Ahead of his United States debut next month, Anthony Joshua has spoken out about opponent Andy Ruiz Jr and admitted he hasn’t underestimated the American-Mexican heavyweight. The bookies strongly favour an AJ victory, and you can bet on Anthony Joshua v Andy Ruiz Jr, but the Brit is more than aware of the threat Ruiz Jr can pose.
The title fight is penciled in for 1st June at Madison Square Garden, and Ruiz Jr has the chance to become the first ever Mexican heavyweight champion. He almost beat Joseph Parker in his last and only other title shot in 2016, so AJ knows just what to expect on fight night.
What was said?
“It’s not about what you look like, it’s a craft, a skill, and what’s in your heart and your head matters in the end,” Joshua told BBC Sport.
“Andy has shown he has all that, he can fight and box, that’s what matters. I think Andy is a great challenger and will bring it on June 1.
“All I’ve heard is ‘AJ will smash him in a round’. From the outside they think that anyone can box, so how is the guy that doesn’t look like a fighter able to box? I always say that if you put ten bodybuilders in the ring, not one of them could fight for a regional title in boxing.
“Take me out of my body but keep the same attributes and height, same jab, same chin, same heart and same mind, but I looked different – I’d still get to the same position I am in because it’s what is within you that makes a champion, your genetics, and his genetics are the same – and he took the fight!”
In Ruiz’s 33 bouts as a professional, he has only lost one to date and that was against Parker in Auckland. The defeat came via a majority decision and even to this day, the result was very questionable. Ruiz Jr looked to have done enough to dethrone Parker, but the Kiwi retained his WBO title despite looking second best in the earlier and championship rounds.
Joshua fought Parker in March 2018 and won via a unanimous decision, and it was the first time Joshua had fought all 12 rounds. On reflection, AJ schooled Parker, but he didn’t look as confident and assured as he normally would, something Ruiz Jr must try and capitalise on if he demonstrates such frailties.
Realistically, Joshua has more than enough in his arsenal to defeat Ruiz Jr but as his comments say, it won’t be a walk in the park and Ruiz Jr is a dangerous fighter. Renowned for his heavy hits and surprisingly quick feet, Ruiz Jr is very durable in the ring and if he can land a few early blows on AJ, it could pave the way for one of the biggest upsets in boxing history.