The tale of the tape takes on an extra dimension before the most anticipated boxing match of the year.
Anthony Joshua said he’s been training for six months nonstop, preparing in the longest camp of his life to avenge the most humiliating moment of his career. He wants to regain the four versions of the heavyweight title that he lost to Andy Ruiz in June and prove the catastrophic night was a one off.
Joshua’s svelte stature, and the scale, translated his hard work, one day before his rematch Saturday in Saudi Arabia as the British-born heavyweight boxer (22-1, 21KOs) weighed in at 237.8 pounds. It was about 10 pounds less than his previous weight when replacement opponent Ruiz pulled off the stunner of the century with an improbable, come-from-behind seventh-round knockout.
Ruiz, a portly pugilist, concluded his six-month victory lap in Diriyah and didn’t even bother disrobing as the “Rocky” theme song blared in the background.
The first Mexican American heavyweight champion was draped in a sombrero, jeans, shirt and shoes. He stepped on the scales, flexed both arms and proudly showed the rumors of his Jenny Craig lifestyle were greatly exaggerated as he weighed in at a hefty 283.7 pounds. He weighed 268 the day his life changed forever.
Ruiz, the WBO, IBF, WBA and IBO champion of the world, once weighed in higher, at 292.5 pounds in 2009 for his second pro fight.
Come Saturday at 12:45 p.m. PST on DAZN, Ruiz will look to prove that bigger is definitely better.
“It’s been a long three months of camp. I’ve been training really hard for this fight,” Ruiz said. “We are enjoying life, we are enjoying what comes with this.”
Ruiz had plenty on his plate this summer, which had many questioning his dedication to conditioning. Now, Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) will attempt to write a new ending to his own Buster Douglas moment.
Douglas, who pulled off the previous heavyweight shocker nearly 30 years ago against Mike Tyson, also gained 15 pounds immediately after beating Tyson, lost his next fight in three rounds to Evander Holyfield and never was the same.
Ruiz looked slimmer at times this fall thanks to a recommitment to training. He had a steady diet of salmon and split camp between Mexico’s high-altitude and Legendz Boxing gym in Norwalk. Eventually he pivoted from the weight-loss plan, saying he feels stronger and more confident at a heavier weight.
Before heading to Saudi Arabia, Ruiz documented his last day in the U.S. on a cannabis-centered brand’s YouTube channel with a curious case of the munchies, noshing on pasta, chicken wings and pastrami pizza at a sports bar in Downey.
In one instance, he looked into the camera and devilishly said, “Don’t tell my coach” before a bite. When he arrived in Saudi Arabia, a full Thanksgiving spread awaited him in his hotel room.
“The goal is for him to feel comfortable wherever he’s at his best, and feels strongest and fastest,” trainer Manny Robles said. “That’s key. It’s not so much hitting a specific weight.”
Robles said Ruiz will never be a body beautiful. But, through thick and thin, one immeasurable that can’t be questioned is his heart. The underdog Ruiz immediately rose from the canvas in the third round against Joshua to twice knock down his counterpart. He dropped him twice more for good measure before the fight was waved off.
“You can’t teach drive and determination,” Robles said. “You can come in shape for a fight, prepared, end up looking like Anthony Joshua with a big, massive and chiseled body and look impressive, but at the end, it’s about heart.”
The broken Joshua said he’s as focused as ever, especially since he prepared the entire time with one goal, and opponent, in mind.
“Every fighter should stay in the gym, no matter how busy they are,” Joshua said. “I’ve brought the simplicity back to the sport, and just trained. … I’m focused. I’m ready. I’m relaxed. That’s the main thing, I’m under no pressure. … I’m ready to go straight back into the deep end and fight again. I just want my hand raised in the end. That’s the most important thing.”
Flab on his abs or not, Ruiz — who is an underdog again — has the skills and hand speed to beat Joshua.
“Everyone has something to say,” Robles said. “We won, and we still had people doubting and criticizing him for the way he looks, and being chubby. It’s like being bullied and pointed at. It’s a shame, and it’s sad.”
Source: Manouk Akopyan