Anthony Joshua demeanor worryingly similar for Andy Ruiz Jr. rematch
Boasting a distinct lack of world title belts and considerably far from home on Wednesday, Anthony Joshua cut a forlorn figure as the Briton announced his rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr.
The 29 year-old is bidding to win back a clutch of championships surrendered when profoundly underestimating his Mexican opponent last June.
Since then, Joshua has dismissed several warnings to seek out a fresh outlook for his career. This is despite being dropped four times and looking out of his depth in New York.
A first fight abroad exposed the many flaws which a big portion of the boxing community knew AJ had. Something made abundantly clear during the build-up to the meeting at Madison Square Garden.
Losing the home comforts of those big UK stadiums ultimately told as Ruiz humbled the aura which promoter Eddie Hearn had once declared indestructible.
Joshua was urged to take stock, and then make the necessary changes to ensure Ruiz had no chance in the return leg.
Due to his master physique and Olympic standard boxing knowledge, Joshua had no right to lose to Ruiz in the first place. That situation even getting close to transpiring should have led to heads rolling.
Not so, according to Joshua, who has stuck to his guns for the next installment of his career.
But all could change in three months’ time.
Boasting no extra baggage containing those statement straps, Joshua looked like a lost boy as he went through the motions in Saudi Arabia.
Speaking to the press, the 2012 gold medalist clearly attempted to keep his nerves in check.
“I never thought that I would be fighting outside of London or America so it is a blessing. I’m humbled to be here,” he admitted. “With the (last) fight, I feel that I was up against a good challenger at the time.
“I was only champion until June 1, as Andy is champion now. That will last until December 7 when he has to put his titles in the air.
“Two warriors will go to war. The best man will walk out victorious. I am really looking forward to the challenge.
“I’m glad the people here are supporting boxing. Some may support me, others may support Andy. At the end of the day, we are going to have a really good night of boxing. That is what we are all here for.”
With his demeanor even more subdued for the New York press event, Joshua has a lot of convincing to do in order to persuade those previous doubters wrong.
Once a picture of confidence, this outer layer seems to have drained from Joshua ever since he left the shores of blighty.
Back in London, though, Joshua picked up considerably due to the familiar setting. It doesn’t bode well for the Diriyah trip.
In contrast, Ruiz has been laughing and joking his way through the whole gig. As in the NY meeting last summer, Ruiz has taken everything in his stride.
“I’m really happy to be here. I thank everybody. On June 1, I made my dreams come true with a lot of sacrifice, blood and tears,” said Ruiz. “I just believed in myself.
“I think I am here for a purpose. And I just want to tell everybody that if they have a dream they’ve got to follow through with it. Everything is possible.”
From the playful man who once asked to hold Joshua’s belts, to a champion with new-found belief in his ability, Ruiz is on top and he knows it.
One loss on his record, and a debatable one at that – means it’s no foregone conclusion that any UK bookmakers will be claiming a profit this time around.
A US betting market with much closer fractions seems to have it correct for what is an evenly-matched contest. Ruiz has the fight in the palm of his hand, and unless Joshua brings something different to the table, the result may sadly be the same.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay