Anthony Joshua looks set to face Andy Ruiz Jr at the close of 2019 in a bid to recapture his IBF, IBO, WBA (Super) and WBO heavyweight titles. The Watford-born star lost his titles in Madison Square Garden back on June 1 in one of the biggest upsets in recent memory.
Promoter Eddie Hearn has suggested that Cardiff is the front-runner to host the rematch with December 14 a likely date, reports say.
Former cruiserweight champion, Tony Bellew was in attendance when Joshua dropped his titles in New York thanks to a seventh-round stoppage.
In an exclusive interview with World Boxing News, Bellew revealed the implications for Joshua if he can’t win the rematch with Ruiz Jr.
“It’s the standout fight for the rest of the year as far as I’m concerned,” enthused Bellew. “You look at the first fight and how much drama was involved and the size of the upset. You have to wonder what is going to happen next. Not many people gave Andy Ruiz Jr a chance in the first fight. It’ll be different this time around. People now know that he’s a serious fighter and someone who has to be respected.
“Far too much was made of his shape and background last time out. So when he let his hands go and showed people what he was about, nobody could believe it. He proved to everyone just how good he is. It’ll be interesting to see what happens this winter when they’re likely to meet.”
With Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury set to meet again in early 2020 and Dillian Whyte – pending the outcome of his failed drugs test – also in the mix for a title shot, AJ needs to win to make sure he can get a piece of the most lucrative fights.
The heavyweight division has been accused of not giving the fans the fights they want, but now that it seems they are finally here, AJ is in danger of missing out on the glory and the cash. That is of course, only if he doesn’t win.
“He’s got no choice about where he goes next. We saw how hard he fought to get to the top of the heavyweight division. He did so by beating good men. He doesn’t start again just because he’s lost.
“Anthony is a world-class fighter with a world-class team. What he has to do next is go away and learn from his mistakes. He needs those titles back. If Ruiz goes into a fight with Deontay Wilder and someone has all four belts, Joshua is in a position where he could potentially be frozen out of the title picture and he won’t want that,” he concluded.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn announced at the weekend that the rematch with Ruiz Jr. would hold on December 14 in Cardiff, Wales.
Hearn says he will contact Ruiz’s team in the next few days to tell them the date, and the venue for where the Joshua-Ruiz rematch will take place in Cardiff. However, it’s no secret that Hearn wants to bring the fight to the Principality Stadium, in Cardiff.
“It’s the contractual obligations for Andy Ruiz that he has to fight a rematch,” said Hearn to Fighthub.
“He was allowed to fight for a world title out of nowhere. We picked him off of a list. So have the respect to honour what you agreed, which he will, by the way. I have no doubt he will. Andy Ruiz is a good guy. He’s a stand-up guy. He’s an honorable man, but he does have people in his ear, saying, ‘Don’t, blah-blah-blah.’ But again, everybody that signed the contract is aware of their obligations. I do believe the fight will take place on December 14th in Cardiff. We’ll have to see if this is finalized, but it’ll be finalized very soon,” said Hearn