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.”
Afelokhai Downplays Pressure To Win Trophy
Newly signed Rivers United’s goalkeeper, Theophilus Afelokhai, has downplayed the huge expectation on the Port Harcourt-based side to win a title after going on a spending spree with a recruitment drive of some of the biggest legs in the Nigeria Professional Football League ahead of the next football league season.
Afelokhai speaking in a chat with Tidesports source said the players assembled are big players with huge ambitions and will notwithstanding any team targets want to achieve and win things for themselves and the club.
He stressed that there is no pressure to win a trophy at the club but certainly they want to all succeed.
“We have the good players here and the players are really ready to deliver, and having someone like me and others every player know what they want in life, we have a good plan for ourselves and the team and it’s to win something and that’s why we are here.
“We know what we want, every player knows what he wants. I don’t think we are under pressure to win something but the thing is that we want to win something. We are all here to achieve and we are going to achieve what we are here for.”
Wike Hailed Over Rivers Real Madrid Academy …Institution Set To Admit Students
The Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike has been described as a leader who truly understands the value of sports and goes ahead to institute facilities that would enhance such values and make them accessible to the people.
This was the position of the state Commissioner for Sports, Hon Boma Iyaye on Tuesday during a tour of the magnificent Rivers State Real Madrid Football Academy in Port Harcourt, with sports journalists.
Speaking after the tour conducted by the Special Assistant (SA) to Governor Wike on the Real Madrid Football Academy, Barr. Christopher Green, the Commissioner said that the governor has demonstrated his commitment to sports development and empowerment through numerous projects and programmes, especially the Real Madrid Football Academy.
According to Hon. Iyaye, the football academy is an iconic project and the edifice would go a long way to show that Governor Wike is indeed the Power of Sports in Africa, POS-Africa, a title that was awarded him in 2018.
The commissioner said that at conception, he did not think that the project would be as huge as it has turned out to be. “I am elated and short of words,” he said. “This is a project that after 20 or 30 years, anybody who is related to the project would shake his head and thank God that he was part of the team that was able to do this at our own time.
“Maybe, Rivers people would not immediately realise the legacy the governor is bequeathing, not only to the youths but anybody who is a Rivers indigene,” he said.
“We want to thank the governor for what he has done for Rivers people, we thank him for what he has bequeathed to our youths. “From the age of eight, nine, 10 and 11, we want to catch them young, probably, if some of us had had the opportunity of going through such a facility at a tender age, we would have been among the best footballers in the world,” he said.
Speaking earlier, the SA, Barrister Green described the academy as one of its kind in the world where youngsters would be weaned in the art of footballing and academics in a unique way.
“What we have here is a world class facility, comparable to any one that can be found in the world. “Our teachers are among the best you can get in this country and our methodology is quite different.
“We’re grateful to Governor Wike, the man whose dream and vision has made this possible. What he has bequeathed to the youths in Rivers State is something indescribable. “He has secured the future of our youths in the state and even beyond.”
Green said that the academy would be ready to admit students from next month and that the quota would be 70 per cent for Rivers people and 30 per cent from outside and other nationalities as directed by the governor.
By: Gabriel Nwanetanya
Administrative Structure In NPFL, Immature – Baraje
Veteran Nigeria Professional Football League Manager, Zachary Baraje, has described the administrative structure in Nigerian Professional Football League football as immature with the consistent annual mass drift of players and coaches among clubs in the different tiers of the league.
Baraje speaking in a chat with Tidesports source on the pervasive occurrence said the practice has put league football structure in Nigeria at the incubation stage and this has also encumbered what should have been sustainable growth of clubs in the different strata of league football in Nigeria.
“We’re still in a stage of incubation, maturity is really yet to get to us we are still not yet matured, by the time we are matured really that’s when things will take shape in our club sides. So our football will just remain in the doldrums like that, the movement of our coaches for one year contract if things are well done the contract supposed to be not less than two years and above in such a way that we will know how consistent your team has been.
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