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Joshua bout could carry a lot of weight

Lance Pugmire, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Boxing

NEW YORK -- By itself, Anthony Joshua's U.S. debut heightens the revival of boxing's heavyweight division.

Even as the madness of posturing over money by Joshua and potential foes Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury deservedly rankles followers, Joshua expresses patience with the process.

"The heavyweight division is going to be spoken about now, which is good," the former Olympic gold medalist from England said this week as he prepared to defend his three heavyweight belts Saturday night at Madison Square Garden against former title challenger Andy Ruiz Jr. of Imperial, Calif.

Fellow unbeaten champion Wilder this week soured the anticipation for a showdown with Joshua by agreeing to take his next fight by the early fall against Cuba's Luis Ortiz. He followed up that announcement by tweeting on Friday that he has signed a contract to fight Fury in 2020.

Joshua (22-0, 21 knockouts) said he'll strive to answer Wilder's first-round knockout of California's Dominic Breazeale two weeks ago with a more convincing showcase of his own talent against Ruiz.

"I don't care who you are. You can't not look at the bigger picture, and that's what keeps me motivated," Joshua said, noting that even Ruiz, his rotund challenger who habitually eats a candy bar before his fights, might be envisioning how victory will lead to "his Snickers deal."

 

Ruiz (32-1, 21 KOs) was summoned as a replacement foe for Brooklyn's Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller after Miller submitted three positive tests for performance-enhancing drugs in April. He credited a quick return to training camp from an April 20 fifth-round stoppage of Alexander Dimitrenko for leaving him in better shape (by his standards) for the Joshua bout.

Questions about that fitness remain, as seen Friday when 11-1 underdog Ruiz weighed in at 268 pounds after weighing 259 last month in Carson. Ruiz said the added girth was planned to compensate for the four inches of height and eight inches of reach he gives away. Joshua weighed in at 247.8 pounds.

"A lot of people Joshua fights are scared to go in at him. They kind of run away," Ruiz said. "The kind of fighter I am, I'm explosive, fast, and I go forward. I attack."

Doing so will expose Ruiz to Joshua's formidable power, which dropped long-reigning champion Wladimir Klitschko and all others he's faced except Joseph Parker.

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