Joshua: Ruiz Not First Choice to Replace Miller

WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua says while he sees Andy Ruiz Jr. as a good opponent for their title clash at New York’s Madison Square Garden next week, he wasn’t Joshua’s first choice to replace original challenger Jarrell Miller.

Joshua had not heard about “Big Baby” Miller’s failed drug tests until the morning after the news broke. The details of the matter were not important to the unified heavyweight champion, however. He was more concerned over who would be replacing Miller on June 1, which marks Joshua’s U.S. debut.

Joshua says he and promoter Eddie Hearn first explored, and preferred, options like Luis Ortiz and WBA “Regular” heavyweight champion and mandatory challenger Manuel Charr. Joshua, however, credited Ruiz as being the easiest to negotiate with.

“When we looked at it, the first opportunity was Luis Ortiz because he was the most credible,” Joshua said in a recent media conference call. “This is a massive event at Madison Square Garden. Miller made sense [born and raised in Brooklyn], so we needed a big name who’d been at the world level and Ortiz fit the bill. But he turned it down.

The next one was Manuel Charr…the thing with Ruiz, he was the one who put his name on the contract.”

Despite the process to determine a new opponent, Joshua continued his training camp uninterrupted. This will be Joshua’s seventh world title defense. He claimed the IBF championship with an April 2016 knockout of Charles Martin, the WBA and IBO titles with an 11th-round finish of Wladimir Klitschko in April 2017 and the WBO title with a March 2018 decision win over Joseph Parker.

Ruiz accepted the fight just one week after knocking out Alexander Dimitrenko as part of an April 20 Premier Boxing Champions card in California. Ruiz’s sole loss in his 33 fights came back in December 2016, when he and Parker fought for the WBO title that was vacated by Tyson Fury. Parker edged out Ruiz via a razor-thin majority decision. It had been the only time Ruiz has challenged for a major boxing world championship.

“Ruiz is a good challenger and he’s been at the world level before,” Joshua said. “When he fought Parker, he wanted to win. When they fight me, they want to knock me out.”

Original Story: Boxing Scene

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