Anthony Joshua says beating Andy Ruiz Jr will be a career-defining feat

Anthony Cocks

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Former unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua insists rebounding from his loss to Andy Ruiz Jr will be the making of him.

Joshua was upset by Ruiz Jr in New York in June, hitting the deck four times before being stopped in the seventh round.

“The Muhammad Alis faced it, the Mike Tysons faced it and now I’m facing it,” said Joshua, who lost his IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight championships to Ruiz Jr three months ago.

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“It’s all part of it. It’s no big deal. It’s about how you come back, I have a different challenge in my head. When you’ve walked the road once, you can do it again.”​

Joshua and Ruiz Jr have been on a three-country media tour to official announce their rematch in Saudi Arabia on December 7.

Mexican-American Ruiz Jr insists he has the same hunger as champion as he did as challenger.

“Of course I still have that hunger. I just got these belts. You think I want to lose them straight away? Hell, no. I am excited, there’s no fear. It’s just crazy how I made my dreams come true.,” he said.

“It’s going to mean everything to defend the titles. December 7 the belts will be in the air, it’s either me or him. The mindset is that I think Anthony Joshua is trying to take food from my kids. My motivation is my kids and family and if anyone wants to take it away from them I’m willing to die to protect them.”​

Joshua said: “The man did what he had to do. He was the best option when we looked at it. It was a bump, a loss, but nothing has changed in the way I view him.”​

Joshua, who is expected to earn close to £60 million for the bout, was respectful of Ruiz Jr and hinted that he will be making some changes for the rematch.

“It’s more myself I have to change,” Joshua said. “I am looking at myself in the mirror and saying I know I’m better than that. Andy is still the same person. He will come game and I’ve got to change some of my bits and bobs. ​

“I was 50 per cent of the way towards getting a win, just got caught. That’s why I said it was a punch from the gods [which knocked him down in the third round]. ​

“I know how to fight. If I had to change everything now, it would be too risky. I haven’t got time to do that and make it new.”​

Joshua sees victory as a defining part of his legacy.

“Now it’s about how to come back and hopefully the next generation will look at how I came back, how I rebuilt,” he said.

“But many champions like Ali and Tyson have come back from defeats. If I win, no problem. If I lose this fight and stay down, then I’ve got a problem.”

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