The second leg of the world tour to hype the Dec. 7 rematch between unified heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua commenced on Thursday in New York City.
At the first press conference in Saudi Arabia, both guys vowed to beat one another other. The tone in New York shifted to reflecting on the past and the respective journeys of the two heavyweight combatants.
One of the narratives from Ruiz's shocking upset on June 1 has been that Joshua quit when the going got tough. Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) stepped up to the podium first and went back to the days when he lost as an amateur. He suggested that he could have given up on boxing back then and done the same thing after his first professional loss three months ago. But giving up and running away from adversity isn't who he's made of.
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"In my short 11-year career, from the amateurs to the pros, I have seen a lot," Joshua said at the press conference. "But I haven’t seen it all yet. But I’ve definitely seen a lot. There were times I’ve faced defeat as an amateur, in my third fight. Imagine if I would have stopped then. There would be no now. I lost in the European quarterfinals. Imagine if I would have stopped then. There would be no now. I lost in the world championship finals. Imagine if I stopped then. There would be no now. I feel stopping isn’t in my DNA. To continue and as long as I have breath in me, I’ll keep on fighting for the passion of boxing more so to carry the sport as an ambassador of this sport and an ambassador for championship-level fighting. I feel like that’s where I belong."
Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) returned to the city where he pulled off one of the greatest upsets in boxing history when he claimed the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles. The only blemish on Ruiz's pro resume is a narrow majority decision loss to Joseph Parker in December 2016 that many felt should have gone the other way.
Prior to the 29-year-old's shocking seventh-round TKO, the prevailing narrative was more about Ruiz's body than it was the skill he possessed. The first fighter of Mexican descent to win a heavyweight title had a simple message for those who get criticized for their appearance.
"I’m happy to be here in New York," Ruiz said. "This is where everything happened when I became the first Mexican heavyweight champion of the world and made history. But I know AJ. He wants his belts back. I know he does. I know how it feels to lose. I lost against (Joseph) Parker when I thought I won the fight.
"He could bounce back. But my job is for him not to win and get these belts. I’ve been through so much. I know a lot of people have been through so much, but I’ve through so many roller coasters in my life. So many doubters in my life telling me that I wasn’t going to do nothing just because of my appearance (and) the way I look. At least, I think I’m proof of people can say, ‘Man, he did it, and I can do it.’ And they could as long as they train hard, dedicate yourself and believe what you want to do."
The one constant that has remained through the first two press conferences is that Ruiz and Joshua feel they will leave the Middle East with three heavyweight belts.
"I’m not gun shy," Joshua said. "I’m looking forward to getting back in there Dec. 7 and reclaiming my belts."
"What I believe is on Dec. 7 the same result is going to happen," Ruiz added. "I’m going to train my ass off. God is on my side, and we’re going to win."