Joshua vs Ruiz 2 location and perception: AJ wins if it's anywhere near close
As a result, if Joshua vs Ruiz 2 goes the distance and is anywhere near close, look for AJ to get the benefit of the doubt. Not only will he enter the bout as the A-side and a popular former champion, he'll likely get some additional home cooking on the scorecards for fighting in the UK and in front of a highly partisan, pro Joshua crowd.
It's boxing and it happens. Judges are human. Not only can they have pre-conceived thoughts about fighters' statuses and match-ups, they can be swayed a bit by crowd noise despite insisting otherwise.
For instance, Ruiz could land a hard, well-timed right hand and, for the exception of a few ohhs and ahhs, the arena would be dead. Joshua, on the otherhand, could cause the arena to erupt by simply responding with a hard, two punch combination, even if both shots are blocked. In the event Ruiz defended those shots well, crowd noise will have given the appearance AJ won the exchange when, in truth, Ruiz did.
Fight judging, like life itself, sometimes places style over substance and perception above reality.
That stated, it clearly doesn't mean Ruiz will be flat-out robbed. It simply means should the fight go the distance, the onus would be on Andy to separate himself a little more to win.
Hence, if at the fight's conclusion, most at ringside have Ruiz winning 114-113 or 115-113, it's bad news for the Mexican.
And if most in the media had Ruiz winning 115-112 but there are a few reporters who favored AJ 114-113, the sentiment is going to be with the latter.
Because Andy can't expect to be given the benefit of the doubt in close rounds, he shouldn't expect to win a tight decision in Cardiff Wales. In addition to being the B-side, he'll be fighting in hostile territory.
... And it's nothing new in boxing. Location, location...
In fact, Ruiz's sole lose came via a razor-thin verdict to an A-side opponent in that opponent's native territory (MD Joseph Parker, Auckland, New Zealand, Dec 2016)
Some, most notably New Zealand Professional Boxing Association president Lance Revill, described the majority decision by the WBO-appointed independent judges as bullshit, with Revill adding he was embarrassed to be a New Zealander after watching the fight at Auckland's Vector Arena. Rather than score the fight close, Revill had it 118-111 to Ruiz.
Most think it was much closer but the bottomline remained: A close fight, which it was, clearly favored Parker. Of course, status helps too.
Even in the first Joshua vs Ruiz match-up, although Andy seemed to be decisively beating AJ, two judges had him ahead by only a point at the time of the KO while the third had Joshua up by the same margin. (57-56, 57-56 - Ruiz, 57-56 - Joshua).
It's no coincidence the A-side, throughout boxing history, tends to get the benefit of the doubt most of the time, especially when most of the live gate is behind him.
Louis vs Walcott I, Canelo vs Lara, Canelo vs Trout, Foreman vs Stewart, Holmes vs Williams, Garcia vs Herrera, Rios vs Abril, Toney vs Tiberi, De La Hoya vs Sturm, Ali vs Norton III, Duran vs Barkley and Mayweather vs Castillo I.
I can go on and on.
And sure, while a little-known Frankie Randall defeated superstar Julio Cesar Chavez in their first encounter, don't forget the former needed a knockdown AND TWO one-point deductions just to eke out a victory in a bout he should have won unanimously.
Look for AJ to get the benefit of the doubt in close, hard-to-call rounds.