Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 14 October 2019

Anthony Joshua calls defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr 'a blip', and one that he will rectify when they meet again in Saudi Arabia

British fighter has the chance to reclaim his IBF, WBA, and WBO world heavyweight titles on December 7

WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr, left, will defend the belts he won off Anthony Joshua when the two fighters meet again at the "Clash on the Dunes" in December. AFP
WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr, left, will defend the belts he won off Anthony Joshua when the two fighters meet again at the "Clash on the Dunes" in December. AFP

Anthony Joshua says he will prove his shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr was merely a blip as he vows to come out fast when the pair meet for their rematch in Saudi Arabia later this year.

The British boxer, 29, will take on Ruiz in a fight billed “Clash on the Dunes” at the Unesco heritage site of Diriyah, just outside Riyadh, on December 7.

In June, Joshua relinquished the IBF, WBO and WBA world heavyweight titles to the unheralded Mexican-American in New York, when he was knocked down four times on way to a seventh-round stoppage. The champion had appeared strangely subdued during the ring walk at Madison Square Garden.

A huge underdog, Ruiz accepted the fight at short notice and was expected to offer little resistance. It was Joshua’s first defeat in 23 professional bouts.

Speaking on Eddie Hearn's BBC podcast No Passion, No Point Joshua said: “I think I had to grieve and ask myself all the questions you would expect. People say 'you lost'; I call it a blip.

"I can't wait to get in there and fight him. Every time I have fought a champion I have risen to the occasion."

Saudi Arabia secured the high-profile fight ahead of the United States and the UK, the first time the kingdom has hosted a boxing event of this magnitude.

This fight will be the third world-level boxing event to be staged in Saudi Arabia, after the super-middleweight World Boxing Super Series final between Callum Smith and George Groves – which Smith won via a seventh-round stoppage – in September last year, and Amir Khan's WBC welterweight fight against Billy Dib last month. Khan won that fight with a fourth-round knockout.

Keen to commemorate the historic occasion, Joshua is understandably determined to make amends for his poor performance less than six months ago.

"I need to start taking this approach to my fights where I'm a bit more lively," he said. "I know I'm capable of it. There is too much at stake. If I go in there where I'm switched on, a time like the Ruiz fight where I am so relaxed, that might be the difference."

Ruiz has won 33 professional fights, claiming 22 knockouts, against one defeat – to New Zealand's Joseph Parker in December 2016 in a close majority-points decision.

Joshua has won 22 professional fights, with 21 knockouts. His sole defeat was to Ruiz.

Updated: September 18, 2019 12:40 PM

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