- SunSport Reporters
- 5 Dec 2019, 22:50
THE countdown is well and truly on for Anthony Joshua's massive rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr on Saturday.
As well as the big fight in the desert, there's plenty to look forward to in 2020 as Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder remain on a collision course after the Bronze Bomber's dramatic win against Luis Ortiz.
Meanwhile, Dillian Whyte will face Mariusz Wach on the packed undercard.
One of boxing's greats, Manny Pacquiao, will make his long-awaited return against either Shawn Porterm Danny Garcia or Mikey Garcia.
Follow all the gossip from the world of boxing below...
COMMENT: By Colin Hart
JOSHUA OF ARABIA hasn’t got a romantic ring to it — but the Watford warrior could become a boxing version of desert hero TE Lawrence tomorrow night.
All Anthony Joshua has to do is kick sand in the face of Andy Ruiz Jr and return home from Riyadh with the three world championship belts safely back in his possession.
Logic tells us there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be capable of doing it.
AJ has the essential tools for the job — height, reach and power.
Unfortunately, we can’t apply logic to any sport, let alone boxing.
In the mid-17th century, English poet Samuel Butler observed: “Logic is like the sword — those who appeal to it shall perish by it.”
We can only hope Joshua has recovered sufficiently from any psychological damage he may have suffered after what Ruiz did to him at Madison Square Garden six months ago.
Despite his vehement protestations to the contrary, he must have suffered a severe blow to his psyche.
An overwhelming 25-1 ON favourite, Joshua was floored four times before being stopped in the seventh round — not only did he lose his unbeaten record and his titles — but also a great chunk of his credibility.
To add to his embarrassment, promoter Bob Arum called Ruiz a fat slob. Not surprising when he climbed through the ropes with a double chin, large breasts and a beer belly.
Ruiz claims to have lost a few pounds since but he still looks like a walking nursery rhyme — the one starting with the words “roly-poly”.
People like me who made fun of him before the first fight aren’t laughing now.
The ample Mexican proved he’s a formidable fighter who must be taken deadly seriously.
Joshua is attempting to do what heavyweights of the calibre of Jack Dempsey, Jersey Joe Walcott, Sonny Liston and Mike Tyson failed to achieve.
And that’s regain the richest prize in sport in a return battle against men who relieved them of their crown.
It will be fascinating to see what Joshua’s strategy is going to be.
Is he going to try to blast out Ruiz early and inevitably risk exposing his vulnerable chin?
Or will he adopt the far more sensible approach of keeping Ruiz at long range behind his jab, to keep his chin out of danger throughout the 12 rounds?
If he takes the second option, it’s bound to lead to a boring contest but it would certainly mean a much greater chance of victory.
Joshua would once again be a world champion, with much of his tarnished reputation restored.
AJ denies he was complacent when he faced Ruiz in New York.
But when he walked into the Garden that evening, laughing and joking with the security guards, he gave the impression he was on his way to a party.
We have been reliably informed we will now be seeing a faster, more streamlined and focused Joshua on this occasion.
But I don’t think even Joshua’s most ardent fans would be shocked if Ruiz, with fast hands that belie his bulk, exposes AJ for a second time — and finishes him inside the distance once more.
Gene Tunney did it to Dempsey, Ezzard Charles to Walcott, Muhammad Ali to Liston and Evander Holyfield to Tyson.
If that should happen, Joshua can kiss goodbye to mega-clashes with Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury next year — maybe for ever.
He is said to be getting more than £60million for this Saudi saga.
But if Ruiz should triumph again, Joshua will be worth less than one of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz’s old worn-out camels.
Joshua is a slight 4-9 favourite and without conviction I think he can come away with a points win or a late stoppage.
But this time I wouldn’t dream of putting my garden shed on him, let alone my house!
GEORGE FOREMAN believes Anthony Joshua can pull off his own Rumble in the Jungle and emulate Muhammad Ali by beating Andy Ruiz and becoming a two-time heavyweight king.
The Greatest had to go to Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, in 1974 to defeat the once-terrifying Foreman and reclaim his belts in the most iconic fight in history.
Britain’s AJ is in the equally controversial boxing backwater of Saudi Arabia, chasing cash as well as his former crowns, and Foreman fancies him to put his nation back on top.
The two-time legend told SunSport: “Britain will showcase, England will showcase like they have over the decades great boxing champions and that’s what Anthony Joshua had going for himself.
“If he had been from anywhere else in the world, no one would be talking much about him at all.
“He lost but in a way he’s still winning because everyone is still talking about the rematch. So I think Anthony Joshua is a winner and will continue to be a winner because the country he’s representing.
“The UK is a great boxing area and Joshua has a great future and will make a name for himself.
“I think Anthony Joshua will win the rematch, based on boxing, he’s the better boxer, he’s got the longer reach.
“If he doesn’t go for a knockout and if he keeps his hands up, 12 rounds will go by quickly and he’ll be reinstated as the heavyweight champion of the world again.
“He has enough experience from the Olympics and elsewhere, he’s the better boxer. Joshua will prevail.”
DILLIAN WHYTE almost quit boxing with depression fighting his doping charge.
The Body Snatcher is still under investigation from UK Anti-Doping following a failed test in the build-up to his July 20 win over Oscar Rivas.
He was cleared to box that evening and has been free to fight since — but a dark cloud has hung over the Londoner as UKAD and the British Board of Control have failed to settle the situation.
Ahead of his bout with Pole Mariusz Wach on Anthony Joshua’s undercard on Saturday, Whyte, 31, opened up about his struggles.
Whyte said: “I’m not someone to talk about my emotions but I have been stressed, down and depressed. Boxing is very dark, muddy, murky waters. One day you’re floating and the next day you’re sinking.
“It’s good to be back in the ring. It’s been stressful and a few times I’ve thought about walking away from boxing and jacking it in. I came very close to quitting.
“But my team, they kept pushing me, urging me to go to the gym and taking the mickey out of me, saying my belly was getting bigger.”