Diriyah Boxing War: All Eyes on Nigeria’s Anthony Joshua

Nigerians are on their knees praying for Anthony Joshua as he steps into the ring in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, Saturday night, against  Andy Ruiz to reclaim his titles from the Mexican-American.

Joshua’s mother, who will be at the ringside to watch her son, is leading the prayer warriors, insisting that God will see her pearl through.

Joshua also revealed that he has received great advice from some of the best in global boxing telling journalists in Saudi Arabia that the prayers and advice will motivate him in the ring.

Joshua revealed he has received advice from former opponent Wladimir Klitschko.

Anthony Joshua weighed-in at his lowest ever for a world title fight, and will be three stone lighter than Andy Ruiz Jr in the rematch. Joshua made a statement with the  weighing-in at 16st 13lbs, having displayed a slimline physique all week, while Ruiz Jr was heavier than their first fight at 20st 3lbs.

In his advice, Klitschko urges the Nigerian-born pugilist to ignore all outside influences in the bout’s build-up.

Joshua then added: ‘Klitschko also told me to stay off my phone this week, don’t listen to too much outside influences because your own beliefs is what’s important this week. Not what someone is trying to tell you from the outside.’

The Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz Jr rematch in Saudi Arabia is also dividing opinions across the boxing world.

After Mexico’s massive underdog dethroned Britain’s unified world champion in New York City on June 1, all eyes have been focused on their December 7 return bout in Diriyah.

Deontay Wilder said: “I really believe Andy’s gonna go in there and do it again.

“When I look at the first fight and I see certain things as a fighter, a lot of red flags that alert me. And if that same mindset and momentum goes into the second fight, Andy Ruiz is going to win that easily.

“I’d prefer him to win because we’re in the same stable. When he wins we have the opportunity to unify the division. If Joshua wins, I don’t think that’s gonna be.

“He got knocked down four times, and then he quit. That is huge for me. On the outside looking in, to see how that fight occurred and everything that was going on, I think he’s going to be fighting his demons inside of that ring, not just Ruiz.

Andy Rruiz punishing Anthony Joshua during their first fight

Dillian Whyte, who will be on the under-card said: “I think it’s a great fight just like the first one was.

“Everyone was overlooking Andy Ruiz in the first fight, even I thought Joshua was gonna knock Ruiz out in six rounds…

“The great thing is he has a chance to put everything that was wrong right.

“He’s British, he’s my competitor and he’s my rival, I’m gonna back him. Hopefully he wins and I want him to win.

“It’s good for British boxing, he’s done a lot for British boxing, he’s unified the division and all that.

“He’s a young man just like me, he’s doing well and he’s doing his thing. Hopefully he does win.

Tyson Fury said: “Andy Ruiz is a little fat pig, comes in on three weeks’ notice, murdered every donut and taco in California and then goes in with a man who’s had a 12-week training camp with every sports scientist in the United Kingdom.

“But the little fat fella goes in there and bowls him over in seven rounds…

“I see it going pretty much similar to the first fight.

“I know that they’ve both lost some weight, they’ve had more time to prepare, they’ve changed a few things in their training teams and all that.

“They’ll have different approaches and they’ll try different game plans, but Mike Tyson said it: ‘Everyone’s got a great game plan until thy get punched in the face.’

“You can be working on something for ages, you work on it, work on it, work on it, and you get tagged and that’s it.

“You go back to how you once was and you wanna fight.

“They’re both big strong men and they both can knock each other out, but he beat him once and knocked him out, so he’s got a mental edge going into that rematch.

“You’re going into that mentally beaten already because you’ve already been knocked out…

“Everybody has a bogeyman in their career. Whether you find him or not, everybody’s got one. I think personally he may be the bogeyman for him, who knows?”


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