NEW YORK — Anthony Joshua may be making his U.S. debut at Madison Square Garden against Andy Ruiz, but Deontay Wilder, a fighter who isn’t expected in New York this week, was a hot topic of discussion.
Prior to Thursday’s press conference, both principles in the IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight title fight were asked their opinion on Wilder’s controversial statement prior to his WBC title defense against Dominic Breazeale, when he said he was “still trying to get me a body on my record” and that he felt entitled to kill an opponent because of the nature of the sport.
Joshua (22-0, 21 knockouts) saw it from two different angles.
.@anthonyfjoshua and @Andy_destroyer1 give their opinions on @BronzeBomber saying he wants to kill an opponent #JoshuaRuiz pic.twitter.com/DEEeCQ46yy
— Ryan Songalia (@ryansongalia) May 31, 2019
“It’s two ends of it: kids watching, that’s not right,” said Joshua, before adding a caveat. “But when you had guys like Mike Tyson that were like…but Mike Tyson was true to who he was innit, he’ll probably tell you the same thing now.”
Joshua says it doesn’t seem like something Wilder truly believed, and didn’t come out as ferocious as Tyson’s proclamations, which included saying “if he doesn’t die it doesn’t count” prior to his first fight with Donovan “Razor” Ruddock.
“That’s the only difference I think, Wilder just said it in the heat of the moment and people are just saying think about what you’re saying. With Mike Tyson, he was just like, that was just what you get. That’s the difference with Wilder. If I go around and say I’m gonna kill someone you’re gonna say ‘that ain’t like Anthony, why’s he talking like that? He needs to be punished.’ Because it’s out of my character. I think it was a bit out of Wilder’s character to talk like that.”
(READ: Anthony Joshua feels no need to outdo Deontay Wilder in US debut)
Ruiz (32-1, 21 KOs) chalks it up to the animosity that Wilder and Breazeale have had for years, dating back to a 2017 incident in a hotel lobby when they fought on the same card in Wilder’s home state of Alabama.
“We have to be killers in there, we have to have that mentality,” said Ruiz. “Inside that ring, that’s what you’ve got to unleash.”
Wallace Matthews asked a follow-up question about whether he brings that same mindset to the ring.
“Yeah but I’m not the type of guy that is gonna say like ‘I’m gonna kill him.’ If anything I’m gonna pray to God and say for me to get the victory and for us to go back home with our families safely,” said Ruiz.
Joshua-Ruiz takes place this Saturday, live on DAZN in the United States. The undercard weigh-in begins at 3:30 p.m. ET on Friday, with the main event expected on the scales at 4 p.m.
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @ryansongalia.
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