Suffice to say, defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr. in June came as a shock to Anthony Joshua. He was knocked down four times by the Mexican in a grueling encounter at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The champion who had gone from strength to strength in establishing an unbeaten 22-match run in professional boxing was suddenly rendered impotent by Ruiz’s aggressive approach.

With the rematch on December 7th fast approaching, it’s a critical fight for AJ. He is favourite in the latest Joshua v Ruiz odds and will be hoping that a victory can re-establish himself among heavyweight boxing’s greatest exponents. Let’s take a look at some of the positive effects a win could have on the boxer’s future career.

Restoring pride

June’s defeat at the hands of Ruiz could be passed off as little more than a blip if AJ was to enjoy a comfortable victory in the rematch. A win would see Joshua reclaim his WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight titles, and would provide the platform from which the Watford fighter can move forward in his career.

Joshua will have been fired up seeing Ruiz flaunt the heavyweight belts he feels should still be his. Regaining his titles immediately would demonstrate Joshua’s will to win and an ability to dig deep when the going gets tough. If he can demonstrate the tactical knowledge required to overcome an opponent who caused him so many problems months earlier, it will go a long way towards restoring his reputation.

Future bouts

A win would open up the possibility of some mouth-watering match-ups in the near future. Joshua is yet to face either Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder in his career and if he regains his belts then a clash with at least one of the two will be on the cards. Fury and Wilder are due a rematch after their epic tussle in December last year and if Joshua beats Ruiz then all eyes will be on a potential title unification showdown.

Both Fury and Wilder made disparaging remarks about Joshua in the wake of his defeat. Fury said that Joshua was ‘finished’ and that it seemed as though ‘he didn’t want to be there’. Meanwhile, Wilder remarked that ‘broken man’ Joshua was ‘not a true champion’. Verbal barbs are part and parcel of boxing, but these are the kind of comments that Joshua can use as motivation ahead of the Ruiz clash, and in any future bouts with Fury or Wilder.

Creating a legacy

Joshua also has a legacy to build and maintain in the sport. He has cited Mike Tyson as a major inspiration, and one of Tyson’s great traits was how he bounced back from surprising defeats. Few boxers boast a 100% winning record – instead, it’s how they recover from setbacks that define their legacies. That is Joshua’s challenge as he faces Ruiz again, to draw strength from deep within and restore his credentials.

The aim for any sportsperson is to be remembered by future generations, to break records and make history. A convincing win over Ruiz would go a long way towards re-building Joshua’s claims to greatness and put him back on track to go down as one of the best British boxers of all time.

Losing is certainly not a familiar feeling for Joshua, and defeat to Ruiz will have hit him hard. But a fighter does not amass a 22-match winning run without possessing a certain strength of character. Joshua will need to draw from those reserves of confidence and inner belief. If he can do so then it won’t be long before we see AJ in fine form once again.

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