Saudi news channel, Arab News has reported that World heavyweight challenger Anthony Joshua was full of praise for Saudi Arabia as he said he was fully prepared for his bout with reigning champion Andy Ruiz Jr. in Diriyah on Saturday.
Joshua admitted he has felt “different” since losing to Ruiz in New York in June, but sent a powerful message to the Mexican-American during the intense first face off of the week in Saudi Arabia.
“I didn’t lose heart or fire in my belly,” Joshua said about losing to Ruiz Jr earlier this year. “There is no fear in my heart, my eyes or my mind.
“I didn’t lose any commitment. There was a big change and a big shift in the division so it definitely feels different. I turn this stuff into a positive otherwise it will eat you up, and will fold into a way that I don’t want it to go.
“I had to own the situation and make it work for me,” he said during Wednesday’s press conference.
Ruiz Jr. entered the Riyadh conference wearing the same New York Knicks jersey he wore in the press conference ahead of their first fight six months ago, during which Joshua let Ruiz hold the championship belts.
Having taken them permanently in a victory that shocked the boxing world, Ruiz Jr. did not extend the courtesy to his challenger.
“You always need a challenger’s mind-set. I said that with the belts around my waist,” Joshua said.
“Hungry, determined, focused on the goal.
“Will it be a special moment (if Ruiz wins)? No because I know I belong there. When I regain the belts I will keep cool, and keep a challenger’s mind-set and move onto the next target. IBF, WBA and WBO champion Ruiz Jr. replied: “AJ will come with a different game-plan and I know he is prepared, so I will be more cautious.
“He lost weight and will try to box me around.
“I don’t want to let these beautiful belts go. Now that I finally made my dreams come true, there is no way I will let them go.”
Joshua and Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn praised the welcome they had received in the Kingdom and the quality of the facilities for their preparation.
“It’s a complete change and a new dawn for the sport of boxing and we cannot thank the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Skills Challenge Entertainment and the General Sports Authority enough for everything they have done,” Hearn said.
“They have kept their word on everything they said they would do.”