Anthony Joshua has said that he is “punching like a horse kicking backwards” and holds “no fear” going into his highly anticipated rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr.
At a charged news conference next to the Diriyah Arena where the two fight in Saudi Arabia tomorrow, Ruiz, 30, warned there is “no way” he will lose.
Joshua added he will weigh in lighter than the 17st 9lbs he posted before his New York defeat as part of a new plan.
“I may be less than 17 stone,” he told Tidesports source.
“I’m punching loose and heavy, rhythm and flow,” the 30-year-old added. “Before I was trying to bench-press a house. I used my body to get where I needed but then I started realising the sweet science of the sport.
“I am punching like a horse kicking backwards right now.”
Joshua has not weighed less than 17st since 2014 and an analyst, Steve Bunce said his projected weight was a “stunning revelation”.
Ruiz, perhaps playing mind games, arrived at the news conference sporting a New York Knicks jersey. Joshua was housed in the changing room of the NBA franchise for the first bout, where he suffered one of the most shocking defeats in heavyweight history and lost the IBF, WBA and WBO world titles.
As the pair faced off, Joshua’s team shouted “two times” behind him in reference of his chance to win the world titles for a second time. Ruiz’s team responded, shouting “and still” as the camera flashes lit up both men.
Joshua, who had his final six-round spar on Tuesday, was asked if winning the belts back would be a career high and replied: “I was asked if it will be a special moment and said ‘no’ as I know I belong there.
“When I got back from New York, I didn’t lose any heart or fire in my belly and started punching the heavy bag preparing for this day. There is no fear in my heart, my eyes or mind, I am confident.”
The venue for the news conference and fight, on the outskirts of Riyadh in Diriyah, are flanked by a fairground and a stage that will host US artist Usher and Chris Brown today.
The world’s best-paid fighter Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson are expected to attend a fight that has been widely criticised as a result of the host country’s human rights record.
Those involved have made no secret of the financial motivation to come here, with Joshua set to earn upwards of £50m and promoter Eddie Hearn defiantly told reporters it was “a wonderful, wonderful decision”.
Ruiz described Saudi Arabia as “the perfect place to make history” and his stunning stoppage win six months ago ranked high in the sport’s archive of upsets.
Asked if he held any fear over the kind of power that saw Joshua knock him down in New York, he said. “Not really. I was the one who had the strength, the one backing him up. When I jabbed I pushed him away.
“I know he lost weight and that he will try and box me around, so it’s my job to prevent that.
“I have been doing this since I was six and it is finally paying off. There is no way I am going to let these belts go, I will die trying. It has been a rollercoaster and now that I made the dreams come true there is no way I will let these go.”
Joshua’s back-to-basics approach for the bout has been well documented and he again said he had no interest in delivering a “show” but was just “here to win”.
His promoter Hearn has expressed how nervous he is given his marquee fighter would slip down the heavyweight pecking order with a second defeat.
Joshua’s trainer Rob McCracken, who faced criticism after the first loss, said his fighter was “in a much better place” this time around.
And Joshua also said that defeat made him use his “time wisely” in prioritising his skills over other aspects of training.
“When Muhammad Ali was training he said he would build a shack to train in,” added Joshua.
“There are clues to success and you have to go back to what it takes to be a great heavyweight champion. We had to bring in hard, rough sparring partners. I brought in the toughest and roughest.”
Infantino Reveals How Nigeria Can Host FIFA Competitions
FIFA President, Gianni Infantino last Thursday, in Abuja, revealed how Nigeria can be made a destination for top Grade A football matches and FIFA competitions.
Infantino gave the insight when the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare took him on a tour of the renovated main bowl of the MoshoodAbiola National Stadium.
The FIFA boss, who was visibly happy with the re-grassed pitch at the stadium, said well-maintained stadia with good pitches were key to hosting grade A matches.
He said FIFA was ready to work more closely with Nigeria to develop the game and host more grade A matches in the country.
“We (FIFA) have to make sure when a country, when a government with the President, the minister and private persons are investing in football, in stadia, we work with them to give something back.
“It’s obvious that stadiums like this (MoshoodAbiola stadium) and others in Nigeria deserve the best quality games.
“They deserve top national team games, top club games and it’s not just about Nigerian football or African football, it’s about global football.
“We are working together to see what kind of new opportunities, competitions we can bring for men and women to fill this stadium and make the heart of the stadium beat for the fantastic spectacle that all of the Nigerian love, which is football,” he said.
Earlier, the minister said the Federal Government will continue to invest in sports development and facilities.
Tidesports source reports that the FIFA President, in the company of the minister, had earlier visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the Statehouse, as part of his engagement.
Why NFF Must Offset Rohr’s Salaries, Bonuses – Aikhomogbe
Former Nigerian goal keeper, Andrew Aikhomogbe has called on the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) to resolve every outstanding salaries and bonuses owed to the Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr before the next World Cup qualifiers against Central Africa Republic (CAR).
Aikhomogbe made this known on the backdrop of the football body’s recent deal with Baba Ijebu.
Although the financial details of the deal was not disclosed, Aikhomogbe in an interview with Newsmen from his base in Cairo, Egypt, stated that the NFF should use this platform to offset Rohr’s salaries and bonuses.
“It’s a big delight to know that the Nigeria Football Federation have signed a deal with Baba Ijebu and this will serve as an opportunity for them to use part of the money to pay Rohr’s salaries and bonuses.
“There is no better time to motivate him than now before Nigeria’s next 2022 World Cup qualifiers against the Central Africa Republic (CAR) on October,” he said.
Enyimba Players Vow To Support Finidi
Enyimba FC Goalkeeper, John Noble has stated that the players of the People’s Elephants will be key to the success of the newly appointed coach of the team, Finidi George.
Finidi, signed a two-year deal with Enyimba and oversaw his first full training session with the team on Thursday after a cameo appearance on Wednesday.
Speaking in a chat with Tidesports source, Noble gave his assessment of the coach in his first session under the manager and believes the former Super Eagles winger has what it takes to lead the team to the next level.
He added that the Enyimba players will be the ones to hand Finidi George his success at the club.
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