Pressure is all on Joshua, says Ruiz Jr, as belt defence in Saudi looms
03 Dec 2019
Andy Ruiz Jr poses with his belts at a media event in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, on Tuesday. Reuters
World heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr believes his re-match with Anthony Joshua will be a harder fight than his stunning victory in June but says all the pressure is on the Briton ahead of their showdown in Saudi Arabia this weekend.
Mexican-American Ruiz produced one of boxing’s biggest upsets when he dethroned the previously undefeated world champion Joshua with a seventh-round stoppage at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
“We’ve got to see where he’s at because all the pressure is on him. The pressure isn’t on me because I followed my dream, made my dreams come true,” Ruiz said ahead of the so-called ‘Clash on the Dunes’.
“Of course I want more though — I want the legacy of Andy Ruiz Jr.”
Ruiz knocked down Joshua four times in their bout in June but says his opponent will adopt a more cautious approach in the Diriyah Arena.
“I’m expecting that,” he said. “But if he wants to bang, it’s better for me. I love to bang because that’s the fighter that I am. We have to pressure, work the body, break him down. Especially his mentality.
“One punch can change the fight. That’s what happened on June 1. It might be a little harder than the first time. I’ve got to show my skills, my talent.”
Ruiz Jr has suffered only one defeat in 34 fights, losing a majority decision to Joseph Parker in 2016.
He said it will be a clash of styles when he faces Joshua again and believes the former Olympic champion will struggle to fathom an effective strategy.
“I don’t think he’s ever fought a short guy that pressures, and is pretty slick,” the 30-year-old Ruiz Jr said. “I felt like I was boxing him around even though I was the shorter guy.
“He saw something that he’s never seen before. Styles make fights. His style was perfect for me to become the unified heavyweight champion.”
Meanwhile, Joshua has been taking advice on his training regime and diet from former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko ahead of his title rematch with Ruiz Jr.
Klitschko was defeated by Joshua in 2017 at Wembley Stadium with a technical knockout and the two boxers have stayed in touch even after the Ukrainian retired later that year at the age of 41.
“He said loads of stuff to me, Wlad was definitely ahead of the game. He’s more disciplined than me, he’s more diplomatic,” Joshua told British media.
“He was giving me dietary and training advice and that is maybe what people are talking about now when they see a difference in my body. Maybe that’s why — because I’ve adapted some of his teaching — my weight may fluctuate.”
The 30-year-old Briton is looking for redemption having triggered a rematch clause, admitting his first defeat had made him a smarter fighter. Joshua says the belts would not define his legacy.
“There’s nothing I’ve missed about being world champion,” Joshua said. “I’ve always said the belt should never define the man. I walked as a champion before I even had a belt. This is fighting. One loss doesn’t take the spots off a cheetah. We don’t play games when it comes to boxing, we’re serious and after I took the loss I’ve had time to reflect.
“I now have things to prove to myself. I want to take it more seriously because I’m going to that next level.”