By BEN MEMULETIWON
At exactly 9pm Nigerian time today, the world will stand still and every attention will be shifted to Diriyah in Saudi Arabia for the epic battle between Nigerian-born British heavyweight boxer, Anthony Olaseni Oluwafemi Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jnr of Mexico.
Tonight’s bout will be more than just physical, psychological and technical ability. It is a revenge of the shocking knock-out at the Madison Square Garden, New York City, USA, on June 1 when the Nigerian was stunned by Ruiz in their first fight.
Will there be yet another set-back in Diriyah? Ruiz is sure to shock his foe again saying:
“I’m confident about the rematch, but I don’t underestimate any fighter. I know AJ’s going to come stronger and more focused but inside the gym, like Mike Tyson says, everyone has a plan until they get hit.
“I’m sure everybody was trying to look for an excuse and reason why he didn’t perform and why he lost. I think it was down to the style. Styles make fights and I’ve been calling AJ out for a while. I knew his style was perfect for me and that’s why I plan to do the same thing.”
But Andy Ruiz denies that he has gone soft and looks forward to beating Joshua once again even after it was confirmed that he has added more weight.
But Joshua knows the sound of war drums when he hears one and he is mentally and physically prepared for the battle as he loads his anger in his two fists trying to avoid a second affliction.
Anthony Joshua remains bullish as he plots for Andy Ruiz Jnr downfall saying : “It’s about how you come back. I have a different challenge in my head. When you’ve walked the road once, you can do it again.
“I am looking at myself in the mirror and saying I know I’m better than that [losing last time round]. Andy is still the same person. He will come game and I’ve got to change some of my bits and bobs.”
Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, is also optimistic that the Nigerian is battle ready this time.
“I spoke to him (Joshua) a couple of days ago, he’s in Saudi Arabia and very happy. He’s trained hard and is just tapering down now, probably getting his last sparring in. He’s put absolutely everything into this camp and couldn’t have tried any harder.
“It took him a while to get over the defeat, he had to ask himself some questions, but the way he has bounced back is admirable. Time and time again, he has gone in at the deep end before his time, he’s doing it again. A warm-up fight is not in Anthony Joshua’s vocabulary.
“This isn’t a guy shirking a challenge. It’s not a guy asking for an easy warm-up fight. Creating a legacy has been the motivation and I believe he will win and when he does, it will be sweet. It’s tough though, it’s a 50/50 fight. He has to overcome that mental warfare of last time out.”