Nigeria’s Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr faced off for the first time in Saudi Arabia ahead of their rematch in December.
A lengthy press conference saw both heavyweights speak for only a few minutes each, before the traditional staredown.
It is the first time the rivals have seen each other in the flesh since Ruiz Jr pulled off his stunning underdog victory over Joshua last June at Madison Square Garden.
An ice-cold Joshua kept his eyes focused on Ruiz Jr, who was holding the three major world titles he stripped from the British star. Ruiz Jr shifted his weight a few times in front of Joshua, but neither man gave much away during a tense face-off.
Once the staredown was finished, Joshua relaxed and began smiling and speaking to Ruiz Jr, even appearing to crack a joke a one stage.
Joshua was subdued during the press conference, but promised Ruiz Jr his reign an unified champion would be short.
‘I was up against a good challenger. Andy is champion now,’ Joshua said during the press conference. That will last until December 7 when he puts his titles in the air. Two warriors to go war and the best man will walk out victorious. Being a champion is more than the belts. It’s about a championship mindset. The belts will go up in the air and we will fight for them again.’
Ruiz Jr acknowledged Joshua’s renewed hunger, but insisted he had zero intention of being a one-fight wonder.
‘December 7, I know Anthony Joshua is coming hard, he’s coming strong,’ Ruiz said. ‘He’s preparing hard, but so am I. There’s a lot of responsibilities. I’m going to try my best. I’m going to keep those belts and I’m going to have them back in Mexico.
I’m going to win here in the same fashion that I won on June 1. The hunger still remains. I don’t want 15 minutes of fame. I want it to last. Two big heavyweights punching each other in the face, it’s going to be exciting.’
Joshua and Ruiz Jr now jet off to New York for another press conference on Thursday and will close out their world press tour in London on Friday.Photo Credit: Getty