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Days Away From Ruiz-Joshua Rematch, And AJ Looks Loose and Confident

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He doesn’t LOOK tight. Anthony Joshua doesn’t have a game-face jaw clench thing going on, he looks relaxed, like he knows something. 

Oh, but we won’t know if he knows or thought he knew, until that bell dings in the desert, and Andy Ruiz tries to make him have a flashback, to that June 1 in NYC…

…when something didn’t feel right and things damn well didn’t go right.

In Manhattan, the Snickers chomping Cali boxer went from B level sort to king of the world, from scrimping and saving and keeping fingers crossed that the ship comes in, to being able to say, “I’ll have one of those, and three of those,” and not have to bother checking the account level to see if he can cover it. 

The champ and the challenger faced media for the first time this week at the official fighter’s arrival party at the Centria Mall in Riyadh ahead of their clash, part of an effort by the Saudis to show the world an open and pleasant side of themselves, at Diriyah Arena in Saudi Arabia on Saturday December 7, shown live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and DAZN in the US. 

Ruiz told BBC Sport: “I have been enjoying life. This is just the beginning.” And we wondered, does he wonder? Does he KNOW he can replicate his June jam sesh, once again impose his will and impress with his skill, on the Brit? 

“I sure haven’t stopped smiling. I have been so happy how my life has changed for my wife, my kids, my whole family. I am blessed with all that came my way,” said the 30 year old with a 33-1 record. And, we wondered again. Is he mentally dialed in, on that same wavelength, as he was in June? Then, he had nothing to lose, he was making a fat check and if he lost, well, he was expected to. Oh, but he didn’t lose. He won impressively…and he then celebrated impressively. Yep, kid soaked up the good vibes, and smelled every rose offered to him.  All of the pressure is on him, not on me as I followed my dream and made it come true.”

Speaking to BBC Sport Joshua said: “There are things I have had to do to take me to the next level. I am confident I can be victorious and when I am I will tell everyone of how I went wrong.

“I do feel different. I feel confident, I believe,” and we believe…but out of the ring and in there, different situations…

“I have been boxing since 2008. It’s almost like it’s been given to me. Now I am back to the days of being younger, striving. I am a challenger. This is my chance at the Heavyweight Championship of the World. The event starts when I am victorious. Then I will tell you about my story, what I have come through, the obstacles.” Interesting; he is holding out the promise of revelations to come. What obstacles is he referring to? Mental? Physical? Both? We will have to wait to see how the Ruiz-Joshua rematch plays out…

On the undercard in Saudi Arabia: 

Russian Alexander Povetkin (35-2, 24 KOs) returns from his August triumph over Hughie Fury to take on American Michael Hunter (18-1, 12 KOs) in an eliminator for the WBA World Title.

Also, Dillian Whyte (26-1, 18 KOs), looking to ignore the black cloud  PED positive from July, takes on Poland’s former world title challenger Mariusz Wach (35-5, 19 KOs). After losses to Big Baby Miller, Artur Szpilka and Martin Bakole, the 39 year old Wach bounced back with wins over two sub-superstars, in Poland.

Croatian heavyweight Filip Hrgovic (9-0, 7 KOs) steps up to face former world title challenger Eric Molina (27-5, 19 KOs) as he puts his WBC International Championship on the line for the third time.

Tom Little (10-7, 3 KOs) meets heavyweight Mahammadrasul Majidov (1-0, 1 KO), and Hopey Price (1-0) and LA super-middleweight Diego Pacheco (7-0, 6 KOs) will also be eager to impress at Diriyah Arena, as A side favorites. Zuhayr Al Qahtani  (7-0) meets Omar Dusary (7-0-1, 1 KO) for the WBC Middle East Lightweight Title and UAE Lightweight Majid Al Naqbi (3-0, 1 KO) seeks to show fans that UAE talent can shine. 

About Michael Woods

Michael Woods

Editor/publisher Michael Woods became addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the fearsome Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist Woods has covered the sport since then, for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN New York, RING, and he was editor of TheSweetScience.com from 2007-2015. Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and numerous other organizations.

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