By: Sean Crose
“It’s not about what you look like,” says the IBF, WBA, and WBO heavyweight champion of the world, Anthony Joshua. “It’s a craft, a skill, and what’s in your heart and your head matters in the end.” These words may seem odd coming from the 22-0 knockout artist, for the term “Adonis-like” is often used to describe Joshua’s physique. The Englishman’s opponent June 1st at Madison Square Garden, however, is another story. Although the 32-1 Andy Ruiz is an exciting boxer with an impressive record, he simply doesn’t have the athletic looking body one expects in this (or perhaps any) heavyweight era.
Joshua refuses to write his opponent off. “Andy has shown he has all that, he can fight and box,” he says. “That’s what matters. I think Andy is a great challenger and will bring it on June 1.” Although few would shrug Ruiz off as a joke – he’s got some rather impressive wins against solid competition – Joshua was originally supposed to face off against Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller in his American debut (the June 1st bout will be Joshua’s first match of US soil). Brooklyn’s Miller tested positive for numerous performance enhancing drugs, however, and so the door became open for Ruiz, who has fought as recently as April 20th. Joshua wants the world to know he’s not facing a soft touch.
“Take me out of my body but keep the same attributes and height, same jab, same chin, same heart and same mind, but I looked different,” says the 6’6 Joshua, “I’d still get to the same position I am in because it’s what is within you that makes a champion, your genetics, and his genetics are the same – and he took the fight!” Although the defending champion has a bout to sell, his high opinion of Ruiz comes across as considered and genuine.
“He’s keen, he’s game and you cannot knock him,” Joshua says of Ruiz. “He can fight and he’s got hands. He gave a World Champion in Joseph Parker lots of problems, and when you look at the fight that Parker gave Whyte when people are saying Whyte can beat Wilder, Fury and me, Andy is championship level for sure, and I have not underestimated him one bit.” Ruiz may be a solid enough foe, but fans are salivating for Joshua to face off against such names as Wilder, and Fury. Wilder’s frightening knockout of Dominic Breazeale last Saturday only added to the pressure for a showdown between he and Joshua, who knocked out Breazeale himself in 2016.