Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 January 2020

Anthony Joshua: 'there’s no fear in my heart, no fear in my eyes, no fear in my mind'

Englishman out to take back WBA, WBO and IBF titles from Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia this weekend

Anthony Joshua insists he feels no fear heading into his potentially career-defining world heavyweight title rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia this weekend.

The Englishman, who rose to fame by winning gold at the London Olympics, suffered the first defeat of a previously unblemished CV in the initial match-up with the Mexican-American in New York on June 1, when Ruiz stunned the sport to register one of the greatest shocks in boxing history.

The Mexican-American knocked down Joshua four times en route to a technical knockout victory in the seventh round, and in doing so took from him the WBA, WBO and IBF world titles.

However, Joshua says he has spent the interim reflecting and resetting, and goes into the second encounter on Saturday, billed the “Clash on the Dunes” at the Diriyah Arena on the outskirts of Riyadh, with sights sets only on winning back his belts.

“I’ve been boxing a while now,” Joshua said in front of a packed press conference on Wednesday. “And when I came into boxing I didn’t come to take part, I came to take over. I came with full force, fully committed.

“The focus has always been there, but I’ve never had a chance to reflect. It was just European Championships, World Championships, Olympics, British title, world title, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. I’m not here to put on a show; I’m here to win.

“I’ve been around the block in this game in a short space of time. I really have to understand that I’m definitely experienced; I know what I’m doing. I just had to use my time very wisely. As soon as I got back from New York, I felt that commitment that I’ve always had. I got straight back in the gym; I didn’t lose any heart; I didn’t lose any fire in my belly. I started punching the heavy bag, preparing for this day.

“There’s no fear in my heart, no fear in my eyes, no fear in my mind. I’m just really looking forward to putting on a show and I’m confident.”

Asked if reclaiming the straps would represent a special moment in his career, Joshua said: “I was asked this [before] and I said no. Because I know I belong there, I know what I’m capable of doing. So when I regain those belts I’m probably just going to keep cool and keep focused.

“Because it’s not a time to celebrate, it’s time to keep that challenger mindset and move onto the next target. One by one I’m picking them off. And Ruiz is just the next target on my list.”

That said, Ruiz has already proved a formidable opponent, and arrives in Saudi fine-tuned, but both mentally and physically. The champion, who like Joshua has a solitary defeat on his pro CV, remains the underdog despite that stellar display earlier this year. Yet he is intent only on continuing trending upwards.

“It’s been a long three months in camp," Ruiz said. "I’ve been training really hard for this moment. Just like on June 1, I made history, and the important thing is to remain making history on September 7 in Saudi Arabia.

"There’s really not much to say, other than I’m ready to rock and roll. I know AJ’s going to come with a different game plan, I know he’s prepared, I know he’s motivated, so that’s what’s gives me the extra edge of being more motivated, more cautious. I’m ready for whatever comes my way.”

On whether he is as hungry as ever given the newfound fame and fortune, Ruiz said: “Of course. I don’t want to let these beautiful belts go. All this hard work and dedication; remember I’ve been doing this since I was six years old and it’s finally paying off.

"There’s no way I’m going to let these belts go. I’m going to die trying and I’m going to do anything that’s possible to get that victory on December 7. As I've said, [may the] best man win. I’m just ready.”

Updated: December 5, 2019 11:46 AM

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