Anthony Joshua Says Ruiz Rematch Pressure Made Him Tougher
Thursday afternoon in London, Unified Heavyweight Champ, Anthony Joshua and his opponent, IBF top contender, Kubrat Pulev, held their final press conference before their long delayed Saturday night WBA, WBO and IBF World title fight. And, the champ, who regained his belts in a 12 round decision rematch with Andy Ruiz 12 months ago, says he learned a bunch from dealing with that pressure.
Joshua took a question from Matchroom Boxing promoter, Eddie Hearn, about the year out of the ring and what he’s gone through to be ready to battle the 39 year old Bulgarian. And, he made clear that dealing with the pressure to get his titles back from the man who kayoed him, has made him better,
“The pressure that I went through last year was tough, but made me stronger, mentally. Grew thicker skin. And, I’ve always been tough, wanted to fight the best. That’s never been an issue. What have I got to lose and I’ve got everything to gain,” Joshua said.
“I want to be successful in boxing. And the only way to be successful is taking on good challengers. And, this is another one that I’m looking forward to competing with.”
Joshua always had some pressure to succeed, like when he defended against former Undisputed champ, Wladimir Klitschko and eventually scored a TKO in a wild fight.
But, Joshua definitely had to grow thicker skin after the American Ruiz stunned him a year ago in June at Madison Square Garden in New York. The 7th round TKO defeat was one of the most shocking in Heavyweight history and handed Joshua a humiliating first pro loss.
He recovered, refocused and outclassed an out of shape Ruiz in an easy 12 round decision win in Saudi Arabia later in December. And now, he has been waiting for his first bout of 2020.
Joshua, 23-1, 21 KOs, had originally signed up to defend against the Bulgarian in June at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in front of over 65,000 fans. However, the Covid-19 pandemic scuttled that and has delayed the fight now into the winter months. This is part because Hearn was holding out hope that some fans would be able to attend the title showdown.
But, instead of 90,000 at Wembley Stadium like what Joshua fought in front of/fed off the energy of in previous title defenses, this bout will be in the much smaller Wembley arena and have only 1,000 socially distanced fans in attendance.
Matchroom hopes their PPV audience on Sky Sports in the U.K. and on the DAZN streaming service in the U.S. will respond in great numbers.
Still, Joshua knows that no matter how many are actually there or watching on TV Saturday night, the rabid British fight fans expect him to deliver a big performance, if not KO Pulev early. This, as he and they, want to see him in a possible unification showdown with WBC champ, Tyson Fury by next Summer.