Anthony Joshua
Anthony Joshua Image Credit: Reuters

New York: Anthony Joshua will put his world heavyweight titles on the line against Mexico’s Andy Ruiz Jr at Madison Square Garden on June 1, the British boxer’s promoter announced on Wednesday.

Ruiz Jr, who will be bidding to become Mexico’s first heavyweight world champion, replaces Joshua’s scheduled opponent Jarrell Miller, who was barred from fighting after failing a drugs test.

“The chills — I’m really excited for this fight,” said Ruiz in a statement released by Matchroom Boxing, Joshua’s promoter.

Ruiz, from Imperial, was selected as Joshua’s opponent over former cruiserweight Michael Hunter, whose only loss was to the division’s unified champion Oleksandr Usyk.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn hinted his preference for Ruiz because of his natural fighting weight as a heavyweight, although Hearn expressed some concern that the portly Ruiz may be viewed as a substantial underdog to Joshua.

“I like Andy Ruiz. He’s a character,” Hearn said. “The tough sell with Andy Ruiz is, with the casual fan, they’re going to look at him in his shorts and say, ‘What’s that all about?’”

The bout will be Joshua’s US debut.