Dubai: Former champion Anthony Joshua has declared that there will be no celebrations if he wins the Clash on the Dunes in Saudi Arabia on Saturday night.
But don’t expect the man he hopes to beat, Mexican Andy Ruiz Jr, to do the same.
Ruiz became an overnight boxing sensation when he stunned the British hero at Madison Square Garden, New York City, in June and the once-chubby boxer is revelling in being the centre of attention.
As Joshua seeks redemption by taking back the IBF, WBA and WBO titles that are now in Ruiz’s possession, he has shunned the ostentatious attitude of a boxer who uses trash talk and mind-games to unsettle his opponent.
Instead he remains determined and focused on the task ahead as he said: “I’m not here to put on a show I am here to win.
“When I regain those belts ... I am going to keep calm, stay focused. It’s not a time to celebrate. It’s a time to keep that challenger mindset and move on to the next target.”
A lot of the chivalrous build up to Sunday’s mega-fight is also a result of how Ruiz has approached the rematch, avoiding any controversy and only resorting to gimmicks like wearing a New York Knicks vest to remind Joshua of what happened in June.
It was the same jersey that the Mexican wore when he was photographer posing with Joshua’s world title belts after he dethroned the Brit.
“I don’t think there’s a reason to be trash-talking each other,” he said. “I know that’s what the fans and everybody else want to see, but that’s not how my mum raised me.
“I think I’m a different fighter from everybody else. I have respect for all the fighters. If I saw AJ right now I’d shake his hand, tell him: ‘Hey, how you doing? Good luck for December 7 — best man wins,’ stuff like that, you know?
“My whole life I’ve been fighting big guys. I feel that’s where I got the experience and I just thank my dad for always pushing me, even when I didn’t want to box any more.”
“My dad had confidence in me since I was a little kid. He would always tell me: ‘You know what? You’re going to beat him’. The main thing he would tell me was not to be scared, not to fear nobody because we’re all the same, all flesh and blood. Just go in there fearless, do what I do best, and let my hands go.”
And he promises to let his hands do the talking when the first bell rings for the Clash on the Dunes a little after midnight (UAE time) on Saturday.
Explaining why he was confident of beating Joshua again, the Mexican said: “I think it was my style, the way that I handled him, and that I took his punches. He gave me the hardest punches he has and I ate them.”
While Ruiz is likely to more or less stick to the same formula that saw him overwhelm Joshua the first time around, there are sure to be a lot of changes in the Brit’s approach to cope with an opponent who is constantly in his face.
As an Olympic champion, Joshua has inborn technical skills revolving around an imperious left-jab, which he throws straight or from the hip.
He must also use his uppercut more frequently and more accurately while moving his feet to create distance, but more than anything he must fight standing up and not drop to Ruiz’s level.
And he must show heart, and a lot of it, if he hopes to even the score against a man who has repeatedly said of Sunday’s fight: “This is not the end of me, this is the beginning.”
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