Anthony Joshua returns to the ring in Saudi Arabia this Saturday night as he looks to take revenge on Andy Ruiz Jr and win back the heavyweight titles he lost in June.

Boxing fans can look forward to a night full of heavyweight action as Dillian Whyte (26-1) bids to put a hellish few months behind him and contenders Alexander Povetkin (35-2) and Michael Hunter (18-1) come head to head in a great heavyweight contest. Up and coming Croatian heavyweight Filip Hrgović (9-0), faces the experienced American Eric Molina (27-5) and decorated amateur star Mahammadrasul Majidov makes his second pro outing.

For many, including rival Tyson Fury this is a must-win fight for Joshua, “If he can’t make a comeback, if he can’t beat Andy Ruiz Jr, you ain’t going to do anything to Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder or any other decent heavyweight in the world either. If he can’t beat Ruiz in the rematch he’s done, finished, goodnight, bye-bye.” Fury told iFLTV.

During ‘The Gloves are Off’ with Johnny Nelson, Joshua quickly shut down speculation that he’ll retire if he loses Andy Ruiz Jr rematch. “I say, ‘You didn’t tell me to get in the gym so who are you to tell me to get out of the gym? I swear I’ll fight till I’m 50. I fight because I love the game.”

In the first fight, Ruiz was the aggressor, holding the centre of the ring and caught Joshua with rapid combinations. A flash knockdown saw Ruiz hit the canvas in the 3rd, but he quickly recovered to return the favour knocking down the champion twice before the bell. Joshua did well in the 4th & 5th to keep it at range and recover, but it was Ruiz again who pressed in the 6th showing no respect for Joshua’s power. Two more knockdowns followed in the 7th, before the referee stopped the fight as Joshua failed to convince him he was ok to continue.

Asked by Johnny Nelson if Joshua quit in the first fight, Ruiz replied “A little bit. Maybe, I feel he quit because of the way that it was won. “I think he was still out of it. But I didn’t think he knew where he was at that moment. I think that he quit.”

This time round it seems both fighters have shed weight and promoter Eddie Hearn is expecting Joshua to surprise people on the scales and come in lighter than he did in his fight with Vladimir Klitschko (250lbs) back in 2017.

Joshua has brought in additional padmen and numerous new sparring partners including Dereck Chisora, Byrant Jennings and Mayweather fighter Andrew Tabiti to help sharpen his tools to avenge the shock loss to Ruiz Jr.

There has been conflicting news in the media this week, World Boxing News reported on Monday that AJ was rocked by an unnamed sparring partner. This was quickly denied by promoter Eddie Hearn who told Behind the Gloves that camp could not have gone better and rubbished the rumour, ‘It’s not even worth answering, but the truth is, he’s had a great camp.”

Joshua’s head coach, Rob McCracken told Sky Sports that Joshua needs to use his advantages (height and reach), stick to the tactics and box more like he did in the Joseph Parker fight – keeping it at range, behind a solid jab.

“He got the win using his tactics smartly against Parker,” “I think he’s got to do something, not the same, but similar. He’s got to stick to the tactics. Get behind the jab, start boxing and get the win.”

Ruiz told Sky Sports Boxing Chief Adam Smith, he is expecting Joshua to box around and keep it at range which he believes will play into his hands and is looking forward to showing people more of his skills and talent on December 7. One big question mark which hangs over Joshua is his ability to take a shot, and if Joshua does come in lighter, Ruiz is not convinced he will take the punches as well as he did when he weighed more.

Boxing Guru prediction – Joshua KO, round 8

WILL IT BE REPEAT OR REVENGE? HAVE YOUR SAY!

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Date – 7th December 2019
Broadcaster – Sky Sports Box Office & DAZN
Promoter – Matchroom Boxing
Venue – MGM Grand, Las Vegas
Photographer – Ed Mulholland

 

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