Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 29 January 2020

Clash on the Dunes: Anthony Joshua would 'love' to fight Deontay Wilder after reclaiming world titles in Saudi Arabia

British fighter won back the WBA, IBF and WBO with a comprehensive points win over Andy Ruiz Jr

Anthony Joshua would “love” the opportunity to unify his world heavyweight belts in a clash with Deontay Wilder, but insists he will not rush into any fight having seen off Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

The Brit boxer, 30, reclaimed the WBA, IBF and WBO titles he lost to the Mexican-American on June 1, coming through the rematch at the Diriyah Arena to the north-west of Riyadh to win comfortably on a unanimous decision.

Joshua put together a cool and calculated performance to avenge the only defeat thus far in his professional career, which now stands at 23 victories from 24 bouts.

And, having become a two-time heavyweight champion, thoughts quickly turned to his desire to unify the division. That entails a potential bout with WBC title-holder Wilder, who is scheduled to next meet Tyson Fury in their rematch in February.

Asked if he has sights on a possible unification bout, Joshua said: “Yeah, definitely. I would love to. It’s hard to keep them, to unite them. I’m sure PBC [promoters of both Ruiz and Wilder] were desperately rooting for Andy to win. But we came and put a spanner in the works. We’ll see what happens.

“If I’m chasing it, like in a fight I’m chasing the right hand, I’m chasing the left hook, it may come crashing down. And I realise that chasing a fight wasn’t to my benefit. So I’m just going to let the path take its course.

"I’ve got amazing people around me, a great team, and when the opportunity presents itself to be undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, you know me by now, I’m going to take the challenge.”

However, Wilder said early Sunday that a unification bout "would never happen".

Joshua’s win against Ruiz, under the rain and in front of a capacity 15,000 crowd in Diriyah, was viewed by many as redemption for his shock loss in the summer. Back then, the unbeaten champion was expected to cruise past his opponent - a late replacement for Jarrell Miller - but he was knocked down four times en route to a TKO in the seventh round. It is considered one of the greatest upsets in boxing history.

Yet, having slumped to defeat and having climbed back to the summit, Joshua rejected suggestions it has been a year of lessons and learning.

“What have I learned? Nothing new,” he said. “It’s just what I’m built for. I just like fighting. It’s a shame, because everyone likes me fighting when I’m winning, but hate me when I lost. For me personally, looking at myself in the mirror, I just love fighting.

“I didn’t learn anything new. Before boxing I was a little fighter, I started boxing and I continued to fight. I just learned that I still love the game, that’s all it is.

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Saudi Crown Prince, Khabib and Canelo watch Joshua reclaim titles

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“It’s a really difficult job; I love to get in there and smack a man and lay him out. But these guys are really skilled athletes. I just love preparing for a good challenge. I just love fighting and this is all I have, this is all I got. So I just really disciplined myself for it.”

Joshua had kinds words for Ruiz, who conceded after the bout that he had not properly trained and left himself overweight - he came into the bout at 129 kilograms, more than 20kg heavier than Joshua. Ruiz admitted on Saturday that it had been a by-product of his initial success six months ago.

Nevertheless, Joshua paid respect to the only man to have vanquished him, saying: "Belief is important and he believes in himself. He’s very humble outside of the ring, and most people who are humble outside the ring are definitely a threat inside the ring. Because they need to fake a character or to force an ego to prove they’re something they’re not.

“But he can definitely fight, he has his countrymen behind him, which gives you a different kind of energy. And he has his father beside him. He’s done a great job to keep him on the right tracks since he was six years old. So these are the things that make Andy Ruiz different.”

As to what Joshua said to Ruiz immediately following the decision, he said: “I just told him to never give up. He’s tough. ‘You’re a great man first of all and a great champion as well. Keep chasing your dream'.

“Boxing is really tough. He’s created his own dream, he’s created his own legacy. I created mine tonight. And I’m glad we could both play a part in each other’s legacies.”

Updated: December 8, 2019 05:34 PM

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