By Doug Berman: Anthony Joshua and IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. met earlier today in their kickoff news conference in SAudi Arabia to talk about their rematch on December 7. This is the first of three consecutive press conferences. The next press conference will in London followed by New York.
For some reason, Ruiz’s home state of California is being skipped for the press conferences. That likely has to do with the fact Joshua having more fans in New York than in Southern California. Joshua’s promoters at Matchroom have control over the rematch. So it makes sense for them to have staged the press conferences in locations where Joshua would have the majority of the fans.
Anthony Joshua attempts to intimidate Andy Ruiz during face off
Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) looked like he was attempting to intimidate Ruiz Jr. (33-1, 22 KOs) during their face off at the end of the press conference. The look on Joshua’s face during the stare down had mean intentions on it. In contrast, Ruiz smiled in a friendly manner, letting Joshua it’s not personal between them. It’s a sport. Ruiz won’t be beaten by angry glares by Joshua the second time around.
Andy Ruiz Jr: I’m going to win just like I did June 1
“The hunger still remains,” Ruiz Jr. said during Wednesday’s press conference in SAudi Arabia. “I don’t want 15 minutes of fame, and I want it to last. And, I want a generation. I want to be a champion for more years. Two big heavyweights punching each other in the face, it’s going to be exciting. “I know Anthony Joshua is coming hard, he’s coming strong. He’s more hungry, he wants his belts back. He’s preparing hard, but so am I. There’s a lot of responsibilities. I’m going to try my best. And, I’m going to keep those belts and I’m going to have them back in Mexico. I’m going to win here in the same fashion that I won on June 1,” said Ruiz.
It’s generally agreed that Joshua is going to come into the rematch with Ruiz better prepared. Joshua says the reason he lost to Ruiz last June was because he got hit by a “lucky punch, a punch sent by the Gods.” AJ further added this about Ruiz: ‘He ain’t that skillful.” With Joshua’s sour grapes comments about Ruiz, many fans view him in a different light now. They see him as a poor sport, a fighter unable to admit when he’s been beaten by the better guy. Joshua lashing out at former heavyweight world champion Lennox LeWIS in calling him a “clown” after he gave him some helpful advice, adds to the perception he’s the guy people thought he was. LeWIS says Joshua is under pressure, and disturbed right now.
Joshua says Ruiz Jr. will be champion until December 7
“I was up against a good challenger. Andy is champion now,” said Joshua at the press conference in SAudi Arabia on Wednesday. “That will last until December 7 when he puts his titles in the air. Two warriors to go war and the best man will walk out victorious. Being a champion is more than the belts. It’s about a championship mindset. The belts will go up in the air and we will fight for them again.”
Joshua is correct about what it means to be a champion, but he fails to say that he’s clearly not a champion. It’s going to take more than mind-babble for Joshua to defeat Ruiz in the rematch. Moreover, Joshua needs to convince the Boxing public that he’s not the vulnerable fighter that Ruiz obliterated last June, because the fans have made up their minds about him. Joshua will need to win in a non-controversial manner, and that may be hard for him to do. Ruiz has the better chin, and the superior hand speed and stamina.
Ruiz, 29, pulled off a major upset on June 1 in knocking Joshua down 4 times before stopping him in round 7 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Going into the fight, Joshua was a monstrous favorite to defeat the American Ruiz, and send him backing for home. Joshua looked good in dropping Ruiz in round 3, but he wasn’t ready for the fire power that he unleashed after he got up off the deck. Ruiz dropped Joshua twice in the 3rd round, and had him fighting on fumes the remainder of the contest.
“It’s time to turn the page. Dreams do come true, but now it’s a reality,” said Ruiz’s trainer Manny Robles today. “It’s time to go to work. I can promise the fans that Andy will be ready. He’ll be ready for the challenge. There will be changes. Obviously we will be more time to prepare this time around,” said Robles.