Anthony Joshua has warned Andy Ruiz Jr that he wants to reacquaint himself with the world title belts when they meet on Wednesday “to see what I’m about to have in my possession”.
The tension will ramp up at the press conference, where Joshua and Ruiz Jr will go face to face ahead of Saturday’s heavyweight championship rematch, live on Sky Sports Box Office with ring-walks from 8.30pm.
Joshua, now-infamously, allowed his challenger to touch the title belts in the press conference prior to their first fight in New York six months ago, before then dramatically losing them inside the ring a few days later.
He later reflected: “In hindsight, I would probably tell my fighter, as a psychological thing: ‘don’t give them away’.”
Now entering as the challenger himself, Joshua exclusively told Sky Sports he hopes to inflict a mental blow on Ruiz Jr by touching the champion’s belts.
“Yes, why not,” he said. “They are heavy – that’s why I gave them to him, last time.
“But I haven’t had them around me for the past six months so yes, I would definitely take them to see what I’m about to have in my possession.
“I would shake his hand, we’re going to fight anyway. Sportsmanship… but come that first bell, I’ll take his head off.”
Joshua and Ruiz Jr did not interact on Monday night at their official arrival or at Tuesday’s workouts, and the champion questioned whether his challenger was avoiding him.
“I wanted to see him, I wanted to shake his hand, but I guess he didn’t want to see me,” Ruiz Jr told Sky Sports.