Andy Ruiz Jr is set to be named as the late challenger to fight Anthony Joshua. The Briton defends his WBA(super), IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight titles at Madison Square Garden in New York on June 1st.
The Olympic gold medallist last defended his belts against Alexander Povetkin in September, taking his record to 22-0 with 21 knockouts and is making his much anticipated United States debut.
Ruiz holds a record of 32-1 with 21 knockouts. His sole defeat came at the hands of Joseph Parker for the WBO heavyweight title, in a fight most people believed he won and now he gets a second deserved shot at glory.
He fought last against Alexander Dimitrenko on April 20th and immediately called out the best fighters in the division, stating that he would have “no problems” stepping in against Joshua at short notice.
He had been scheduled to face unbeaten Jarrell Miller, but Miller was denied a licence and suspended by the New York State Athletic Commission after several failed tests for performance-enhancing drugs. He has since apologised.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn had been looking at replacements including former cruiserweight world title challenger Michael Hunter and unbeaten contender Adam Kownacki, who both felt the fight date was too soon.
Former heavyweight world title challenger Luis Ortiz was the obvious choice but he also rejected the offer with Joshua, also citing a money issue. The Cuban has won three straight fights since his sole defeat to Deontay Wilder.
WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder defends his belt against Dominic Breazeale on May 18th in New York, Whilst Lineal champion and fellow Brit Tyson Fury faces Tom Schwarz on June 15th in Las Vegas.
Wilder and Fury are set to met in a rematch of December’s stunning but controversial draw later in the year and long-term rival Dillian Whyte faces Oscar Rivas on July 20th in London, all with the hopes of fighting AJ.
The road to becoming undisputed for Joshua is continuing with his four of the sanctioned five belts on the line against Ruiz, but this tough Mexican is not to be overlooked as he attempts to cause one of the biggest upsets in recent boxing history.