Amir Khan has given his verdict on the forthcoming rematch between Andy Ruiz Jr. and fellow-Briton Anthony Joshua taking place in Saudi Arabia.
Joshua follows in Khan’s footsteps in headlining the Middle Eastern country after his win over Billy Dib last summer.
After being dropped four times by Ruiz in surrendered his title at Madison Square Garden, somewhere Khan also topped last spring, Joshua is under massive pressure to win.
Ruiz has become a multi-millionaire and Mexican hero since becoming the first heavyweight champion from those shores. Khan believes the 30 year-old will be in much better shape this time around.
The pair have history too as Khan held camps at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym back when Ruiz was a whippersnapper coming through the ranks.
As much as Khan would like to see Joshua gain revenge, the Bolton man has alerted the 2012 Olympic gold medalist of the continued danger afoot.
“I hope Anthony Joshua goes in there and wins the fight, but Ruiz is a friend of mine as well,” Khan exclusively told World Boxing News. “I remember when I used to train in the Wild Card Gym and he used to be a little kid.
“Andy used to be in training watching us train when me and Manny Pacquiao used to spar. I looked out the ring this one time and someone told me that he was going to be a champion one day.
“I looked out the ring and waved to him and just got back to training,” he revealed.
Khan continued by firing a warning to Joshua about the possibility of further danger due to Ruiz having more time and cash to prepare.
“You look at him and think people are just blowing smoke. But he went and proved it by beating Joshua, so credit to him,” said the one-time unified super lightweight king.
“I think this next fight is going to be a hard fight. This time, Ruiz has a full training camp which you can’t take away. Plus he has money to spend on nutritionists, on strength and conditioners.
“Before, he couldn’t do that because he didn’t have the funds to do that. But obviously, I think he’ll be in better shape and condition than he was in the first fight.”
Asked whether the Diriyah battle was make or break for Joshua’s career, Khan wasn’t having any of it.
“They say that all the time. No, I think Joshua still has a future in boxing. You can’t take anything away from him, he’s been a unified heavyweight champion.
“There are still fights out there for him. He’s a big PPV seller in the UK. I think people will always have that interest to see him fight.
“God forbid he gets beat again, I still feel he can come back. Maybe it’s just that Andy Ruiz Jr. has a style that just beats him all the time?
“Maybe he just goes onto other opponents (if he loses again) and he just faces them instead?”
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News and an Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay (article transcribed by Assistant Editor).