Ruiz Jr vs Joshua 2: Anthony Joshua warned over rematch complacency by Hasim Rahman
Ring walks 8.45pm on Saturday for Ruiz Jr vs Joshua 2, live on Sky Sports Box Office
By Matt Horan
Last Updated: 05/12/19 2:33pm
Anthony Joshua can secure instant redemption and regain his heavyweight world titles with a victory this Saturday, reigniting a threatened legacy, but the risk of defeat remains and one man knows all too well how a second fight can turn into a nightmare.
Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr are just days away from tussling again in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, live on Sky Sports Box Office, six months on from that chaotic and defining night in New York when the Mexican underdog changed the course of heavyweight history.
The challenge was soon set in motion - can 'AJ' immediately reverse that stoppage loss and turn the tables on his conqueror within half a year?
Lennox Lewis, perhaps, provides the greatest model for emulation, a spectacular knockout in Las Vegas 18 years earlier, in a near-identical assignment to his countryman's, one passed with flying colours. But it is not Lewis who has cautious words of advice for Joshua on the eve of battle, but the man he beat that night, Hasim Rahman, a man who still regrets how it all went badly wrong...
Almost two decades have since passed and the frustration persists, the failure to change his gameplan from the first victorious shootout, the failure to adjust to Lewis, the complacency that he believes cost him the world titles he had worked so hard to acquire.
"I did get complacent. I forgot this man was an Olympic gold medallist who had beat everybody, and who could really punch," the Baltimore heavy continues.
"I remember Lennox and I getting into an altercation and I just felt that I was so much stronger, it gave me a false sense of security. I could go in there and let him do whatever he needed to do, then when I hit him, it would be over.
"But he was ready for it because my gameplan didn't change. His gameplan changed. If there was a third fight and I could make adjustments, maybe it would be a different story but I never got that opportunity."
Rahman, who officially retired five years ago after a 62-fight career, now warns Joshua of making the same mistakes.
"Look, Ruiz Jr doesn't have to change anything but Joshua has to make an adjustment - Ruiz Jr does not have time to prepare for this adjustment. Joshua can gameplan for Ruiz Jr. Ruiz Jr's disadvantage is having to adapt on the fly.
"Joshua has the edge because he can make a change. He can turn this into a fight where he uses his height and reach, Klitschko-like. Grab when close, jab, right hand, jab, jab, get out of the way.
"But If he [Joshua] comes out with revenge on his mind and tries to bang, he will get knocked out again, it's over."
Before attention turns to the main attraction in Saudi Arabia, Rahman - now a manager and trainer within the sweet science at 47-years old - is tasked with guiding fellow Baltimore man Michael Hunter to a defining victory over fearsome Russian Alexander Povetkin.
Hunter meets Povetkin in a WBA world title eliminator, hoping to announce himself among the heavyweight elite.
"Round eight, nine or 10? You will see Povetkin go down," 'The Rock' insists.
"You will see Hunter display a beautiful gameplan, showing his brilliant boxing. He is the best boxer-puncher in the heavyweight division. Beautiful hand speed, beautiful foot movement, beautiful defence… then you will see the power.
"Michael brings something unique, he fights like a middleweight but with a heavyweight punch. People say he can't punch? You don't see nobody walk through them. His last four fights haven't been competitive and Michael came in as the B-side."
Rahman's passion for the sport is far from dwindling and, through Hunter, another world-title success could soon be realised.
Watch Ruiz Jr vs Joshua 2 on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Box Office, from 5pm. Book it via your Sky remote or book it online here. Even if you aren't a Sky TV subscriber you can book and watch it here.