The neutral group of officials for the Anthony Joshua-Andy Ruiz Jr. rematch includes judges from England, the United States and Canada.
The sanctioning bodies involved in their second fight for the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles have approved Connecticut’s Glenn Feldman, England’s Steve Gray and Quebec’s Benoit Roussel to score it Saturday night in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. Puerto Rico’s Luis Pabon has been assigned as the referee for the immediate rematch between Joshua and Ruiz.
Contractual clauses assured Joshua and Ruiz neutrality among the officials for their 12-round rematch at Diriyah Arena.
Gray, of Fleetwood, England, has judged one of Joshua’s first 23 professional fights. He scored Joshua a 118-110 victor over New Zealand’s Joseph Parker in that 12-round title unification fight, which Joshua won by unanimous decision in March 2018 at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
Gray also has served as the referee for five of Joshua’s fights. Most recently, Gray stopped Joshua’s title defense against Alexander Povetkin in the seventh round 14 months ago at Wembley Stadium in London.
Feldman has judged one Joshua bout, but it resulted in a third-round stoppage of Eric Molina in December 2016 in Manchester, England. Roussel will judge a Joshua fight for the first time.
Pabon also will officiate his first Joshua bout. The contracts Joshua and Ruiz signed for their rematch ensured that the referee couldn’t come from the United Kingdom or the United States.
Neutral officials previously worked the first fight between Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs), of Imperial, California, and Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs), of Watford, England.
Canada’s Michael Griffin was the referee for their June 1 bout at New York’s famed Madison Square Garden, where Ruiz scored one of the biggest upsets in boxing history by stopping Joshua in the seventh round. Griffin halted the action at 1:27 of the seventh round because the heavily favored Joshua didn’t respond to his command to move forward from his corner.
Joshua contends he could’ve continued once he got up from his second knockdown of the seventh round and fourth knockout of the fight.
Two of the judges – England’s Michael Alexander (57-56) and American Julie Lederman (57-56) – had Ruiz in front through six rounds. The other judge, Canada’s Pasquale Procopio, had Joshua ahead, 57-56, entering the seventh round.
Joshua knocked down Ruiz in the third round. Ruiz recovered quickly, though, and floored Joshua twice later in the third.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.