Joshua will be putting his unified heavyweight titles on the line on Saturday night in New York City
Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) will step in the ring on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden to defend his WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles against Andy Ruiz Jr, a replacement opponent who came in on five weeks’ notice when Brooklyn’s Jarrell Miller was popped for three different performance-enhancing drugs in three separate tests shortly after the fight was announced.
“I respect Ruiz for stepping in,” Joshua said. “He saved the show, so I’ve got lot of respect. Even though we’re gonna beat each other up, he’s the one who put his name on the dotted line, so I’ve got to give him his credit. I respect him for that.”
The durable Ruiz is a credible opponent coming off three consecutive victories, including a fifth-round knockout of Alexander Dimitrenko last month, since absorbing his lone career defeat against Joseph Parker in 2016.
But Ruiz’s physical shortcomings that were laid bare when the fighters faced off at Thursday’s final press conference – glaring concessions in height (four inches) and reach (eight) will look even more pronounced on Saturday night when the chiseled Joshua disrobes opposite the roly-poly challenger, who is a 10-1 underdog on merit.
What Ruiz is most known for as a heavyweight is his quick hands and deceiving agility for a fighter who has battled weight issues throughout his career and largely enters as the antithesis of the chiseled and hulking Joshua.
“I’m not gonna lie, everybody speaks about: ‘Oh, I’m fully focused on June first,’” Joshua said. “Well, I am, that’s what I’ve been practicing and preparing for, but you can’t not look at the bigger picture. I’m not looking past him but I definitely put blinkers on to see the potential of, if I beat this guy what’s out there for me to keep me motivated to get in there on Saturday and put on a good performance.”
Ruiz isn’t likely to get past the sixth round considering once he gets hurt by a big punch from Joshua, it will more than likely push him into a brawl that would speed up his exit.
WBC champion Deontay Wilder is the division’s biggest puncher and unbeaten lineal king Tyson Fury is easily the most skilled pure boxer. But Joshua may very well be the most complete of any and should have a chance to make a powerful statement in his U.S. debut.
*Odds are subject to change. Find the latest recommended odds here.