Andy Ruiz claims he has “chills” after landing a dream world title shot against heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua on Saturday, June 1, at Madison Square Garden, New York.
Ruiz is aiming to become the first ever Mexican heavyweight world champion.
“The chills – I’m really excited for this fight,” said Ruiz, a replacement for Jarrell Miller after the American was suspended for testing positive three times in random pre-fight testing. “There’s nervousness in me, but they’re happy nerves. This is my chance to make history, I want to be one of those greats like Chavez, Tyson, Holyfield, Lennox Lewis. I want to be in that category. Thanks to God for everything that he put in me, I just can’t wait.
“I think the fight is going toe-to-toe, two guys smashing each other’s faces. I’m going in there to throw combinations like I’ve never done before, to improve my speed. A lot of people underestimated me, and I’m used to that. My whole life people underrated me so I’m just going in there to take all. I’m not going in there scared and I’m not going in there nervous, I’m going to go in there mad and to take what’s mine.”
The California-based Mexican is in his second World title tilt having pushed Joseph Parker to the limit for the WBO crown in the Kiwi’s Auckland hometown in December 2016, being edged out by the finest of margins via majority decision.
Joshua (22-0 21 KOs) defends his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO crowns for the second time, and his eighth World title fight lands on his hotly-anticipated American debut after stopping Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium, London, in September.
Ruiz added: “I think being so tall he fights like a big robot. I think with my style, my speed, my movement, I don’t think he’s fought anybody like me. It’s going to be a whole different ball game. All the guys that he’s fought, they usually run around from him. I don’t think he’s good going back. I’m going to bring the pressure, the speed, and the combinations to him.
“When I do pull out this win, everything is going to change. I’m going to bring the titles back to Mexico, it’s going to mean everything. I’m going to be able to change my whole family’s lives; my life and all my kids. It’s a win-win situation right now, but the main thing is to win the fight and make history.”
Joshua, meanwhile, said: “Ruiz is a different kind of challenge but one I embrace. We have worked in the boxing gym week on week and whomever is put in front of me at Madison Square Garden on June 1 will be dispatched in style. The rent will be collected.
Promoter Eddie Hearn added: “After a tricky week I am delighted to announce Andy Ruiz Jr. as AJ’s opponent. People talk about fighting AJ, some even have to fill their bodies with PEDs to try and beat him up, but very few genuine fighters step up and take the challenge.
“When we selected the opponent, I wanted someone with fire in their heart, someone who genuinely believed that they can win and become World Heavyweight champion. Andy showed that desire.
“In my opinion, this is a tougher test than Jarrell Miller. Andy punches harder and is much faster – this is going to be a war. Andy brings Mexican heart but he will meet the best heavyweight in the world head on at the Garden.”
Joseph Markowski, DAZN executive vice-president, said: “Credit to Andy Ruiz Jr. for taking on this challenge. He said he wanted to fight for the World Heavyweight championship in 2019 and immediately backed up his words when given the opportunity.
“We’re also very happy to be working with a true champion like AJ, who told us he would fight anyone put in front of him – even on short notice. Clearly, he is a man of character who is committed to his craft, as well as his partners and the legions of fans traveling in from the UK to watch his US debut.”