RIYADH – Heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. said Monday that all the pressure will be on dethroned champion Anthony Joshua in their contentious showdown in Saudi Arabia.
Ruiz caused one of boxing’s biggest upsets in New York in June when he handed Joshua a first defeat to win the WBA, IBF and WBO crowns in New York.
The pair will fight the rematch on Saturday in Diriyah, close to the Saudi capital Riyadh, in a hotly anticipated contest dubbed “Clash on the Dunes.”
“We’ve got to see where he’s at because all the pressure is on him. The pressure isn’t on me because I followed my dream, made my dreams come true,” Ruiz said in Riyadh.
“Of course I want more though — I want the legacy of Andy Ruiz Jr.”
Joshua said he was “comfortable” and “very relaxed” ahead of the rematch.
“I am just going to win. I know I can do it,” Joshua said.
“I was this close last time, so next time I won’t mess up.”
Saturday’s bout is mired in controversy. The Saudis have faced intense diplomatic fallout over last year’s murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the conservative kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.
Ruiz, however, said he was “happy to be here in Saudi Arabia.”
“It feels really good. I feel at home you know. Everybody has been treating me with love and especially enjoying the really good food that they have in this country,” he said.
Activists accuse Saudi rulers of using sports as a tool to try and soften their international image.
In February, they hosted a first European Tour golf event while the world’s most gruelling motor sports race, the Dakar Rally, will be held in the country in 2020.