There are just three days to go until the fight of the year.
On December 7, it’s all eyes on Diriyah for The Clash of the Dunes, which sees the rematch between Anthony Joshua and the man who defeated him to claim AJ's world titles back in June, Andy Ruiz Jr.
Ruiz Jr has been speaking to The Sportsman from the Saudi Arabian capital on what boxing fans should expect from him come Saturday night. Once the underdog who stunned the boxing world with victory over the British heavyweight at Madison Square Garden earlier in the year, Ruiz Jr. now has the arguably even harder task of defending his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles against a man he left bruised and embarrassed in the spotlight, producing one of the most surprising victories in the sport’s recent history.
The Mexican-American, sweaty but noticeably relaxed after an open training session, did however continue to demonstrate the humility, modesty but also determination that has propelled him so spectacularly onto the world’s stage.
And according to Ruiz Jr. those expecting Joshua to wreak retribution after his June humiliation will be sorely disappointed. For Ruiz Jr, repeat not revenge is on the menu.
“We’ve been working really hard,” said the 30-year-old, “I’m still motivated.
“People are saying that I’m not hungry. I want to keep these bouts. I want to remain champion.
I’m ready for whatever comes my way.
Ruiz Jr. has been noticeably adverse to verbally attacking his opponent but emphasised that he is determined to upset the odds once again.
“I’ve never really talked bad about [Joshua]. The main thing is [to] stay focused, be disciplined and do what I’ve got to do on December 7th. I’ll do that trash-talking inside the ring.”
“My prediction? Winning.
“I don’t predict a knockout. If it comes it comes.
We’re just going to die trying.
Joshua meanwhile has already stated that he expects there to be a third bout between the two pugilists in the future, but in regards to this initial sizzling sequel in Saudi, has predicted one of them will taste canvas at the new specially built 15,000 stadium.
“This isn’t the last time I will be seeing Andy Ruiz in the ring,” Joshua said. “I think we make for good fights. I think there is going to be a knockout on Saturday and that is what people want to see, bloodshed and knockouts. And we’ll definitely see each other the third time.”
We are going to go hard, trust me.
Joshua has shed the weight ahead of stepping into the ring and is expected to come in at around 17st 2lb, down a good eight pounds from the first fight. The warrior from Watford is taking things extremely seriously this time around. Underestimating his rival isn’t a mistake he’s going to make twice.
“I am not looking for anything except the win. That’s the objective. It’s not about speed. It’s like night and day. I shed some skin last time. Rebuilt myself.
“The objective is just about to win, win, win."