Andy Ruiz Jr says the scariest thing for Anthony Joshua to contemplate as he prepares for their rematch will not be the idea that Ruiz could knock him out, but the thought that he could takes his best shots and still come back firing.
Prior to facing Ruiz on June 1 in New York, Joshua had stopped every opponent he had put on the canvas. But that run finished there, as Joshua knocked down Ruiz, but ended up getting stopped himself.
“He did get me,” Ruiz said. “That was my first time getting dropped but I got up. It didn’t really hurt. He got me with a strong right hand and was trying to finish me off. But I ate that.
“I remember when he hit me and was trying to win it and I was just trying to stay in the pocket, to stay in the fight. I’m the type of fighter who is going to go in there and give it everything. There’s nothing to lose in that moment.
“It should be scary for him to know that. I’m a warrior, I take shots, I give shots back. On December 7 there is going to be a lot of action in this, a lot of action.”
Joshua has been installed as a strong favourite with bookmakers to regain the WBA, WBO, IBO and IBF heavyweight titles that he lost to Ruiz when they meet in a purpose-built arena in Diriyah, on the outskirts of the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh. But Ruiz will not be taking anything lightly.
“I don’t underestimate any fighter,” Ruiz said. “I know AJ’s going to come stronger and more focused but inside the gym, like Mike Tyson says, everyone has a plan until they get hit.
“I’m sure everybody was trying to look for an excuse and reason why he didn’t perform and why he lost. I think it was down to the style. Styles make fights and I’ve been calling AJ out for a while. I knew his style was perfect for me and that’s why I plan to do the same thing.”
Ruiz has been showing off some of his many purchases since becoming world champion, including a new home, but he insists that is not a sign that he has lost focus on his career.
“This is all material stuff,” Ruiz said. “Yes, material stuff I always wanted. But what I really want is a legacy, not just 15 minutes of fame. The main thing is that I remain humble, stay disciplined, stay training and continue to be champion.
“Ever since I won the world title I’ve been having so much love from my people. I understood that because I don’t want to let my people down, my fans down. This is something new for me but I don’t want to give it away. I want to train hard. I know Joshua is going to come hard so I have to train even harder.
“He’s going to be prepared, I’m going to be prepared. As long as we stay disciplined we’re going to have the same result.”
The highlight for Ruiz since his win in June, as well as not having to worry about bills any more, was meeting the Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, having previously stated that he had no interest in meeting Donald Trump, the US President.
He has watched his victory back numerous times as well.
“Not daily, but I have seen it a lot of times,” he said. “I was pinching myself to see if it was real. I was watching it and watching it, to see the number of mistakes I made so that I can improve as well.”
But, as he showed in June, people should not be fooled by his friendly personality.
“That’s just how I am,” he said. “Until today I’m still a nice guy. I still respect Anthony Joshua. I’m still a fan of what he has done in boxing. He’s been a champion.
“But inside the ring, as I told him, inside the ring, there’s no friends, there’s no respect, it’s just me and you, trying to rip each other’s face off. In my eyes, when I’m in the ring I feel he’s there trying to take my kids’ Cheerios, their fruit juice. That’s what gives me the extra motivation.”