It’s official: unified heavyweight titleholder Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) will be taking on Andy Ruiz Jr. (32-1, 21 KOs) on June 1st at Madison Square Garden as a replacement opponent for Jarrell Miller. Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn formally revealed the news yesterday, as reported by ESPN.
It had been well known that Ruiz was the leading candidate to land the fight, but it looks like we’ve officially got pen to paper with all the particulars sorted out. So speaking about this unexpected chance at multiple world titles, Ruiz says:
“The chills -- I’m really excited for this fight,” Ruiz said. “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 [Julio Cesar] Chavez, [Mike] Tyson, [Evander] 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 [to be] toe to toe, two guys smashing each other’s faces,” Ruiz said. “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.”
Hearn would chime in to take a quick shot at Jarrell Miller, who was pulled from the fight after he tested positive for several banned substances, by saying it was tricky finding a suitable replacement opponent for Joshua since some fighters have to ‘fill their bodies up with PEDs’ just to try to beat him up.
Heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz had his name thrown around as one potential opponent, but reportedly turned down a $5M offer to take the fight on short notice. Michael Hunter was also ruled out by Joshua’s team as they didn’t like the style match-up. Eventually it came down to just Ruiz and Trevor Bryan, with Ruiz ultimately getting the nod per Hearn’s preference.
Ruiz finished by saying that once he pulls off the upset, everything is going to change for him and his family. Should he pull it off, he’ll become the first Mexican heavyweight champion of the world.