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Anthony Joshua: British boxer prepares to fight Andy Ruiz Jr in rematch | World News

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Anthony Joshua will be looking to regain his heavyweight world title belts and avoid another defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr when the pair go head-to-head on the outskirts of Riyadh tonight.

The pair are preparing for their showdown in Saudi Arabia which takes place six months after the Mexican-American’s shock victory against the British fighter in New York’s Madison Square Garden in June.

Ruiz Jr’s victory is considered one of the greatest upsets of the heavyweight division. It ended Joshua’s unbeaten record – with the Briton’s challenger entering the ring as an 11-1 underdog.

Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr square off at a heavyweight championship match in June
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The boxers previously clashed in New York in June

Joshua, 30, was three stone lighter than his opponent in the weigh-in, but he says that won’t make too much difference ahead of their bout. Ruiz Jr came in at 20 stone 3lbs, more than a stone heavier than the night of their last clash.

Joshua stands to reclaim the WBA Super, IBF and WBO titles if he defeats his opponent, also 30, in the Gulf.

The match will earn the fighters a reported combined purse of over £70m, with Joshua rumoured to be receiving a payday of up to £60m.

Both fighters have visited the Diriyah Arena, the 15,000-seat purpose-built facility that was constructed within two months. It will reportedly be taken down afterwards.

Speaking before the fight, Joshua said: “I learned how to take a loss like a man, and to always be grateful for having a second opportunity to go again… It affected me, but not in a negative way. It will take more than that to knock a man like me back.”

He added: “For me it’s not about the rematch, it’s not about Andy. It’s the opportunity of a title shot.”

Andy Ruiz Jr (L) and Anthony Joshua (R) pose for photos after weighing in
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The fighters pose for photos in Saudi Arabia after the weigh-in

Meanwhile, Ruiz Jr said: “I don’t know if he is going to try to box me around and beat me on points, but I am a good pressure fighter, an attacker, and I am going to be looking for that knockout.

“He has lost weight and we don’t know if he will have that same power. I think he will come in confident, but as Mike Tyson always said, everybody has a plan until they get hit.”

Sky News’ sports correspondent Martha Kelner, who is in Riyadh, said: “People were worried about what the atmosphere would be like for this fight in a county with little to no boxing heritage but they certainly turned out for the weigh in.”

She added: “Until 2018, women couldn’t officially compete in sport here [and] almost all gyms in the capital Riyadh are single sex.”

One woman who Kelner talked to said the sport is surging in popularity, saying: “It’s blooming. The market of boxing is blooming because the more is more of a spotlight on Saudi females these days.”

The country has a poor track record on human rights and Kelner said: “There are accusations of ‘sportswashing’ and using big events like a heavy-weight title fight to burnish its reputation abroad.”

Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr inside the Diriyah Arena
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Joshua and Ruiz Jr inside the Diriyah Arena

In an interview with Joshua, he told Sky News: “I would take my boxing anywhere in the world… I would box quietly in Saudi Arabia, or I would box in front of the world in Saudi Arabia.”

Reflecting on his defeat, Joshua positions this fight as taking a test again.

He said: “I had an exam on 3 June. I prepared myself for it and I failed my first exam. now I have my opportunity to go again.”

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.

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