Andy Ruiz Jr claimed weighing in 15 pounds heavier for this week's rematch against Anthony Joshua was "a psychological thing".

Ruiz stunned Joshua in June to hand the Briton his first professional defeat and claim the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles.

But rather than come in at the same weight again for Saturday's second fight in Saudi Arabia, the champion has seemingly bulked up.

Ruiz tipped the scales at 20st 3lbs, 15 pounds more than in the previous bout and over three stone more than opponent Joshua.

The Mexican acknowledged the time of the day contributed to his weight, yet he later added it was an intentional ploy.

Ruiz had remained dressed and wore a sombrero, seemingly aiming to contribute to his weight.

"I was already the same weight as the last fight this morning," he told DAZN. "I had to wait until almost 5pm to get on the scale, so I already had my breakfast, lunch and dinner.

"I also weighed in with my sombrero and pants on, so that's why I came in so heavy. It was a psychological thing as well."

Joshua is the lightest he has ever been for a world-title fight, and Ruiz added: "It could be good or not. We don't know if he's still going to have that same pop in his punches.

"It could be a disadvantage, which is why I decided to come in a little heavier in this fight. I can move him around, be a little bit stronger and have more pop in my punches."

Dillian Whyte has succeeded in a mission to clear his name after UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) dropped a doping charge against the British heavyweight.

Whyte beat Oscar Rivas on points in July but was later provisionally stripped of his WBC interim title and status as mandatory challenger to champion Deontay Wilder by the sanctioning body.

That came after it was reported the 31-year-old had tested positive for a banned substance before the bout, in a test administered by UKAD.

However, Whyte was later added to the undercard for Anthony Joshua's rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia this week, facing Mariusz Wach.

Ahead of Saturday's fight, UKAD announced the charge against Whyte had been withdrawn and the Briton had been cleared of any wrongdoing.

Whyte wrote on Twitter: "For those who believed in me, I won't forget you. To those who didn't, I won't forgive you and I know who you are."

UKAD said a urine sample provided by Whyte on June 20 indicated the presence of two metabolites of a steroid, and the fighter "cooperated fully" with an investigation.

The anti-doping body added it would not normally reveal details of an investigation but the public reports of Whyte's charge meant it would do so on this occasion.

UKAD said the levels of the metabolites found in Whyte's sample were "extremely low".

Tests either side of the sample in question returned negative results, and UKAD was satisfied the June 20 sample "was not caused by any fault, negligence or wrongdoing on Mr Whyte's part".

It said: "Given the circumstances, [it] could not have affected the fight between Mr Whyte and Mr Rivas on July 20, 2019."

Whyte provided further evidence that led to the withdrawal of the charge, although he acknowledged in Friday's statement - released jointly by the fighter and the anti-doping agency - that UKAD "acted in accordance with the UK Anti-Doping rules by issuing the initial charge and in the conduct of its investigation".

The British Boxing Board of Control has been informed of the resolution, the statement said.

Eddie Hearn is backing Anthony Joshua to knock out Andy Ruiz Jr and is not concerned by the champion's increased weight for Saturday's heavyweight title fight.

Joshua is aiming to reclaim the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles in Saudi Arabia when he goes up against the fighter who handed him his first defeat as a pro back in June.

The Briton weighed in more than three stone lighter than Ruiz, who is 15 pounds heavier than in the first fight at 20st 3lbs.

Hearn did not believe Ruiz had intentionally gained weight, telling Boxing Social: "He probably ate too much on his break [after the first fight], honestly. It definitely wouldn't be a tactic."

But Joshua's promoter does not believe the change will have any major impact on the bout, where he claims his fighter is "the key" man.

"[Joshua] has probably been lighter in his camp, to be honest with you - more resting up and eating a little bit more," Hearn said. "He's built for speed, built for power, for punching faster and sharper than ever before.

"With Andy Ruiz, I don't think it really matters. What is he, 10 pounds heavier, 11 pounds heavier, a stone, yeah?

"Last fight, [Ruiz] had done a full camp and he got straight back to the gym and then he had five or six weeks. This time, he had three months off, so he's probably playing catch-up the whole time.

"Honestly, I don't think it matters in the fight in the slightest for Andy. AJ is the key to this fight.

"If he does what he should do, if he does what he can do, I believe he wins this fight by knockout."

Backing Joshua, Hearn added: "Of course, you've got to use your attributes. He ain't going to box off the back foot and run around the ring.

"I think he's got to be more aggressive, if anything. Last time, he was too passive, with his hands down, going backwards. He's got to use his size and dominate him with the jab, make Ruiz go backwards.

"He's got to bust him up. I believe he's going to knock him out, I really do."

Anthony Joshua weighed in under 17 stone for the first time in more than five years ahead of his eagerly anticipated rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr.

Joshua will be aiming to reclaim the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles on Saturday when he goes up against the fighter who handed him his first defeat as a pro back in June.

Ruiz was a late replacement for Jarrell Miller in New York but stunned the boxing world by stopping the Briton, who was knocked down four times before the bout was stopped in the seventh round.

The former champion - who kept on a set of headphones throughout Friday's weigh-in - has opted to come in lighter for their second meeting, registering 16 stones and 13 pounds on the scales.

It marked his lowest weight since defeating Denis Bakhtov in October 2014; he has not been lighter for a world-title fight in his career.

His opponent, in contrast, tipped the scales at 20st 3lbs, the sombrero-wearing Ruiz 15 pounds heavier than he was earlier this year.

"The weigh-in is important, but as heavyweights it doesn't really matter. Skills pay the bills," Joshua told Sky Sports. "I am what I am – and I feel good."

Asked if he was surprised at Ruiz being over three stone heavier, he added: "Not really, he's a big lad. They could make a super-heavyweight division, it is that much of a vast difference.

"But the art of the game is to hit and not get hit, avoid those punches."

Anthony Joshua says he "would be bothered" if his rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr was used to distract people from Saudi Arabia's human rights record.

Saturday's fight is being staged near the Saudi capital of Riyadh in a decision which has attracted controversy.

Briton Joshua has been encouraged to take a stand but, while he acknowledged some discomfort, his immediate focus is on reclaiming his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles.

"In the future maybe I can bear a different kind of flag," he told BBC Sport. 

"But at the minute it's a world championship flag. I just want to do a job."

When asked how he would respond if the bout was used to 'sportswash' any improper conduct from the host country, he added: "If that was the case, I would definitely have to say I would be bothered - but my only focus is the boxing.

"I feel like taking boxing global is what a world champion should be doing. You fight around the world."

Joshua was stunned by Ruiz, a late replacement for Jarrell Miller, at Madison Square Garden in the initial fight that saw him knocked down four times.

Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua's rematch in Saudi Arabia takes place at the end of a year in the heavyweight division that has not taken off quite as anticipated.

Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury fought to a gripping majority draw in Los Angeles 12 months ago and both remain undefeated with their eagerly anticipated return slated for next February.

WBC champion Wilder has since knocked out Dominic Breazeale and Luis Ortiz, while Fury beat Tom Schwarz and Otto Wallin before trying his hand at WWE.

It was hoped Joshua versus either man would be on the agenda, but Fury's fellow Briton stunningly lost the IBF, WBA and WBO belts inside seven rounds to the unfancied Ruiz in June.

The second edition of that unlikely rivalry should help make the picture of what lies in store in 2020 a little clearer, while a high-calibre list of potential challengers lends weight to the feeling boxing's blue riband division could be in the midst of a new golden era.

THE ELITE

There remains a reluctance to place Ruiz in this bracket, as he and trainer Manny Robles have noted during this week's build-up, but Mexico's first ever heavyweight champion is the man who beat the man.

Ruiz might be a long way from the body-beautiful Adonis many casual fans would expect to see atop the heavyweight landscape, but the rotund puncher's unlikely hand speed and intelligent tactics saw him eviscerate Joshua and his undefeated record.

A late replacement for drugs cheat Jarrell Miller, the underdog floored Joshua four times and hurt him repeatedly to the body. This was not simply the result of a "punch from the gods", as Joshua dubbed the short left hook to the temple that robbed him of his equilibrium as he moved in to finish a hurt Ruiz in round three.

There was much mirth to be had on the part of Wilder and Fury, who are widely considered numbers one and two in the division, despite Ruiz's recently acquired hardware.

Wilder obliterated fellow American Breazeale inside a round in May – a spectacle that perhaps inspired Joshua's foolhardy endeavour to match him with an explosive finish against Ruiz – before arguably losing every completed round in his second encounter with Ortiz.

The problem for the Cuban veteran was the thundering right hand that left him befuddled on the canvas and for the count in the seventh.

Fury managed to rouse himself twice having similarly outboxed Wilder last year. The 34-year-old's technical deficiencies are not the cause for concern they should be because of his unfathomable, fight-altering power.

Joshua is rarely in anything other than entertaining bouts but whether or not he can continue to operate at the very highest level hinges upon victory at the weekend. If Ruiz wins again before the Wilder-Fury return, he will be on the outside looking in and without some of the mystique attached to the men below.

THE CONTENDERS

Dillian Whyte is on a 10-fight winning streak since losing to Joshua four years ago, getting off the floor to outpoint the dangerous Oscar Rivas in July.

However, the fact he was cleared to fight Rivas after returning an anomalous drugs test led to the WBC stripping him of his mandatory status to face Wilder. The governing body will not consider him for the position again until February 2021.

Whyte returns to action against former world-title challenger Mariusz Wach on the Ruiz-Joshua II undercard, where Alexander Povetkin takes on Michael Hunter in an intriguing crossroads fight.

Povetkin's only defeats have come against Wladimir Klitschko and Joshua, but the 40-year-old's advancing age means victory is a must against Hunter, who made it six out six wins since stepping up from cruiserweight by beating another Russian in Sergey Kuzmin last time out.

Hunter's only professional loss came at the irresistibly skilled hands of Oleksandr Usyk, the former undisputed champion at 200lbs. Already number one at heavyweight by the WBO, the lavishly gifted Ukrainian seems certain to become a major factor among the big men.

Joseph Parker is, for now, the only man to beat Ruiz, but losses to Joshua and Whyte checked the popular New Zealander. Restorative stoppage wins over Alexander Flores and Alex Leapai leave the former WBO king primed for another tilt at the top in 2020.

THE NEXT GENERATION

Whether or not this comes to be viewed as a golden generation globally, the evidence in that regard for the British heavyweight scene is starting to look irrefutable.

Behind Fury, Joshua and Whyte, Daniel Dubois' destructive power has cut a swathe through the domestic scene, with 12 of the 22-year-old's 13 wins coming inside the distance.

Rio 2016 silver medallist Joe Joyce does not have time on his side to the same extent as countryman Dubois – a showdown between the two feels inevitable – but the 34-year-old is 10-0 having mixed with higher-calibre opposition.

Tony Yoka pipped Joyce to Olympic gold and is 7-0, although a one-year suspension from the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) for three missing three tests means he is playing catch-up having placed himself under the cloud that continues to darken the sport.

Filip Hrgovic will take his place on a stacked heavyweight bill in Saudi Arabia and is expected to defeat Eric Molina. A week in the spotlight has allowed the Croatian former amateur standout to talk up his chances of success against Wilder and Joshua, both of whom count Molina among their scalps.

Anthony Joshua has been given pointers by old foe Wladimir Klitschko as he looks to regain the unified world heavyweight title against Andy Ruiz Jr.

The previously undefeated Joshua was stunningly floored four times as he ceded the IBF, WBA and WBO belts to Ruiz inside seven rounds at New York's Madison Square Garden in June.

Where his thrilling 2017 win over former long-reigning heavyweight king Klitschko in front of 90,000 people at Wembley represented a career high, his upset loss was a punishing low.

The former foes are now friends and Klitschko has urged Joshua to avoid distractions after undertaking a more-boxing focused training camp for Saturday's rematch in Saudi Arabia.

"Klitschko is a G. He doesn't get enough credit, I think, for everything he's achieved and done," the 30-year-old Briton told his fighter meeting in Diriyah.

"When I fought him, he called me a cross-fit champion. I thought, 'Who's this geezer talking to?'.

"But he just knew that when it came to boxing he was more conditioned because he spent a lot more time in the ring. So we spent a lot more time in the ring this time, understanding ring generalship and the science of boxing.

"He told me to stay off my phone this week, don't listen to too much outside influences because your own belief is what's important this week; not what someone's trying to tell you from the outside."

The result of Joshua leaving the weights room behind is a leaner-looking fighter, who believes he could weigh in below 17 stone for the first time since 2014.

This does not mean he plans to box exclusively on the back foot to avoid Ruiz's blurring fists.

"For me, take centre ring," he replied when asked what the best tactics would be.

"If I'm six inches in front of Ruiz… all it takes for a man to miss a punch is six inches, so sometimes you haven't got to be running around the ring."

Indeed, Joshua mischievously suggested Ruiz would like him to box and move after a brief conversation at Wednesday's news conference.

"I asked him upstairs, 'How do I beat you then?'," he chuckled. "Man, you should move around a little…'.

"I'm 6ft 6, so it would be wrong for me to sit in front of Ruiz and go toe-to-toe hooking.

"I have to box on my attributes, which is range and movement. My boxing style is not what a scared fighter does, it's what a smart fighter would do.

"I'm going to be the smarter fighter on the night. We have to engage to win but I'm going to engage to my benefit."

Another piece of Klitschko advice was for Joshua to take an active role in the direction of his training under Rob McCracken and fighter and trainer are certainly speaking in unison.

"You can't jab and move against Ruiz. It's for the birds," said McCracken – Carl Froch's former cornerman, who has welcomed assistants Angel Fernandez and Joby Clayton into Joshua's camp this time around.

"He's going to come over the top at some point, close the gap and hit you with a right hand to the body.

"You've got to control him. You can't control yourself and him. He's going to pressure you too much.

"If you can move two inches, why move 10 inches? It doesn't make any sense."

Nathan Ferrari and Dudley O'Shaughnessy will comprise a two-member boxing team from St Lucia set to contest the 2019 Caribbean Boxing Championships, which begins on Monday, December 9, in Trinidad and Tobago.

Anthony Joshua has revealed he could weigh under 17 stone after shedding the pounds for his fight against Andy Ruiz Jr on Saturday.

The former WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight champion will look to win back the belts he lost in stunning fashion against Ruiz earlier this year when the pair do battle in Saudi Arabia.

Joshua weighed 17st 9lbs for the June fight in New York, where he was knocked down on four occasions before suffering his first career defeat in a result that shocked boxing.

The Briton will come in dramatically lighter for the rematch after a training camp inspired by the methods of Muhammad Ali, though he insists his punching power has actually improved.

Joshua (22-1) has not weighed in at under 17st for a fight since 2014.

"I may be less than 17 stone," the 30-year-old said to BBC Sport. "I'm punching loose and heavy - rhythm and flow. 

"Before I was trying to bench press a house. I used my body to get where I needed but then I started realising the sweet science of the sport. I am punching like a horse kicking backwards right now.

"When Muhammad Ali was training, he said he would build a shack to train in. There are clues to success and you have to go back to what it takes to be a great heavyweight champion. 

"We had to bring in hard, rough sparring partners. I brought in the toughest and roughest."

But Ruiz (33-1) engaged in mind games by turning up to Wednesday's press conference in a New York Knicks jersey and insisted he has no concerns over Joshua's power, despite being knocked down himself in the third round of their first fight.

"Not really," Ruiz, also 30, said of the threat of AJ's power. "I was the one who had the strength, the one backing him up. When I jabbed, I pushed him away.

"I know he lost weight and that he will try and box me around, so it's my job to prevent that.

"I have been doing this since I was six and it is finally paying off. There is no way I am going to let these belts go, I will die trying. It has been a rollercoaster and now that I made the dreams come true there is no way I will let these go."

The development with Joshua's weight drop has led Hasim Rahman, the former world champion who stunned Lennox Lewis before losing a rematch in 2001, to back Ruiz for victory.

"I am leaning at the moment to Ruiz by knockout," he said. 

"I just think Joshua has lost weight. I didn't see him with much fat to lose. I feel he may have lost muscle and that can be detrimental.

"He could win a decision if he executes perfectly and uses his distance. But if Andy hits him, Andy will finish him."

When Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua clash in their rematch for the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles, the tactical battle should prove to be intriguing.

Ruiz shocked the world when he decked Joshua four times on the way to a huge upset win in New York in June.

The Briton will be out to prove that setback was just a bump in the road and bring his superior physical attributes to bear, while Ruiz will aim to show that stunning result was no fluke.

The men calling the shots from the corners will have had their plans in place for some time now. But will Joshua's coach Rob McCracken or Ruiz's cornerman Manny Robles be celebrating?

Here, we look at the two steadying influences behind the big men.

ROB McCRACKEN

Record

A former British light-middleweight champion and middleweight world-title challenger, McCracken rose to global prominence as Carl Froch's trainer – a calm and astute voice in the corner as 'The Cobra' enjoyed a thrilling run at the top of the 168lb division. He also oversaw Great Britain's amateur squad in the build-up to a triumphant 2012 Olympic Games, bringing him into contact with Joshua, the gold medallist he guided to world honours in 16 professional fights.

Career highlight

When London 2012 arrived on the heels of Froch's underdog shellacking of Lucian Bute, there was a strong case to be made that McCracken was the finest British coach operating across any sport at that time. Three-time world champion Froch enjoyed many memorable nights, but his dismantling of feared southpaw Bute at a fervent Nottingham Arena marked a thrilling high for both boxer and trainer.

Career low

The ever-laconic McCracken appears to have taken most of the noise in his stride since Joshua's world came crashing down. Nevertheless, luminaries such as Lennox Lewis openly questioned his credentials, while McCracken's subsequently retracted claim that he let his fighter box on while "concussed" drew widespread criticism. Joshua insists he never considered parting company with his head trainer but has brought additional help into his camp, adding Angel Fernandez and Joby Clayton to the team.

What he said

"I think my reputation should speak for itself and my first concern is always for the fighters. That should never be questioned," McCracken told reporters this week, before expressing unexpected solidarity with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. "At this level, you're going to take stick. It comes with the territory and I've got a thick skin. The Manchester United manager is going to take stick if they lose and this is the equivalent in boxing."

What they said

"I feel like where we come from, loyalty means everything," Joshua told BBC Sport when discussing his coach's position. "I'm not perfect, Rob's not perfect but we're definitely trying. If I have the attitude to change Rob, then I might as well have the attitude to stop boxing after I've lost."

MANNY ROBLES

Record

Robles followed in his father's footsteps by stepping into a boxing gym and picking up the pads. Like McCracken, he honed his pedigree among elite amateurs, coaching the United States’ national team. In 2016, he led Oscar Valdez and Jessie Magdaleno to world titles on the same bill in Las Vegas – serving notice of a burgeoning world-class stable.

Career highlight

Allowing for his previous successes, masterminding one of the biggest world-title shocks in the history of the sport stands alone. Ruiz did not simply beat Joshua because of the discombobulating "punch from the gods" in round three, but systematically took a befuddled champion apart – bringing intelligent footwork and under-rated hand speed to bear, while also attacking clinically to the body.

Career low

Ruiz's toppling of Joshua chimed so satisfyingly because of what came before. Valdez, Magdaleno, Dominic Breazeale and Michael Conlan all left his stable in relatively quick succession for differing reasons. Former WBO featherweight king Valdez remains undefeated, with Robles saying their split was down to the fighter's manager, Frank Espinoza.

What he said

"Andy's the world champion, so we have to make sure he stays disciplined and grounded. My job is to keep him in line and remind him what got him here," Robles told the Guardian after he and his pupil enjoyed their night of all nights. "I know Andy will listen. We've been through too much to give it all up."

What they said

"Manny, you’ve been by my side since day one," Ruiz told Robles at a recent workout, as reported by The Athletic. "Only you understand where I am and what I've been going through."

Anthony Joshua insists there is no fear in his heart, eyes or mind but says it will not rank as a "special moment" if he can reclaim his heavyweight titles from Andy Ruiz Jr.

The Briton is out to reclaim the IBF, WBA and WBO straps he shockingly lost to Ruiz in New York in June, with Joshua falling to a seventh-round stoppage.

'AJ' has his chance at redemption in Saudi Arabia on Saturday and the 30-year-old insists the experience he has gained throughout his career will stand him in good stead.

"It's interesting this side of the table," Joshua told a news conference. "In my 16th fight I challenged [for a world title], then I challenged again with [Wladimir] Klitschko, then with [Joseph] Parker. So, this is my fourth time challenging.

"I've been boxing for a while now and when I came into boxing I didn't come to take part, I came to take over, with full force, fully committed.

"The focus was always there but I have had a chance to reflect. Olympics, British title, world title, boom, boom boom.

"Looking at the board, I've fought [Eric] Molina, [Alexander] Povetkin, [Dillian] Whyte, [Magomedrasul] Majidov and sparred with [Tom] Little and [Mariusz] Wach.

"I've been around the block in this game in a short space of time, I'm experienced.

"I didn't lose heart or fire in my belly. There is no fear in my heart, my eyes or my mind. I want to put on a show, I'm confident."

Regaining the belts is the target, but Joshua said: "I was asked, 'Would this be a special moment?'. I said no, because I belong there, it's not special.

"When I regain the belts I'll remain cool, remain focused. It's not a time to celebrate. I will keep cool and keep a challenger's mindset and move on to the next target."

Champion Ruiz acknowledges a refocused and energised Joshua poses a different threat this time around, but he has no intention of letting the belts go.

"AJ will come with a different game-plan and I know he is prepared, so I will be more cautious," Ruiz said.

"He lost weight and will try to box me around. I don't want to let these beautiful belts go.

"Now that I finally made my dreams come true, there is no way I will let them go."

David Haye does not believe Anthony Joshua was fully "switched on" when he suffered his stunning defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr in June - but has backed the former champion to change that in Saturday's rematch.

Joshua and Ruiz will do battle for the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles in Saudi Arabia after the Briton suffered his first defeat at Madison Square Garden in their previous meeting.

Conspiracy theories raged after the fight about why Joshua had underperformed and whether he had gone into the fight fully fit.

Former WBA heavyweight champion Haye has offered his best guess on what went wrong and thinks a different Joshua will be on show for the second bout.

"No fighter is ever 100 per cent going into a fight, you always have niggles," Haye said to the Mirror.

"When you're sparring - physically fighting - a week before you’re always going to get strains and aches, torn muscles, issues with tendons and ligaments.

"You just have to get into the ring as close to 100 per cent as you can. From the outside, it didn’t seem that Joshua was switched on 100 per cent - but that's an uneducated guess.

"I don't know that; I'm guessing because his performance wasn't that of someone who was 100 per cent, or as close to 100 per cent, as he usually is.

"But I believe he will be switched on significantly more on Saturday night compared to how he was in Madison Square Garden."

Haye feels Joshua tried to finish the fight too early having dropped him in the third round before going down a total of four times himself in a defeat that shocked the boxing world.

"What he was surprised about was when Ruiz went down heavily and Joshua went in for the kill, but he hadn't cooked him enough," added Haye.

"He hadn't broken him down before he put on the final onslaught that should have closed the show.

"Then he walked on to a mighty left hook which changed the direction of the fight."

Anthony Joshua believes he will meet Andy Ruiz Jr for a third time, with the Briton confident he can avenge his stunning June defeat in Saturday's rematch.

Joshua lost his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles when he was shocked by Ruiz - a late replacement for Jarrell Miller - at Madison Square Garden in a fight that saw him knocked down four times.

He will attempt to win back those belts in Saudi Arabia this weekend but expects to have to deal with the considerable test of the Mexican-American once more before his career is over.

Speaking after an open workout in Riyadh, Joshua told Sky Sports: "He's going to be on my mind forever because all of these boys, we're all going to fight anyway. Me and Andy Ruiz, if he's dedicated to the game, we'll definitely see each other a third time down the line.

"This ain't going to be the last time I see Andy Ruiz in the ring. I think we make for good fights, I think there's definitely going to be a knockout in that fight as well and I think that's what the people want to see - bloodshed and knockouts. I think we'll definitely see each other a third time."

Joshua was unable to deal with the speed of Ruiz's hands in his seventh-round loss in New York but has not been strictly focusing on his own quickness in preparation for the rematch.

"I'm confident and I believe in myself that I'm going to be victorious," said Joshua.

"I'm quick anyway, I'm not really looking for anything except for the win. It's not about speed, it's not about nothing else, the objective is just to win, win, win."

Six months have passed since Andy Ruiz Jr sent seismic shockwaves through the world of boxing to dethrone heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.

The 11-1 underdog, a late replacement for Jarrell Miller, rose from the canvas to send 'AJ' to the floor and score a seventh-round knockout.

Joshua seeks to gain revenge in Riyadh on Saturday and reclaim the IBF, WBA and WBO belts he relinquished to the Mexican at Madison Square Garden on that fateful June evening.

But with the Briton's aura and reputation left in tatters in New York, can Joshua make amends for the first blot on a previously unblemished record? Or will Ruiz reign supreme once again.

Below, two Omnisport writers go head-to-head to discuss what will happen in Saudi Arabia.


All the greats had blips, Joshua will be hungrier now – Liam Blackburn

Muhammad Ali, Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson, Wladimir Klitschko. Great heavyweight champions who all had to suffer the ignominy of a shock loss to an underdog. All four came back and won a world title again. 

Joshua insisted he did not underestimate Ruiz back in June but with unrelenting chatter about Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, was his eye really on the immediate danger? Would he really have handed his belts to his replacement opponent for a photo opportunity at a pre-fight face-off had he genuinely thought he might lose?

The golden boy of British boxing has had six months to stew over that night at Madison Square Garden, half a year to meticulously prepare for an opponent who was previously parachuted in at the last moment and almost 200 days of listening to the doubters saying he is just a hyped-up fraud.

Such chatter can only sharpen Joshua's mind. This time, there are no questions about Wilder, Fury and what's next; only a focus on righting a perceived wrong. As Ali, Lewis, Tyson and Klitschko did, a hungrier Joshua will approach this fight with a completely different mindset. In the long run, the loss to Ruiz may prove a blessing in disguise for a fighter too big and too good not to reclaim his titles.


It was an upset waiting to happen, Ruiz will keep the belts – Peter Hanson

To say I predicted Ruiz would beat AJ in their first bout would be a lie so big it would make Pinocchio's nose grow to epic new lengths. But that's not to say there wasn't an upset waiting to happen.

Questions had long since been asked about Joshua's chin. As long ago as 2015, before he even had a world title on his arm, AJ had been wobbled by a stinger from domestic rival Dillian Whyte.

Some 18 months later, he was floored for the first time by Klitschko – though he valiantly rose off the canvas to score a fine win in a classic. An unconvincing win against Carlos Takam followed, while there were problems early doors against Alexander Povetkin.

Whatever the cause for his defeat to Ruiz the first time round (was he concussed? Was it nerves? Was he merely outclassed?) there can be no doubting that the aura and air of invincibility he previously carried has gone. It is a big ask to regain it and chase the big fights with Wilder and Fury he once looked certain to face.

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