Ruiz v Joshua II: AJ calls on Klitschko advice for defining rematch

By Dom Farrell 5 December 2019 34
Ruiz v Joshua II: AJ calls on Klitschko advice for defining rematch

Anthony Joshua has been given pointers by old foe Wladimir Klitschko as he looks to regain the unified world heavyweight title against Andy Ruiz Jr.

The previously undefeated Joshua was stunningly floored four times as he ceded the IBF, WBA and WBO belts to Ruiz inside seven rounds at New York's Madison Square Garden in June.

Where his thrilling 2017 win over former long-reigning heavyweight king Klitschko in front of 90,000 people at Wembley represented a career high, his upset loss was a punishing low.

The former foes are now friends and Klitschko has urged Joshua to avoid distractions after undertaking a more-boxing focused training camp for Saturday's rematch in Saudi Arabia.

"Klitschko is a G. He doesn't get enough credit, I think, for everything he's achieved and done," the 30-year-old Briton told his fighter meeting in Diriyah.

"When I fought him, he called me a cross-fit champion. I thought, 'Who's this geezer talking to?'.

"But he just knew that when it came to boxing he was more conditioned because he spent a lot more time in the ring. So we spent a lot more time in the ring this time, understanding ring generalship and the science of boxing.

"He told me to stay off my phone this week, don't listen to too much outside influences because your own belief is what's important this week; not what someone's trying to tell you from the outside."

The result of Joshua leaving the weights room behind is a leaner-looking fighter, who believes he could weigh in below 17 stone for the first time since 2014.

This does not mean he plans to box exclusively on the back foot to avoid Ruiz's blurring fists.

"For me, take centre ring," he replied when asked what the best tactics would be.

"If I'm six inches in front of Ruiz… all it takes for a man to miss a punch is six inches, so sometimes you haven't got to be running around the ring."

Indeed, Joshua mischievously suggested Ruiz would like him to box and move after a brief conversation at Wednesday's news conference.

"I asked him upstairs, 'How do I beat you then?'," he chuckled. "Man, you should move around a little…'.

"I'm 6ft 6, so it would be wrong for me to sit in front of Ruiz and go toe-to-toe hooking.

"I have to box on my attributes, which is range and movement. My boxing style is not what a scared fighter does, it's what a smart fighter would do.

"I'm going to be the smarter fighter on the night. We have to engage to win but I'm going to engage to my benefit."

Another piece of Klitschko advice was for Joshua to take an active role in the direction of his training under Rob McCracken and fighter and trainer are certainly speaking in unison.

"You can't jab and move against Ruiz. It's for the birds," said McCracken – Carl Froch's former cornerman, who has welcomed assistants Angel Fernandez and Joby Clayton into Joshua's camp this time around.

"He's going to come over the top at some point, close the gap and hit you with a right hand to the body.

"You've got to control him. You can't control yourself and him. He's going to pressure you too much.

"If you can move two inches, why move 10 inches? It doesn't make any sense."

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