight follows the same tack as Ruiz’s fight with Joseph Parker, a distance fight with a lot of close rounds that ultimately went against the chubby Mexican-American. – ARNE LANG

What happened in the first fight? It’s been almost half a year since Ruiz shockingly defeated Joshua in one of the biggest upsets in heavyweight history and I’m still not really sure. For the longest time, I believed it was simply a tactical error made by Joshua in round three that spelled his doom. Once he suffered that first knockdown, he never recovered. But as fight week looms, part of me wonders if Ruiz just has a style that Joshua doesn’t know how to attack. Still, the greater part of me still thinks Joshua has what it takes to beat Ruiz. He’ll fight the second bout much differently this time and plod his way to a 12-round decision. The cards will be wider than most would like, but Joshua wins in most people eyes via UD in a competitive fight that reveals Ruiz’s limitations. – KELSEY McCARSON

When is a prediction not a prediction? When it defaults to some future event that subscribes the outcome. In this case it is the Ruiz-Joshua weigh in, generally speaking the final hiding place for cowards asked by their editors to turn in that prediction. But hear me out. Or rather hear out Iron Mike Tyson, here discussing Ruiz’s perceived weight loss: “I just don’t understand it.  But everybody has their own thing their vanity gets the best of them. “I’m a believer in ‘if it’s not broke don’t fix it.’ The only thing Ruiz has to do is do what he did last fight.” Tyson is unequivocally correct. Ruiz trusted himself to punch with the puncher last time around and he had the chin and the handspeed to get it done. Worst case scenario sees him a faster fighter with a better chin in a shootout; but he’s added a proviso here with his weight-loss. Ruiz’s weight makes it difficult for Joshua to bully him with his prodigious strength and is a faculty of his punch resistance. It has also been an indelible part of his ring character during his decade in the ring. Stripped of a sizeable portion, Ruiz may enhance both his speed and his gas-tank, but these are aspects in which he already out-strips Joshua; the benefits, therefore, do not outstrip the detriment. That said there is likely a sweet spot around 245 where Ruiz reaps the benefits of size without the loss of familiarity nor bulk and at this poundage or above, I’ll pick the Mexican to once again out-punch his svelter foe. Joshua, for his part, appears to have slimmed down too, perhaps looking to enhance his own speed and stamina. Both will be necessary if he is, as many British fight fans insist, intent on boxing and moving despite all evidence to the contrary of his being able to sustain this over a twelve-round fight. But watch those scales. I can’t remember a time in heavyweight competition where they meant as much.” – MATT McGRAIN

So preposterous was the outcome in the first fight that trying to come up with a prediction for the rematch seems like a comically futile endeavor. Here goes, anyway: If Ruiz is able to wade through another Joshua left hand-right uppercut, he may have his hands raised again. Ruiz is the better fighter, and Joshua, despite his overarching physical advantages, has no capable answer for the pudgy Mexican on the inside. If Joshua can stay disciplined for 12 rounds, working behind his jab, one could see him winning a snoozer of a decision; but one suspects his stamina will become an issue. Still, for all of the question marks surrounding Joshua’s mental state, his chin, etc., his punching power is genuine, so it’s entirely possible that he decks Ruiz inside five rounds. Of course, anything seems possible, even in the deserts of Saudi Arabia. Ruiz TKO8 – SEAN NAM

There are a lot of “ifs” in this one. The relatively small amount of weight that Ruiz lost (5-8 pounds) will make him lighter on his feet and even more dangerous, but he needs to couple that with a competitive fire and attitude. The purchase of a Rolls Royce and mansion is not a good sign. Meanwhile, Anthony Joshua is doing exercises that reportedly are elongating his musculature. If so, that’s a smart move. Muscularity and attendant vascularity, with exceptions like Holyfield, are not necessarily compatible with flexibility. If AJ can come in loose (rather than overly tight like the last time) and without the element of surprise, I see him fighting tall (using a superior jab coupled with sharp crosses) and keeping Ruiz at bay while winning a decision or even perpetrating a mid-to-late round stoppage. Remember, we are talking about a guy who beat Wlad Klitschko, Dillian Whyte, Joseph Parker, Alexander Povetkin, and many other solid opponents. – TED SARES

Who wins? The “sportswashing” government of Saudi Arabia as DAZN trumps global morality with viewers like me. Willfully or not, we all bow at the altar of Plutus. Follow the money and that probably means that barring another delightful surprise, Matchroom meal ticket Joshua takes back the belts in a cautious display while Ruiz’s payday keeps him from any loser status. – PHIL WOOLEVER

OBSERVATION: An interesting diversity of opinion. Reading through the lines, the most common thread was that this is a tricky fight to handicap and that no outcome would be all that surprising.

The graphic is by Colorado comic book cover artist ROB AYALA whose work is attracting a lot of buzz. Ayala’s specialty is combat sports. Check out more of his work at his web site fight posium.

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