The Monday LunchBox

Josh Taylor – photo courtesy of fightnewsasia.com

The big news of last week was the promotional switch of unified super-lightweight world champion Josh Taylor from the Barry McGuigan run Cyclone Promotions to Bob Arum’s Top Rank organisation.

The Prestonpans stylist has chosen to relocate his dealings stateside to secure the big fights in the 10st/10st 7lb divisions. This could mean fighting a number of Top Rank based fighters, and potentially securing a ‘superfight’ with living legend Manny ‘Pacman’ Pacquiao.

2019 was a breakout year for the Scot (16-0, 12 KO’s) securing the IBF world title in May against Ivan Baranchyk and following up in October with a massively impressive victory to rip the WBA crown from Regis Prograis, and with it the Muhammad Ali Trophy and the World Boxing Super Series title.

The ‘Tartan Tornado’ is one of only four fighters in the world across all divisions to hold the Ali Trophy. This in itself makes him one of the most prestigious and marketable fighters out there.

Cyclone Promotions can rightly feel aggrieved by this switch having guided Taylor from finishing a stellar amateur career (2012 Olympian and 2014 Commonwealth Games champion), through the professional ranks, to a multiple world champion. Also; the apparent nature of the decision with the UK based promotional company allegedly finding out second hand. They are thought likely to challenge the decision, as they’re currently doing with Carl Frampton’s switch at a similar stage of his career some years ago.

However, having just turned 29 the Scot is approaching his prime years and will have to move fast to secure a Pacquaio fight as the Filipino enters the twilight of his Hall of Fame career. Other potential mega-fights are a unification at 140lbs (10st) against WBC champ Jose Ramirez, or up at 147lbs against top three ‘pound-for-pound’ fighter Terence Crawford. All massively lucrative fights.

Despite the current upheaval promoter Bob Arum has high hopes for the Scot, stating “Josh Taylor is one of the world’s best fighters, and he is a fight fan’s fighter; a tough guy willing to fight anyone we put in front of him”. That in essence is the Scot’s DNA and his selling point. He illustrated this with the manner of his approach and victories against Baranchyk and Prograis and is sure to be a big hit in the US.

It’s hard to see this not being a good decision on Taylor’s part, and if successful, could turn him into the ‘pound for pound’ fighter in the world and join Ken Buchanan as the greatest Scottish fighter of all time. A debate we hope to look forward to in the future.

This regular weekly feature is to also raise awareness of the registered boxing charity Ringside Rest and Care.

The Monday LunchBox

Errol Spence Jnr and Terence Crawford montage by Talksport.

Welcome to the new ‘Roaring Twenties’ and the first LunchBox of the new decade. I hope all our readers had a fantastic festive holiday period and those of other religious beliefs and cultures a restful end to the year.

Now, the boxing season resumes in earnest as we enter the first year of the decade. Today we take a look at what The Undisputed considers the top five fights we believe most boxing fans want to see in 2020. A tough call, but here goes:-

1. Anthony Joshua v the winner of Wilder-Fury II We had to start at the top of the food chain. Whilst all eyes will be on the Feb 22nd rematch between Deontay Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KO’s) and Tyson Fury (29-0-1, 20 KO’s) for the WBC and ‘lineal’ title, we still lament for an undisputed heavyweight champion. That can only happen if a) Joshua (23-1, 21 KO’s) meets his mandatory obligations (Kubrat Pulev IBF and/or Oleksandr Usyk WBO) and therefore avoids getting stripped of any of the four straps he currently holds and, b) the winner of Wilder-Fury II avoids a trilogy fight (which they are both understood to be contractually obligated to) and meets Joshua before year end.

If it does miraculously materialise in 2020 (assuming Joshua wins his mandatory/ies) we’re in for a barnstormer either way – the shootout with the ‘Bronze Bomber’ Wilder or a potential boxing masterclass with ‘Gypsy King’ Fury.

We can only pray for this outcome but it’s realistically unlikely to happen until mid/late 2021.

2. Errol Spence Jnr v Terence Crawford even more difficult contractually to make than the above, largely due to different and hostile promotional ties, this would be a welterweight unification fight between two undefeated stars in their prime. Think Leonard-Hearns I, Curry-McCrory, Trinidad-De La Hoya. This has all the makings of a 147lb fight to savour and one for the ages.

Both Americans are supreme boxing technicians with respectable power and both rated in The Ring magazine pound-for-pound top six. That says it all.

The key to the outcome could be Spence’s (26-0, 21 KO’s) enforced layoff due to a major car accident in which he was lucky to escape with his life. This followed a career defining split decision win against Shawn Porter to unify the IBF and WBC titles.

Could this accident and layoff play on his mind and therefore lead to a difficult pre-fight camp and performance on the night ?

Crawford (36-0, 27 KO’s) on the other hand has just come off a win versus tough Egidijus Kavaliauskas to retain his WBO title but it was a drawn out performance which may even things up on the pre-fight betting. One to savour though should it happen.

3. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez v Gennadiy Golovkin III – The final fight in the trilogy that will bring to an end the debates on who is the better middle/super-middleweight, and in doing so, the better fighter.

The Undisputed firmly believes that the Kazakh Golovkin (40-1-1, 35 KO’s) won the first fight (despite being deemed a draw) and the second fight was indeed a draw (the decision being given to the Mexican). Opinions are still split throughout the boxing business, with Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KO’s) subsequently ranked Ring magazine pound-for-pound king, and only a third fight will finally end the argument.

This could happen at 160lbs (middleweight), catchweight, or anything up to 168lbs (super-middleweight). The Mexican superstar will call the shots on if, and when, this fight happens.

4. Vasily Lomachenko v Gervonta Davis – the recently demoted Ring magazine pound-for-pound king with outstanding amateur and professional pedigree versus the young, brash and pugilistically vicious upstart.

Can the Ukrainian Lomachenko (14-1-0, 10 KO’s) add to his legend by pushing back the challenge from the Floyd Mayweather promoted kid from the ‘hood ? An intriguing proposition as Lomachenko’s advancing years mean that big fights have to be made in the next 18 months to define his greatness.

The American, Davis (23-0, 22 KO’s) has just moved up and won the WBA world title at lightweight – Lomachenko’s current predatory habitat.

5. Dmitri Bivol v Artur Beterbiev – a light-heavyweight unification between two Russians – Bivol (17-0, 11 KO’s) the WBA Champ and Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KO’s) the IBF & WBC Champ. Both undefeated, both supreme amateurs and both with concussive power. Arguably both in their prime. A mouthwatering cocktail and proposition.

Honourable mentions go to potential super-matchups – Josh Taylor v Jose Ramirez, Callum Smith v Canelo Alvarez, Manny Pacquiao v Vasily Lomachenko, and Naoya Inoue v Anyone . If we get only three or four of these fights, this year will be one to remember. Enjoy !

This regular weekly feature is to also raise awareness of the registered boxing charity Ringside Rest and Care.

The Monday LunchBox

Daniel ‘Dynamite’ Dubois shows off his straps
Photo by Tony Harris

Five things we learned from the weekend

1. Daniel Dubois is the ‘real deal’ – The young British and Commonwealth Heavyweight champion showed again his immense promise with a devastating second round KO of Japanese heavyweight Kyotaro Fujimoto. This takes his record to 14-0 with 13 early wins. In doing so he captured the WBC Silver title to add to his WBO International title. He could arguably be the single-most one punch KO artist in the division outside of Deontay Wilder. Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren will draw on all his experience to carefully manoeuvre the Londoner over the next year into a major title contending position. Watch this space.

2. Liam Williams is back on track – After moving up from light-middleweight to the full 160lb (11st 6lb) middleweight division the Welshman is showing steady progress. He systematically broke down the tall American slickster Alantez Fox on Saturday to earn a crack at Demetrius Andrade’s WBO championship. Again, look for Frank Warren to move his charge into securing his shot. Williams come forward style is box office and this should enable him to nail a title fight early in the new decade.

3. Daniel Jacobs needs a new challenge Following unsuccessful steps into the elite stratosphere of the middleweight division, losing narrowly to Gennadiy Golovkin and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, the Brooklynite needs to quickly secure another stellar name to add to his resume and seal a marquee victory. A Golovkin rematch will be his prime target, but securing that may be beyond him due to the closeness of the first fight and the Kazak’s advancing years. Jacobs win over Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr at the weekend, although adding another ‘name’ to his record, is not the challenge that he is seeking, that to regain a version of the world title either in the 160 or 168lb division.

4. Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr is finished at the elite level – Coming in significantly overweight against Jacobs and the nature of his defeat, will likely mean that no promoter will take a chance on the Mexican again. He may carry the name of his Hall of Fame father but indiscipline has plagued his career. The best part of his career is now behind him and he should consider hanging up his gloves.

5. Fury-Joshua entente-cordial – Anthony Joshua’s offer of helping Tyson Fury in his preparation for the Wilder rematch is an interesting one. There are past examples of elite heavyweights using each other to prepare for major fights – Ali and Holmes springs to mind in the early to mid 1970’s – but two ‘champions’, one the linear and other holding three of four major sanctioning belts is a new one, especially when they are destined to meet further down the line. Joshua needs to be commended for offering to help his fellow Brit and Fury equally so for taking up the offer. Maybe he called AJ’s bluff, but it will be interesting to see how this one develops.

Finally, may I wish all readers of The Undisputed a very happy festive season and great start to the new decade. Also, to those of other cultures and religious beliefs I wish an equally enjoyable time.

2020 promises to be an eventful boxing year. Enjoy all and see you again. Your editor Robert Harding.

‘Dynamite’ blasts into heavyweight contention

Photo by Tony Harris

London heavyweight Daniel ‘Dynamite’ Dubois exploded his way into world title contention with a devastating second round knockout of Kyotara Fujimoto in the Copper Box Arena, London on Saturday night.

The 22 year old Londoner recorded his fifth straight win of the year raising his record to 14-0 with 13 early stoppages.

It was the nature of Dubois win that further enhanced his reputation and promise. Showing extreme composure and control in the opening round, Dubois took the early exchanges behind a stiff jab and vicious hooks. His Japanese challenger for the second tier WBO International Heavyweight title was cautious of Dubois’ power from the ‘get go’.

Early in the second round Dubois dropped the Japanese with a short stabbing jab, a sign of things to come. After rising with time to spare Fujimoto navigated cautiously another minute of the round as Dubois pushed up the pace.

On two minutes, Dubois moved his foe to the ropes and exploded a right hand to the side of Fujimoto’s head and the Japanese dropped like a stone. Referee Victor Loughlin waved the fight off instantly. The official stoppage coming at 2:10 of the round.

By any standards this was a mighty impressive knockout, particularly by one so young, still finding his way in the sport. Dubois, a contender for The Ring magazine 2019 ‘Young prospect of the year’ also captured the WBC Silver title and with it a top 15 ranking. Fujimoto drops to 21-2, 13 KO’s.

Other heavyweights have been put on standby as Dubois moves into the next decade firmly in a position to challenge the established trio of Joshua, Fury and Wilder. Next up is likely to be fellow Londoner Joe Joyce (10-0, 9 KO’s) watching at ringside along with future Hall of Famer ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley who couldn’t have failed to be impressed by the young ‘DDD’ – Dynamite Dubois.

The fight night was promoted by Queensberry Promotions and shown live on BT Sport.

Dubois returns

Poster courtesy of Queensberry Promotions.

Unbeaten British heavyweight sensation Daniel Dubois (13-0) steps into the ring tonight in his hometown of London for the last major fight of the year against Japan’s Kyotaro Fujimoto (21-1).

The Queensberry Promotion at the Copper Box Arena on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford gives the young Londoner an opportunity to register another explosive victory to further increase his standing in the complex and increasingly intriguing heavyweight landscape.

With major fights developing over the next six months (Wilder-Fury II, Joshua v Usyk or Pulev) plus the returning Dillian Whyte, a victory for Dubois will put him right in the picture. Promoter Frank Warren is moving Dubois at exactly the right pace, quietly building his record against solid opposition, certainly for a 22 year old, and capturing titles along the way. Dubois is currently British and Commonwealth champion, also holding secondary world sanctioning belts.

In the 33 year old Fujimoto, the Londoner faces a fighter with an inflated record against limited opposition. However, in the heavyweight division one solid shot can change the whole perspective of a fight and the Japanese is not to be underestimated. Despite this, look for Dubois to register a further knockout victory around the third round.

On a solid bill, world middleweight contender Liam Williams returns against Alantez Fox, from the USA and super featherweight Archie Sharp defends his WBO European title versus unbeaten Artjoms Ramlavs.

The evening is billed ‘The Fight before Christmas’ and is worthy of a decent walk up to see out the decade.

The Monday LunchBox

Photo courtesy of Bad Left Hook

Crawford marks time

WBO welterweight champion Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford defended his 147lb title in Madison Square Garden, New York City on Saturday with a ninth round stoppage of Lithuanian Egidijus Kavaliauskas.

Omaha Nebraskan Crawford (36-0, 27 KO’s) recovered from an apparent knockdown in round three, subsequently ruled a slip, to dominate the fight throughout. The strong Lithuanian (21-1-1, 17 KO’s) was dropped in the seventh and twice in the ninth before succumbing to the pound-for-pound elect early in the round.

Crawford 32, now moves onto further challenges in the 10st 7lb division which have so far denied him. He longs for a career defining fight against fellow Americans WBC & IBF champion Errol Spence, Keith Thurman or Shawn Porter. Either needs to happen in the next 12 months to avoid the Nebraskan losing his prime year.

Conlon avenges 2016 Olympics defeat

On the Madison Square Garden undercard Belfast featherweight Michael Conlon avenged his defeat in the Rio Olympics to Russian Vladimir Nikitin by registering a unanimous points victory (98-92, 99-91, 100-90).

The fight in the Games was famously remembered for Conlon’s double fingered salute to the judges after losing a controversial decision. It has taken Conlon (13-0, 7 KO’s) two years as a pro to get the Russian (3-1) back in the ring and his victory on Saturday brings closure to the rivalry.

The Top Rank Bob Arum promoted Irishman is potentially chalked in to challenge for a version of the world title in Belfast sometime in 2020.

On the same show Top Rank star Teofimo Lopez (15-0, 12 KO’s) brutally stopped Ghanaian champion Richard Commey (29-3, 26 KO’s) in the second round to win the IBF lightweight (135lb) title. WBA/WBC & WBO champion Vasyli Lomachenko was at ringside and a fight between the two Top Rank fighters is a natural in 2020, possibly as early as April.

Joshua to face mandatory defences

New WBA/IBF & WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua will face either Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev (28-1, 14 KO’s) or Ukrainian star Olexsandr Usyk (17-0, 13 KO’s) in his next defence. Both are mandatory contenders for the title, Pulev the IBF and Usyk WBO, and both sanctioning organisations have mandated that he defend against their champion within 120 days.

This will require both organisations coming to an agreement as to which will take precedence, as both commitments cannot be defended to the same timeframe. Early indications are the fight will be in the UK, with Tottenham Hotspur football stadium being the early front runner.

Leon Spinks hospitalised

Photo courtesy of hannibalboxing.com

Former undisputed heavyweight champion Leon Spinks is currently in a serious condition in a Las Vegas hospital. A family statement said “Leon is currently in intensive care….to suppress prostate cancer which he was diagnosed with earlier in the year…a miraculous fighter his entire life, we are optimistic and hopeful that he will move out of ICU soon”. Latest updates are that he is showing “small signs” of improvement.

The 66 year old Spinks (brother of Michael) won Olympic gold in 1976 and shocked the world when defeating Muhammad Ali in only his 8th fight to win the unified championship in February 1978.

The Undisputed’s thoughts and prayers are with you champ to make a speedy and full recovery.

This regular weekly feature is to also raise awareness of the registered boxing charity Ringside Rest and Care.

The Monday LunchBox

The regular weekly feature to also raise awareness of the registered boxing charity Ringside Rest and Care.

The Saudi Experience – Five things we learned

  1. Anthony Joshua is back not the destructive AJ of his early career as he moved up in class, although the first Ruiz fight was an aborration, but the return of the thinking boxer. Faced with a foe who’d devastatingly ripped the title from him six months earlier, he went back to school, worked out a gameplan and stuck to it. The term ‘masterclass’ has been used in the last 36 hours. This wasn’t quite that, but it sure was impressive and he categorically got the job done.
  2. Andy Ruiz Jr disrespected himself and the heavyweight title by punishing the scales at over 20 stone, some 15lbs heavier than six months previous, he brought back the James ‘Buster’ Douglas meek surrender of a new champion. One who literally ate himself out of retaining it. There are worse cases in the last century but in today’s high tech world with dieticians, physios and advisors at a drop of a hat, this was largely inexcusable. His achievement of this and post fight excuses “making no excuses” was disappointing.
  3. The Saudi’s want more the young Prince Abdul Azziz of the Saudi Royal family is an iconic figure amongst the young of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They say (as the Chair of KSA’s General Sports Authority) he sees sport as a way of engaging with the rest of the world and is also a talented sportsman himself. Alongside the Deriyah boxing arena is an international tennis tournament arena and, added to recent motor racing events, they want more. After Saturday, they certainly want more of Anthony Joshua. The arena rang out with his name, prompted by Brits, but followed loudly by the locals.
  4. The Heavyweight division is the deepest for some time – Yes, AJ does hold four world sanctioning belts, but there are also two guys still out there legitimately calling themselves ‘World Champion’. In the triumpheret of Joshua, Wilder and Fury you have fighters who arguably on any given night could beat each other. Just below that we have the soon to ‘hopefully’ be renewed WBC mandatory contender Dillian Whyte. Throw in Oleksander Usyk, Daniel Dubois, Derek Chisora and those showcased on Saturday (Hrgovic, Majidov and Hunter). Plus, a returning Ruiz Jr and perennial contenders Ortiz, Pulev and Povetkin. It all adds up to some great fights in 2020.
  5. Dillian Whyte deserves respect – carrying the threat for half the year of his chosen profession being taken away from him ‘The Bodysnatcher’ ends it with two testing victories. No one wanted to fight undefeated Oscar Rivas whom he outpointed in the summer and, on Saturday, he defeated teak tough Mariusz Wach on three weeks notice. Add in the unsubstantiated and premature condemnation from some sections of the media and this man deserves a world title shot, and now.

Diriyah Diary

Sunday 8th December

A Saudi experience

Joshua back on top

In the early hours of Sunday morning (local time) amidst the hospitality, splendour and pageantry of Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, the British heavyweight Anthony Joshua (23-1, 21 KO’s) regained the WBA, IBF and WBO world titles he lost a little over six months ago in a stunning upset in New York City.

In defeating Andy Ruiz Jr (33-2, 22 KO’s) by scores of 118-110, 118-110, 119-109 he joins an elite group of men who have regained the heavyweight title. He enters the high territory of Patterson, Ali, Tyson, Holyfield and Lennox Lewis.

In many ways this was a surreal evening. The titles being taken to the Middle East for the first time, and being welcomed by spectators clad in ‘pack a macs’ watching in front of Saudi royalty, in moments of silence in the desert after midnight. It was however a tense bout with so much on the line for both combatants.

It will go down in boxing history as the ‘Clash on the Dunes’ to rival those exotic titles of bygone heavyweight years. However, it was not so much a clash as a ‘dash’. The challenger chose to revert back to his amateur skill set and adopt what many saw beforehand as his sole route to victory. Work off the jab, follow up with power punches and move. If you get in close and get tagged, then hold on for dear life.

It would be poor to criticise Joshua though. In essence this was a boxing masterclass by him, perfecting the art of hitting and not getting hit. The wide scores reflected this dominance but were exaggerated by the Mexican champion’s lack of conditioning and inability to sustain any meaningful attack.

Joshua controlled the fight at distance and Ruiz conditioning and poor footwork didn’t really allow him to get in the fight. Whilst some would say he made the fight, working from the centre of the ring throughout, he was just plain ineffective.

The Brit to his immense credit nailed Ruiz on many occasions in the fight, backing up his tactic with big powershots.

It was a fight of no knockdowns, missing the drama of the first encounter, and only two early cuts to each fighter. None becoming a factor in the bout.

Throughout the contest there were cheers of AJ and “Oh Anthony Joshua”, clearly the local favourite, and met with a lesser reply of “Mexico, Mexico”. This was pumped up by Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez being in attendance. But Andy Ruiz on this night just couldn’t rise to the challenge.

In the post fight interviews Ruiz admitted “I didn’t prepare how I should have” an indictment on his ability to stay motivated after hitting the jackpot in June. Joshua was ecstatic in victory, clasping hold off the belts and saying “This was about boxing. I’m used to knocking guys out…but I said I was gonna correct myself and come again”.

This was the night Joshua made history and captured the hearts of the Middle East. Another frontier almost conquered. Despite references to a third encounter to end the arguement, the big money and challenges of Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury await the British world champion.

Diriyah Diary

Photo courtesy of Matchroom Boxing

Saturday 7th December – Fight Day

Right. Let’s get serious.

This is what the American’s call a ‘pick ems’ fight. Pundits and the so called experts are split down the middle. In a poll of such in The Ring magazine they came out 12-10 to challenger Anthony Joshua. Almost everyone hedging their bets by offering ways each could win. No one emphatically, except maybe Duke McKenzie former three weight world champion, “You cannot put muscles on your temple and the back of your head”, predicting a Ruiz reaffirmation of fight one.

Also, in other interviews Hall of famer promoter Bob Arum, predicting a Ruiz victory, and former heavyweight champions like Hasim Rahman predicting likewise. Most Brits however moving gradually towards a Joshua redemption.

So what do we know ?

  • Andy ‘The Destroyer’ Ruiz ripped the title from Joshua just over six months ago, dropping him four times in the process
  • This was Joshua’s first pro defeat and psychologically that is damaging, some even questioning that the Brit quit
  • Boxing history, especially in the heavyweight division is littered with results of rematches underlining the first fight and going the same way. Holyfield-Tyson being the most recent example
  • However, rematches have turned completely the other way. Joe Louis-Schmeling, Ali-Spinks, Lewis-Rahman
  • A good big un beats a good little un. The Mexican Ruiz is three stone bigger and 15lbs heavier than the first fight. Joshua is 10lbs lighter than in his defeat
  • Joshua is the superior athlete with the best boxing pedigree, capturing Olympic gold in London 2012. He should be able to box his way to victory
  • Ruiz is Mexican. He knows how to fight. Enough said
  • Both fighters will be extremely motivated. Joshua for redemption and respect. Ruiz to prove his win was no fluke and to underline his Mexican heritage
  • Ruiz has the confidence of knowing he can drop Joshua anytime, especially when the fight is in close, and stop him
  • Joshua knows he has the skills to box to victory, if he fights the right fight
  • Ruiz weight and lack of conditioning is not ideal for an elite athlete entering the fire zone of a square ring
  • Styles make fights. Ruiz is short and stocky with fast hands. Stylistically this is Krptonite for the upright and tall Brit. AJ has the height and reach
  • Joshua will win the fight if he keeps at distance and has the stamina to maintain his strategy
  • Ruiz will win any fight up close and in devastating fashion

All in all, this takes us no closer to clearly predicting the outcome, not with any confidence. The Undisputed for fear of being accused of sitting on the fence, says we can see Ruiz winning early, or Joshua winning late, but a gut feeling and boxing history points to a Ruiz victory probably around the 7th round again.

As British trainer Adam Booth pointed out, if attempting to exchange, Joshua “lingers” in the pocket then Ruiz fast hands and power will define the outcome.

But boy, how I would love to be proved wrong.

Diriyah Diary

Cover posters courtesy of The Ring magazine.

Friday 6th December

The Mexican Champion Andy Ruiz Jr makes it to the podium

It was not your average weigh-in.

At 4:30pm local time in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia the Heavyweight Champion of the World, or at least the WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO versions of it, came to the podium sporting his Mariachi sombrero. Oozing supreme confidence with his entourage and waving the Mexican tricolour, little did we know how much pain those scales would take.

As the sun beat down in front of a multicultural audience on this Matchroom Boxing promotion those scales would tip 283.7 lbs (20st 3lbs). Ouch ! A full 15lbs heavier than their June meeting.

Meanwhile former champion and challenger Anthony Joshua came in a lean 237lbs (16st 13lbs) sporting a pair of headphones. This, the lightest he’s been since 2014. Clear evidence that he’s had a good training camp. For the record a 10lb drop since his defeat.

But, is this going to matter ? Ruiz will again be the heavier of the two, but for sure his hands won’t be slower.

So, for the Brit to win this fight he must take the Mexican champion into the deep waters of rounds 8 thru 12. Yes, come to fight….if the opportunity comes in the opening rounds then take it, but; don’t come out with a loose guard, recklessly seeking an early KO. Speed kills (figuratively speaking) especially in a boxing ring. Learn the lessons from the first fight AJ and you give yourself the best chance.

Your editor has picked Ruiz to win for the six months leading into this fight. Telling all who asked, to their disappointment. “He (AJ) will win won’t he ?” Well……this is how it goes.

But; tonight amongst the splendour and hospitality on the lawns outside the Al Faisaliah Hotel, with the canapés and soft drinks for press, and hearing the Brits chanting AJ’s name I might just be starting to think he might well do it !

It may be speed that can win the fight, but if the hunger is gone, then a fighter is not what he was. James ‘Buster’ Douglas knows a story about that.