Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 26 January 2020

Clash on the Dunes: Anthony Joshua weighs in three stone lighter than champion Andy Ruiz Jr for Saudi rematch

British challenger promises: ‘I’ll definitely be beating him to the punch’

Mexican-American heavyweight boxing champion Andy Ruiz Jr (L) and British heavyweight boxing challenger Anthony Joshua pose during the official weigh-in at Diriyah in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on December 6, 2019, ahead of the upcoming "Clash on the Dunes".  AFP / Giuseppe CACACE
Mexican-American heavyweight boxing champion Andy Ruiz Jr (L) and British heavyweight boxing challenger Anthony Joshua pose during the official weigh-in at Diriyah in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on December 6, 2019, ahead of the upcoming "Clash on the Dunes".  AFP / Giuseppe CACACE

Anthony Joshua has weighed in at the lightest he ever has for a world title fight as the former champion seeks to win back his WBA, IBF and WBO belts when he meets Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

The Brit boxer, who suffered the only defeat of his career in losing to the Mexican-American in June, tipped the scales at Friday’s weigh-in in Riyadh at 107.5 kilograms. It makes Joshua 4.5kg lighter than when the pair clashed at Madison Square Garden in New York six months ago.

Ruiz, meanwhile, came in almost 7kg heavier than the first encounter, at 128.7kg. It means he weighs three stone more than his rival ahead of the historic night in the Kingdom.

The last time Joshua, 30, weighed less for a professional fight was October 2014, when he contested the ninth of his 23 pro bouts.

Speaking to Sky Sports on stage immediately following the weigh-in, Joshua played down the considerable weight loss, declaring he was ready to rock at the purpose-built Diriyah Arena, in Diriyah, on Saturday night.

“For sure, I feel good,” said the 2012 Olympic champion, who thus far has 22 wins, with 21 coming by knockout. “The weigh-in is important, but as heavyweights it doesn’t really matter. It’s just about ‘skills pay the bills’.

"And that leads to victory, really. So not so much about the weight. But I am what I am. And I feel good.”

Asked if he was surprised that Ruiz came in three stone heavier, Joshua said: "Not really. He’s a big lad. They should make a super-heavyweight division, because it is that much of a vast difference.

"But the art of the game is to hit and not get hit, and avoid them punches. Imagine being three stone heavier and everyone saying how fast he is? I’ll definitely be beating him to the punch tomorrow night.”

Billed the “Clash on the Dunes”, it marks the first time Saudi Arabia has hosted a boxing event of such magnitude. Despite being the challenger, Joshua goes into the fight as favourite, and was clearly the darling on the fans who greeted him at the weigh-in just outside the Faisaliah Hotel in central Riyadh.

Ruiz, whose record stands at 33-1-0 (22 KO), arrived on stage sporting a sombrero and trailed by members of his family waving a giant Mexican flag. But the champion, also 30, was booed as he took to the scales.

In contrast, Joshua clearly enjoyed the partisan support.

“Within myself, I am confident. But I have to prove it to the world,” he said. “The physical stuff is done; it’s just about the mental now. Aligning my body, aligning my thoughts and using the useful stuff, absorbing the un-useful stuff, realising I don’t need it and getting rid of it.

"And focusing solely on the positives. And that’s the victory, the process. And I’m going to be victorious tomorrow night.”

Updated: December 6, 2019 08:51 PM

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