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Anthony Joshua 'going to battle' to stage rematch with Andy Ruiz in Cardiff

British boxer suffered a shock defeat in June but the location of the contracted rematch has proved a sticking point

Anthony Joshua was defeated in the seventh round by Andy Ruiz Jr in June and now is set to have his rematch in Saudi Arabia. PA Photo
Anthony Joshua was defeated in the seventh round by Andy Ruiz Jr in June and now is set to have his rematch in Saudi Arabia. PA Photo

Boxing's former heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua has said he would prefer for his rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr to take place in Cardiff, but insisted he does not ultimately care about the location, with his focus solely on winning back the titles.

Joshua suffered one of the greatest shocks in boxing history in June when he was stopped in the seventh round on his American debut by Ruiz, who had been a late replacement at four weeks' notice for the banned Jarrell Miller. The loss at Madison Square Garden meant the 29-year-old Briton also gave up his WBA, IBF, WBC and IBO world titles.

One saving grace for Joshua was the rematch clause in the contract, which has been immediately activated, and the Olympic champion will have his shot at revenge before the end of the year, with the end of November or beginning of December mooted.

The major sticking point appears to be the location for the fight. Ruiz is not keen on travelling to the UK, while Joshua and his team would prefer a homecoming bout.

“I see that Ruiz has done a lot of talking about what he wants, but he doesn’t call the shots in that sense," Joshua told Sky Sports from his boxing club in London.

"I don’t mind fighting in America, I’ve done it before but I would love to fight here [in the UK] because I had no reason to go there in the first place. I went there off my own back, so for the rematch I would love for it to be in Cardiff.

"Ruiz is the champ so he will make some calls as well, but I’m going to battle for it to be in the UK because it’s my stomping ground. I did one out there, so let’s do the rematch here. I think it would be amazing before the year is out and I can then have a lovely New Year with my family.”

While Joshua has a strong preference to fight at the Principality Stadium in the Welsh capital - where he beat Carlos Takam and Joseph Parker in past bouts - he insisted winning the rematch is far more important than where it happens.

“I would fight in Tijuana and Ruiz’s uncle could be the referee and I’ll still whoop him. It doesn’t matter to me where it is, so there’s that aspect," Joshua said. "But there’s the other aspect of the British fans who have been riding with me since Day 1 and want to see me get those belts back.

"So walking out in Cardiff in front of 70-,80-,90-thousand people screaming and rooting for me to win, that type of energy that goes through your body is unstoppable and that can give me that little edge I need to win those belts.”

Given the manner of Joshua's defeat - after knocking down Ruiz first, he was knocked down four times before the referee waved off the fight - many people within boxing have urged Joshua to take an easier tune-up fight before the rematch in order to get his confidence back and work on some technical issues.

Joshua, however, has made it clear that the rematch with Ruiz is the only logical next step in his career.

“Anyone who tells me different isn’t a true warrior. Who would my warm-up fight be? [Oleksandar] Usyk? Dillian Whyte? Luiz Ortiz? These are world level fighters and I’ve got the chance to fight for the heavyweight championship right in front of me," he said.

"I don’t fight B-level heavyweights, I’m fighting the best in the world, so I’m going straight for those titles, and that’s the guy I want, Ruiz, he’s got what I want, the titles, so let’s get it on.”

Updated: August 6, 2019 08:38 PM

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