Ruiz Jr (20st 3lbs) – Joshua (16st 13lbs)
Anthony Joshua flexed his leaner physique at the pre-fight weigh-in and then signalled his desire for redemption in his rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr.
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Britain’s heavyweight star displayed a smaller frame for Saturday’s world title fight with Ruiz Jr, live on Sky Sports Box Office, and seemed to relish his new-found role as challenger, orchestrating the loud calls for revenge from his travelling support in Saudi Arabia.
A parade of current rivals and former opponents had already stepped on the scales by the time Team Joshua was asked to take centre stage, and old foe Dillian Whyte was joined by Derek Chisora, decked out in a Union Jack bandana in an unlikely gathering of British support.
Joshua’s name was gradually chorused louder by the crowd before he emerged from a sea of cameras and then marched up the steps, only to be stopped in his tracks. As a dominant champion, Joshua had previously followed his own path, but now he had to wait a little longer for Ruiz Jr, the new reigning king.
2:23 Joshua reacts to being three stone lighter than Ruiz Jr
Ever since that shock defeat in June, Joshua has been biding his time for the chance to complete a satisfying victory over his conqueror. Having paced the grassy turf, he quickly re-entered the stage to remove his t-shirt, seemingly eager to complete this last grandiose formality before he can lay his hands on Ruiz Jr.
A Mexican flag had been waved by fans on a far off balcony at the fight hotel and Ruiz Jr did not disappoint them as he entered with a shiny sombrero. A relaxed figure throughout the week, Ruiz Jr has barely shown the burden of becoming the world’s leading heavyweight. The familiar tune from the Hollywood boxing film ‘Rocky’ blared out to herald his arrival, a fitting soundtrack for his dramatic stoppage win at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Joshua was marching to his own beat, hammering a fist onto his chest in a triumphant gesture after his weight was announced, while Ruiz Jr languidly stepped onto the scales and did not even remove his vest. The Californian has repeated all the well-known soundbites about gruelling training camps and yet weighed even heavier than when he was plucked from a crop of contenders to challenge Joshua. Was his increased weight an indication of Ruiz Jr’s new lavish lifestyle, or just an unwavering confidence that he can topple Joshua, regardless of the pre-fight statistics?
Amidst the mutual respect and smiles through gritted teeth, Joshua has given the occasional glimpse of his cruel intentions and he fixed a steely glare on Ruiz Jr as the cameras focused in. A handshake was eventually offered by Ruiz Jr and briefly received by Joshua, who then turned away and pointed to the heavens. Cries of ‘two time’ filled the air and Joshua raised two fingers, a sign that he fully intends to start his second spell as world champion.
A small gathering had now become a baying crowd and Joshua remained by the stage, long after Ruiz Jr’s exit, soaking in the familiar cries for victory. That chorus of ‘two time’ eventually drifted away as Joshua strolled off among his support, but the final message remained clear. A leaner and meaner Joshua is coming for vengeance.
Watch Ruiz Jr vs Joshua 2 on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Box Office, from 5pm. Book it via your Sky remote or book it online here. Even if you aren’t a Sky TV subscriber you can book and watch it here.