WORLD heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua will defend his titles against Mexican-American Andy Ruiz at Madison Square Garden on June 1 as plans for a unification fight with World Boxing Council (WBC) champion Deontay Wilder appear to have faltered.
After beating New Zealander Joseph Parker in Cardiff in April last year, Joshua became the holder of the World Boxing Organisation (WBO), World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF) and International Boxing Organisation (IBO) belts. he had planned to fight Wilder and acquire all five belts in the division but talks over the unification bout have been bogged down by money disputes.
Joshua had wanted American Wilder to accept a $15m offer to face him to determine who is the undisputed world heavyweight champion in front of a 100,000 crowd at Wembley Stadium on April 13. However, Wilder is more interested in a rematch with fellow American Tyson Fury, forcing Joshua to look elsewhere.
Ruiz Jr, 29, who will be bidding to become Mexico’s first heavyweight world champion, replaces Joshua’s originally scheduled opponent Jarrell Miller, who was barred from fighting after failing a drugs tests. Looking forward to the fight, Ruiz said his heroes are Mexican great Julio Cesar Chavez, a world champion in several lighter classes and former heavyweight world champions Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis.
He added: “I’m really excited for this fight. 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. I’m going to bring the titles back to Mexico and I’m going to be able to change my whole family’s lives, my life and all my kids.”
Ruiz has won 32 of his 33 professional bouts, with his only defeat coming in a world title challenge against New Zealand’s Joseph Parker. Joshua, 29, who has won all of his 22 fights, will be fighting in the US for the first time and defending his WBA, IBF, WBO belts.
Joshua added: “Ruiz is a different kind of challenge but one I embrace. We have worked in the boxing gym week on week and whoever is put in front of me at Madison Square Garden on June 1 will be dispatched in style.”