By Miguel Maravilla
Unified WBA, WBO, IBF, and IBO heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. (33-1, 22 KO’s) of Imperial Valley, California is ready to start where he left off against former heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (22-1, 21 KO’s) of England in a rematch this Saturday December 7th at Diriyah Stadium in Saudi Arabia live on DAZN.
“We have been working hard. We are ready,” Ruiz told Fightnews.com® while in camp.
Dubbed as the Clash in the Dunes, the Ruiz vs. Joshua rematch will be the first ever heavyweight world championship fight in the Middle East.
“At first I thought we were gonna go fight in New York. I thought we were going to run it back. When they said Saudi Arabia, I was iffy but when I came here the first time, it’s really a beautiful country. It couldn’t be in a better place than Saudi Arabia,” Ruiz commented.
“It feels good. You know I made history in New York and I’ll make history again in Saudi Arabia,” the champ said as he landed last week in Saudi Arabia at Khalid International Airport in Riyadh.
The champ began his camp in Guadalajara, Mexico then resumed his training in Southern California as held a closed-door training camp in Norwalk, California under the orders of his trainer Manny Robles as he prepares for the rematch.
“I’ve already had a three-month camp. So I’m ready. We have been practicing what AJ does. We have had good sparring. We had a great camp and are prepared to do, what we have to do December 7th,” Ruiz on his preparation.
Getting his first world title shot in 2016. Ruiz came up short in his bid at a world title in dropping a close majority decision to former world champion Joseph Parker in New Zealand. In that fight, Ruiz came in trained by veteran respected trainer Abel Sanchez, who is known for his work with many world champions and former trainer of current middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. Following the Parker fight, Ruiz decided that a change was necessary.
“If I would’ve had Manny with me vs. Joseph Parker. I would’ve won. He has me pressure more or practice more head movement,” Ruiz added.
After suffering the first defeat of his career and coming up short of becoming heavyweight champion, Ruiz won two straight fights against lower opposition. A knockout over Devin Vargas and journeyman Kevin Johnson and it was said he bought out the remainder of his promotional agreement with Top Rank. Shortly after Ruiz signed with Al Haymon/PBC.
“I believed in myself. I had my opportunity against Joseph Parker. So I did not want to let this one slip by.
Ruiz made his PBC debut in April, scoring an impressive knockout over Alexander Dimitrenko in five.
“After I fought Dimitrenko. I felt good,” Ruiz said.
With Anthony Joshua’s, United States debut scheduled to take place in early June vs. Jarrell Miller. The stage was set but Ruiz’s fate would be decided when Miller tested positive multiple times for a banned substance. As a result, Joshua was left without an opponent as Promoter Eddie Hearn scrambled around to find a replacement.
“I bugged Eddie Hearn for that fight and I got it,” Ruiz stated. “Joshua was the perfect style for me to become champion,”
The saying goes, one person’s loss is another person’s gain. On June 1st at Madison Square Garden, Ruiz looked to take advantage of the opportunity. A huge left hook by the champ Joshua sat Ruiz down in third round as the Brits roared in excitement, Ruiz was back up on his feet as Joshua known to be a fast finisher attacked but a huge left hook by Ruiz rocked the Englishman and shortly after was down on the canvas. Moments later, Ruiz scored another knockdown in what was definitely the round of the year.
“He got me with an uppercut and a hook. For me I thought it was a lucky shot for him. I got lazy in the third. I was never hurt, I still at that fire and will,” Ruiz explained. “Then I got him with a left hook,”
From that moment on it was an entirely different fight as all the momentum was on Ruiz’s side. The Mexican-American would send Joshua to the canvas two more times before the referee Michael Griffin waved it off in the seventh. With the stoppage, Ruiz would become the new heavyweight champion and become the first heavyweight champion of Mexican descent in scoring one of the biggest heavyweight upsets since Buster Douglas’s knockout over Mike Tyson.
“When I saw the referee wave it off, that was the happiest day in my life. It’s a big blessing,” Ruiz recalls.
Come Saturday night the champ looks to successfully defend his titles and prove to the world that the first fight was definitely no fluke as Ruiz feels he deserves his respect. For Anthony Joshua, Ruiz sees it differently.
“All the pressure is on him,” Ruiz said. “There is still more to prove. I want to prove everybody wrong,” Ruiz stated.
Expect Joshua fighting more cautiously and not taking the risk he took the first fight. For Ruiz, it will be a constant body attack set up by the jab as he will definitely be looking for the knockout once again. Will it be repeat or revenge?
“If he wants to bang. Even better. If he wants to box, I can cut off the ring. I’m sure he is going to want to box.”
Follow Miguel on Twitter @MigMaravilla