The clock is ticking down to the December 7 rematch of Anthony Joshua and his conqueror, Andy Ruiz Jr as the former is attempting to regain his lost four title belts. Joshua has moved to Saudi Arabia for the last phase of his preparation for the bout. According to UK’s Daily Mail, Joshua is promising to produce a performance to remember when the pair enter the ring.
This is against the background of a stern warning from Evander Holyfield Former World Heavyweight champion to Joshua. Evander Holyfield believes Andy Ruiz Jr can show the world his knockout of Anthony Joshua was no fluke when they meet again.
Joshua, who was handed his first professional defeat by Ruiz Jr earlier this year at Madison Square Garden in New York, is fighting in a bid to reclaim the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO belts and set up a unification fight in 2020 with WBC champion Deontay Wilder.
Former heavyweight champion Holyfield insists AJ needs to change his tactics or faces losing again. Speaking to World Boxing News, he said: “Andy Ruiz Jr. really can fight. He has fast hands and can really hit hard. But don’t nobody seem to know it.
“Everyone is thinking it’s a fluke (that he beat Anthony Joshua the first time), but the guy showed he can get up from being knocked down. He got took down and got back up to win.” He added: “You look at Ruiz and he doesn’t look like he can fight at all. Nothing tells you he can fight, but he can fight.
“I knew that he could fight because I sparred with him. At the time, I was 46 and he was 19. I couldn’t believe a 19-year-old could be that good and so aggressive, he would chase me down.
“I’m like, ‘I’m the heavyweight champion of the world, who’s he trying to chase down?’ It was just amazing the confidence that he had and the persistence to cut the ring down even in sparring. “So, I know that persistently, he will fight that same fight that he fought last time. If he’s (Joshua) not ready to have someone in his face in the whole fight then it could end up the same way again.”
The 30-year-old Joshua was all smiles on arrival in Saudi arabia with his entourage as he was met by some fans and attention now turns to avenging defeat with a performance that boxing fans will speak of for years to come.
With four of the five heavyweight division belts on the line and Joshua’s credibility at stake, there is a lot of pressure on the Watford-born fighter ahead of the rematch. But Joshua appears relaxed despite the pressure and was in high spirits as he arrived at King Khalid Airport in Riyadh.
‘It’s going to be an incredible night and I’m thrilled so many of my fans are going to be there, particularly from the UK,’ Joshua said. ‘It’ll definitely be a night people will tell their grandchildren they were at, one of those iconic evenings of boxing. Everyone from Saudi has been brilliant to work with.’
Now having touched down in the country, Joshua will set-up his pre-fight training camp in a bid to acclimatise in the build-up to the fight. The ‘Clash On The Dunes’, as the fight is being dubbed, is the first World Heavyweight Boxing title fight to be held in the Middle East.
Joshua and defending champion Ruiz Jr will fight at the custom-built 15,000 seat Diriyah Arena in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Victory is essential for Joshua if he is to get his career back on track with 2020 set to be another box-office year in the heavyweight division. Wilder will be watching the Middle East contest with interest as the WBC champion is keen to agree a unification bout with the victor.
With additional reports by Talksports and The Sports Village Square
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