Hooker-Ramirez lightweight unification set for July 27

Maurice Hooker and Jose Ramirez will clash in a World Super-Lightweight unification clash on Saturday July 27 at the College Park Center in Arlington, Texas, live on DAZN in the US and on Sky Sports in the UK.

WBO champion Hooker (26-0-3 17 KOs) fights in his home state for the first time as a World champion having won the title in stunning fashion in Oklahoma in November, getting off the canvas to KO Alex Saucedo in his backyard, the widely outpointing Mikkel LesPierre in his first defense in Verona, New York in March.

WBC ruler Ramirez (24-0 16 KOs) puts his belt on the line for the third time having landed the vacant strap in March 2018 against Amir Imam in New York. The 2012 Olympian handed a first defeat to Antonio Orozco in his first defense at home in September at the Save Mart Arena in Fresno, California, and then edged a majority decision against Jose Zepeda in February in the same venue.

“First of all I want to thank my promoters Matchroom Boxing and Roc Nation for getting me this opportunity,” said Hooker. “I’m proud to display my skills on DAZN – the best boxing platform out there. I’d also like to thank my team who are with me every step of the way. I want to show the world that I’m the best in the 140 lb. division. My dream is to become the undisputed champion in my weight class. This unification fight with Jose Ramirez is a major step towards that goal.

“Training camp for Team Mighty Mo Hooker is well underway and I’ll be at my absolute best on July 27 to take the green belt from Ramirez. It will be a thrill to do this in front of my home crowd and I’m looking forward to the energy they’ll bring to the ring. I am a dream killer, and Ramirez will be my next victim coming July 27.”

“I am ready for my opportunity to unify the titles,” said Ramirez. “To get the opportunity to be a unified champion is a blessing for me. I’m thankful to Bob Arum and Top Rank for believing in me to go out there and get the job done. I’m going to push myself hard to make the team proud.”

“This is a fight I wanted. I told my manager, Rick Mirigian, that I wanted to fight Maurice Hooker. I know this fight can take my career to the next level. I want to continue making statements at 140 pounds. I want to make it easier for people to decide who the best 140-pounder truly is.

“I’m treating this fight the same as when I won the title in New York City against Amir Imam. He was the taller fighter, the bigger fighter. It’s sometimes easier fighting someone in his backyard because it takes away some of my responsibilities behind the scenes. As the underdog, I have everything to win. It’s not just about defending my title but unifying the division as well. I’m ready to prove myself and show everyone what Jose Ramirez is all about. I can’t wait to bring Hooker’s title back with me to California.”

“I’m delighted to announce this excellent unification match-up between two great champions in Maurice Hooker and Jose Ramirez,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “These are the fights that boxing needs and the styles will gel into a real fight of the year contender. Both champions believe they have the edge in this fight, tune in July 27 on DAZN to find out comes out on top.”

“This looks like a terrific battle, and I’m predicting that our guy, Jose Ramirez, will emerge as the unified champion,” said Top Rank’s Bob Arum.

“This is a big fight for Maurice and our team,” said Roc Nation’s Dino Duva. We have been looking forward to it since he became a champion – a title unification match in his hometown, doesn’t get any better for a fighter and his team. Mighty Mo will seize this opportunity to win over the hearts of the great Mexican boxing fans. A victory over a fantastic champion like Jose Ramirez will catapult Mighty Mo into superstar pound for pound status! Big thank you and congrats to DAZN and Matchroom Boxing for stepping up and putting this unification match together. Additional thanks to Top Rank, Ramirez promoter for making it work. This is what great boxing is about.”

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Lopez-Nakatani set for July 19

Teofimo Lopez is one win away from a shot at fulfilling his world title destiny. Standing in his way is fellow unbeaten Masayoshi Nakatani, who is intent on spoiling his plans.

Lopez and Nakatani will lock horns in a 12-round IBF lightweight world title eliminator Friday, July 19 at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland. The Lopez-Nakatani winner will be the mandatory challenger for the victor of the June 28 ESPN-televised bout between IBF champion Richard Commey and Ray Beltran.

In the highly anticipated chief support bout — also a battle of unbeatens — Maxim “Mad Max” Dadashev will take on Puerto Rican puncher Subriel Matias in a 12-round IBF junior welterweight world title eliminator for the belt currently held by Josh Taylor.

Lopez-Nakatani and Dadashev-Matias will stream live and exclusively on ESPN+, the leading multi-sport streaming service, beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. The combatants in this special doubleheader have a combined 57-0 record with 47 knockouts.

The undercard, including the 10-round super featherweight contest between the unbeaten Erick De Leon and former world champion Jason Sosa, will stream on ESPN+ beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.

Promoted by Top Rank, tickets for this world championship event priced at $100, $75, $50 and $25 (not including applicable fees) go on sale Friday, June 7 at 10 a.m. ET and can be purchased online at ticketmaster.com or in person at the MGM National Harbor.

“I’m excited to come back, especially for my first headlining bout, one of many to come,” Lopez said. “After Nakatani, you will see me face the winner of Richard Commey and Ray Beltran. If you think you’ve seen it all, you haven’t. My goal is to be a worldwide star, and Nakatani is not going to stop me. Expect another badass knockout, and rest assured, I have something special planned for the celebration. For this fight, we’re doing a nine-week training camp, and I am going to be in the best shape of my career.

“The Takeover is coming July 19 to MGM National Harbor!”

“This fight is just a stop on the way to becoming world champion,” Nakatani said. “I hope all boxing fans in Japan and around the world will enjoy what I bring to the table.”

Lopez (13-0, 11 KOs), ranked No. 4 by the IBF, was born in Brooklyn, raised in Florida, and represented his parents’ native Honduras at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The 21-year-old’s rise up the professional ranks has been meteoric, as he made his debut on a Manny Pacquiao undercard in November 2016 and was the consensus 2018 Prospect of the Year. In 2019, he’s graduated to contender status. He knocked out former world title challenger Diego Magdaleno in seven brutal rounds Feb. 2 in Frisco, Texas. Lopez returned April 20 as the pay-per-view co-feature to the Terence Crawford-Amir Khan bout at Madison Square Garden. He thrilled the hometown fans, knocking out two-time European lightweight champion Edis Tatli in five rounds.

Nakatani (18-0, 12 KOs), from Osaka, Japan, is ranked No. 3 by the IBF and has gone the 12-round distance five times. He has held the OBPF lightweight title since 2014 and has made 11 successful defenses of that belt. Nakatani has won four in a row via knockout, and against Lopez, he will be making his first ring appearance outside of Japan.

Dadashev (13-0, 11 KOs) is a three-year pro who has made a seamless transition to the pro game. A former amateur standout for his native Russia, he won a reported 281 bouts in the unpaid ranks before turning pro under the guidance of famed manager Egis Klimas. Dadashev holds victories over former world champions Antonio DeMarco and Darleys Perez and has won nine of his last ten by knockout. He made his 2019 debut March 23 in Costa Mesa, California, knocking out Ricky Sismundo in four rounds. Matias (13-0, 13 KOs), a southpaw from Fajardo, Puerto Rico, has blown through his competition with ease, as seven of his fights have ended in the first or second round. He made his American debut last October in New Orleans, blowing away former two-division world title challenger Fernando Saucedo in one round.

“It doesn’t matter who I fight or where I fight. I am looking forward to the opportunity in front of me,” Dadashev said. “Matias is a dangerous fighter, but I am ready for whatever he brings. I have fought every kind of style as an amateur and a professional, and all of my experiences have led me to this fight.”

Sosa (22-3-4, 15 KOs), from Camden, New Jersey, upset Javier Fortuna in June 2016 to win the WBA world super featherweight title. He made one successful title before relinquishing his belt to pound-for-pound great Vasiliy Lomachenko. Sosa has won a pair of fights since a controversial decision loss to Yuriorkis Gamboa and knows that a win over De Leon (19-0-1, 11 KOs) will move him closer to another crack at the brass ring.

De Leon, a Detroit product, was a top U.S. amateur who won three consecutive National Golden Gloves championships (2009-11). He turned away Adrian Yung via unanimous decision last July in New Orleans, winning despite injuring his right shoulder in the opening round. De Leon returned to action March 23 in Costa Mesa, California, knocking out Jose Luis Gallegos in seven rounds.

Harrison withdraws from Charlo fight due to ankle injury; Charlo will face Jorge Cota on 6/23

WBC junior middleweight champion Tony Harrison injured his ankle in training last week and has withdrawn from his title defense against former world champion Jermell Charlo that was scheduled to headline FOX PBC Fight Night on FOX and FOX Deportes Sunday, June 23 at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

Harrison has an inner and outer ankle sprain with torn ligaments in his right ankle and he will be out for 10 weeks before he can resume training. Harrison and Charlo plan to have their rematch later this year.

Stepping in to replace Harrison for a 12-round fight is the always dangerous Jorge Cota (28-3, 25 KOs), who most recently lost a disputed split-decision in April on FS1 against Jeison Rosario. The 31-year old from Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico had scored three straight knockout victories before the defeat in April.

The 29-year-old Charlo will now have to wait for his opportunity to avenge the only loss of his career and regain his title against Harrison. Fighting out of Houston, Texas, Charlo won the vacant WBC title with a devastating knockout victory over John Jackson in 2016. He made three successful defenses of the title with highlight-reel knockouts over Charles Hatley and Erickson Lubin, plus a majority decision win over former champion Austin Trout.

Harrison’s injury is the latest twist in the 154-pound division that started last December when Harrison and Charlo’s first encounter took place live on FOX. Harrison won the decision to upset Charlo and take away the title. The close nature of the bout helped warrant an immediate rematch that promises to be just as highly charged and dramatic. Julian “J-Rock” Williams scored a hard-fought unanimous decision over Jarrett Hurd as the IBF and WBA titles changed hands as well in May.

This setback for Harrison, who is from Detroit and was trained early in his career by the late Emanuel Steward, is another challenge for the 28-year-old champion. Harrison was on track for a title shot before suffering the first loss of his career in 2015 to Willie Nelson. After three-straight wins, he earned a shot at the vacant 154-pound title against Jarrett Hurd. Although Harrison had strong moments in the fight, he eventually lost to Hurd and was forced to again climb to the top. After another three victories, including a win over former champion Ishe Smith, Harrison took advantage of his second world title opportunity against Charlo

Twitter reacts to Andy Ruiz’s stunning victory over Anthony Joshua

In a total shocker, Andy Ruiz(33-1, 22 KOs) Jr. stops Anthony Joshua(33-1, 21 KOs) in round 7 to capture Joshua’s three belts at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Saturday night.

It was Joshua’s first time fighting on American soil, and the first time he suffered a loss as a pro. With the victory, Ruiz becomes the first Mexican-American heavyweight champion in the history of boxing.

After the fight, Twitter reacted.

Here is a sampling:

Photo: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing UK

 

Toronto boxer Steve Rolls: ‘Triple G is going to face boxing’s version of Kawhi Leonard on June 8’

Inspired by the Raptors run to the NBA Championship Finals, undefeated Top-10 contender Steve Rolls is determined to give his hometown of Toronto another reason to cheer.  Like the Raptors, who are ahead 1-0 in their challenge of the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors (Rolls attended Game 1), Rolls will be the underdog when he faces boxing’s pound-for-pound superstar attraction Gennadiy “GGG” Golovkin, who successfully defended his middleweight titles a record 20 consecutive times — 18 by knockout.

Golovkin and Rolls will go mano a mano in a 12-round rumble, which will be contested at a maximum weight of 164  pounds and streamed live on DAZN, next Saturday, June 8, from the Mecca of Boxing, Madison Square Garden.

“You can look at me as an underdog but in my mind, I’m the best investment this side of Wall Street,” said Rolls (19-0, 10 KOs).  “Triple G is going to face boxing’s version of Kawhi Leonard on June 8.”

“Boxing is no game,” responded Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs), from Karaganda, Kazakhstan.  “I want a war. I have trained for a war.  That’s why boxing fans enjoy the Big Drama Show.  I come to fight.”

The Raptors have a better chance of beating the Warriors than Rolls does of defeating Golovkin, but anything can happen.

Heavyweight Joseph Parker signs with Matchroom Boxing

Matchroom Boxing have signed a three-fight promotional deal with Heavyweight star Joseph Parker.

Parker will fight for the first time with Matchroom Boxing USA on June 29 in Providence, Rhode Island on the undercard of the Demetrius Andrade’s WBO Middleweight world title defense against Poland’s Maciej Sulecki, live on DAZN in the US and on Sky Sports in the UK.

Team Parker also announce today that David Higgins has been appointed to Joseph Parker’s management team.

The bout marks the beginning of the second phase of Parker’s career – and the start of the road to becoming the undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the world.

“My six-year promotional contract with Duco Events ended on March 26,” said Parker. “It was a wonderfully successful partnership – so much so that David Higgins will always be part of my team, advocating in my best interests in a management capacity.

“Since my contract with Duco ended I have been a free agent, with my team and I spending several months assessing how to best achieve my goal of not only becoming a World Champion again, but unifying all of the belts to become the undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the world.”

Parker said he and his management team conducted a robust process that included seeking offers from boxing’s most prominent promoters.

“Ultimately we decided that the best option was to partner with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing. We believe the three-fight deal that we are announcing today will be the start of a long and successful partnership.”

Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn said he had no doubt Parker could once again become Heavyweight Champion of the world.

“If Joseph Parker performs the way we all know he can over these next three fights then he will have a strong case for some huge fights,” Hearn said. “Parker is a young man with a great mix of experience and ambition, and this is a really exciting signing for Matchroom.

“And, I must say, I am also looking forward to sparring again with my old mate David Higgins as we haggle over the terms of each deal for Joseph. David unquestionably has Joseph’s best interests at heart and he is a tough negotiator, so there are going to be some interesting discussions ahead.”

Higgins said: “This is absolutely the right decision for Joseph and Team Parker, which I have supported every step of the way. I’m pleased that I can now work with Joseph’s existing management team to help carefully guide the remainder of his career.”

Higgins confirmed the creation of a new company, Sports Advisory and Management Limited, with his business partner Rachael Carroll, a former international pole vaulter.

The company will manage and advise a stable of talented athletes, he said.

The fight will be streamed on DAZN in the US and available on Sky Sports UK. Negotiations are underway for live broadcast rights in New Zealand.

ENDS

Jermall Charlo: ‘My goal is to make quick work of Brandon and show him that there are levels to this’

Unbeaten WBC Interim Middleweight Champion and Houston-native Jermall Charlo went face to face with middleweight contender Brandon Adams Thursday at a press conference in Charlo’s hometown to preview their showdown Saturday, June 29 live on SHOWTIME (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) from NRG Arena and presented by Premier Boxing Champions.

In the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® main event, Charlo will fight in Houston for the first time since 2012, as he looks to further cement his place amongst the middleweight elite against Adams, who shot up the 160-pound rankings by winning the 2018 reboot of The Contender.

Here is what the press conference participants had to say Thursday from Hotel ZaZa Museum District in Houston:

JERMALL CHARLO

“Me and my brother Jermell have been through so much in boxing. We’ve been doing it since we were eight-years-old. To make it to this world class level and to do it for Houston, it feels great.

“It’s going to be fireworks. I’m coming for the knockout every time. Houston is hot and the heat is going to be there fight night. I’m going to do what I normally do and give the crowd excitement.

“Ronnie Shields has changed me from being a kid to realizing who I am as a man in the sport of boxing. He’s had world champions before me so I know he can judge my progression. He’s going to make sure I stay at this level.

“I’m walking in the ring and I’m handling my business. This is definitely a step up fight for Brandon Adams, but I’m only worried about what I have to do. I’m just going to prepare to be my best. We’re going to both give it our all and I will be victorious.

“Boxing is about experiences and I’m still learning. I’m going to have my ups and downs, because no fighter is perfect. But I will always prepare myself well and that’s why I’m still undefeated. I needed a fight like my last one to get even better.

“I’m going to finish this fight. My goal is to make quick work of Brandon and show him that there are levels to this. You might be a contender, but it’s another thing to be a champion.

“I get a lot of juice from the hometown crowd. Just having my family there alone is what I really need to get the nerves and excitement to where I need them. I’m going to be comfortable and I’m going to stick to my game plan. I’m not here to make mistakes.

“Thus far camp has been great. I feel awesome and I’m well prepared. It’s an amazing feeling to be fighting in my hometown. It’s almost a dream come true to me. To have my own card at this level and on this stage, it shows the support Houston has for me.”

BRANDON ADAMS

“I appreciate the opportunity I have to step into the ring with this man across from me. I’m super excited about it and I can’t wait. These are two top fighters getting in the ring and we’re going to give the fans a show.

“It’s not just what I see in Jermall, it’s what I believe in myself. The combo of working with Dub Huntley and Freddie Roach is perfect. They are both seasoned vets and they teach me something new every day.

“I didn’t expect my road to be easy because it’s never been easy for me. I’m on the road and I understand that. I’m prepared to pack my bags and go wherever I need to, so that I can become what I’m supposed to become. The best man will win on June 29.

“Before The Contender I felt that I didn’t have an opportunity to show how good I am. During the whole series it was about getting back in the ring and shaking off the rust, then showcasing who I am.

“Winning The Contender helped get me here, but I always had confidence and believed in myself since day one. In choosing to accept Charlo’s challenge, I had it in my mind that I belong here.

“It was pressure every time I fought on The Contender. Each round were quality opponents leading up to the final and all of that will prepare me for Charlo. He deserves everything he’s gotten and I respect him as a man, but I’m going to take advantage of this opportunity.

“His team didn’t have to fight me, but they chose to. I appreciate his fans coming out to support him because they’ll see both of us. Hopefully I can win some of them over.”

Photo: Andrew King/SHOWTIME

Joshua: ‘Fighting Andy(Ruiz) for me is just as dangerous as fighting Wilder or Fury’

Unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua(22-0. 21 KOs) will make his much anticipated American debut on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden against Andy Ruiz(.32-1, 21 KOs).

Obviously, Joshua wants to impress because it’s his first time fighting on American soil. Also, after what we saw Deontay Wilder do to Dominic Breazeale(first-round KO) two weeks ago, Joshua might feel the pressure to look spectacular on June 1. However, Ruiz is no slouch. In his only loss, many believed he beat Joseph Parker in their matchup from 2016, and according to Joshua, Ruiz is someone he knows he has to take seriously.

“Fighting Andy for me is just as dangerous as fighting Wilder or (Tyson)Fury because they both possess their own skills, so I have to take Andy deadly serious,” Joshua said at a press conference today. “I don’t overlook him at all, I respect him and respect his team, and I really respect he put his name on the dotted line to take this challenge. No challenge is easy, no matter what the bookers are telling you or the odd makers. Andy is going to come in here and give me a real good fight and cause problems, and it’s down to me as a champion to think smart, box clever, outbox, out strength, and outmuscle Andy Ruiz to get that win.

“No fight like after the fight when your hands are raised, your opponent has been defeated and thinking about being on a beach, or being with your family, and focus on the next challenge ahead. Right now I’m only champion till June 1 when I have to defend my titles. I’m currently the heavyweight champion of the world, but June 1 I put them in the air, and they’re up for grabs. Let the best man win.”

Comparing Ruiz to Fury and Wilder is a little bit of a stretch, but Joshua has to sell the fight, so I get it. In boxing, you have to take all of your opponents seriously because anything can happen. But, if Joshua is who we think he is, he should walk out of that ring on Saturday night still undefeated and still a champion.

Photo: Ed Muholland

Jesse Hart-Sullivan Barrera added to Fury-Schwarz

Jesse “Hollywood” Hart and Sullivan Barrera understand high stakes and are coming to Las Vegas, intent on cashing in with a potential world title shot on the line. Hart and Barrera will square off in a 10-round light heavyweight bout Saturday, June 15 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Hart-Barrera will serve as the co-feature to lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury’s title defense against unbeaten German challenger Tom Schwarz.

Fury-Schwarz and Hart-Barrera will stream live in the United States exclusively on ESPN+ — the leading multi-sport streaming service – beginning at 10 p.m. EST/7 p.m. PST.

The undercard will be televised on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes beginning at 7:00 p.m. EST/4:00 p.m. PST and will showcase undefeated 2016 Olympian Mikaela Mayer (10-0, 4 KOs), who will fight former world title challenger Lizbeth Crespo (13-4, 3 KOs) in a 10-round super featherweight bout.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions and SES Boxing, tickets priced at $500, $300, $100 and $50 are on sale now can be purchased online through axs.com, charge by phone at 866-740-7711 or in person at any MGM Resorts box office.

On June 15, I’m coming to knock him out,” Hart said. “I refuse to lose. This is a legacy fight. I want the big names. I need a big name, and Barrera is the name. I don’t want to just win and coast to some boring decision. I’m coming to prove to the world that I can fight with these bigger guys. After I knock Barrera out, I’m coming for all the champions. The light heavyweights better watch out because ‘Hollywood’ Hart is here.”

“I am excited to face Jesse Hart, a great fighter who has also been in there with world champions,” Barrera said. “This is a must-win fight. Simple as that. Camp has been great for me, and I am looking forward to June 15. It’s going to be a great card, and I am going to show everyone in Las Vegas and watching on ESPN+ what I’m truly made of.”

Hart (25-2, 21 KOs) had two cracks at the WBO super middleweight world title, losing a pair of close decisions to longtime champion Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez. The Ramirez rematch, which took place last December in Corpus Christi, Texas, was a bruising affair that saw Hart rally in the second half before losing a majority decision. Eleven of Hart’s last 12 victories have come via knockout, and he hopes to carry that power up to the light heavyweight ranks. The Philadelphia native fought on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao undercard in 2015 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, knocking out Mike Jimenez in six rounds.

Barrera (22-2, 14 KOs), from Cuba, defected to the United States in 2009 and turned pro later that year. The Miami-based bruiser won the first 17 bouts of his career before dropping a decision to pound-for-pound great Andre Ward. A perennial contender, Barrera holds victories over Joe Smith Jr., Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, Karo Murat and former super middleweight world champion Jeff Lacy. He challenged Dmitry Bivol for a light heavyweight world title last year and fought valiantly before being stopped in the 12th and final round.

Mayer is one of female boxing’s rising stars and has dominated her opposition as a professional. She went 6-0 in 2018, winning the NABF belt on August 25 with a shutout decision over the previously undefeated Vanessa Bradford. She made her 2019 debut February 15 in Hinckley, Minnesota, outclassing Yareli Larios over eight rounds. Crespo fought IBF featherweight world champion Jennifer Han in February 2018, dropping a tightly contested unanimous decision.

“It’s been a dream of mine to see women fighting alongside marquee names like Tyson Fury, and I’m grateful to be fighting at the MGM Grand on June 15,” Mayer said. “There’s still a lot the world hasn’t seen when it comes to my style and I’m ready to show everyone something special.”

In addition to Mayer-Crespo, the ESPN2/ESPN Deportes undercard broadcast will also include the following fights:

  • Guido “The Gladiator” Vianello (3-0, 3 KOs), a 6-foot-6 heavyweight who represented his native Italy at the 2016 Rio Olympics, will return in a six-rounder.
  • Featherweight Isaac Lowe (17-0-3, 6 KOs), a stablemate of Fury’s, will fight an opponent to be named in a 10-rounder.
  • Top super middleweight prospect Cem “Champ” Kilic (13-0, 8 KOs) will see action in an eight-rounder against an opponent to be determined.
  • Sonny Conto (2-0, 2 KOs), as big-punching heavyweight from Philadelphia, will make his Las Vegas debut in a four-rounder. Conto’s two professional fights — both first-round knockouts — have lasted a total of 3:30.
  • German heavyweight prospect Peter Kadiru (3-0, 1 KO) will fight an opponent to be named in a six-rounder.

Ruiz: ‘I’m going to pull out the upset’

Andy Ruiz Jr. says he is ready to shock the world by ripping the WBA Super, IBF, WBO and IBO Heavyweight World titles from Anthony Joshua this Saturday June 1 at Madison Square Garden in New York, live on DAZN in the US and Sky Sports Box Office in the UK.

The California man has stepped into the breach after original challenger Jarrell Miller failed multiple drugs tests, and can now create history by becoming Mexico’s first ever Heavyweight ruler by upsetting unified champion Joshua on his big US debut.

Ruiz is being overlooked by many, but the 29-year-old is relishing being the underdog for his “dream opportunity” and believes being written off could work in his favour as he looks to become a Heavyweight champ at the second time of asking.

“It just gives me more motivation all the guys talking crap,” said Ruiz. “I don’t know if they are mad because I have got this opportunity, but I don’t have anything bad to say about anyone, I talk in the ring with my fists. I’m so mentally strong and prepared for this fight that I don’t care what people have to say.

“A lot of people underestimate me, like I said, the way I look, my appearance, but as soon as they see me throw punches, I’m going to pull out the upset. This is what I have worked for my whole life, I’m here to take what Anthony has. I’m ready to shock the world.

“People will see what I can do. It’s going to be an all action fight, with two big guys punching each other in the face, hard. I’m in this to win it. Everyone else that has fought him has lost before they get in there, I’m not thinking like that, and that’s the difference.

“The most important thing is to win and prove to the fans that I belong at this elite level. I’m not going to chase the KO but I know that it’s there if I execute my combinations. I’m feeling good and ready, AJ hasn’t boxed for nine months and I’m sharper than ever and very motivated.”

“He’s big, but the advantages I have are in speed, movement and coming forward. Everyone AJ fights is scared. I’m not scared of anyone apart from the man upstairs. There’s a lot of doubters out there but I don’t care, they only give me more motivation and confidence.”

Joshua and Ruiz collide on a huge night of action at Madison Square Garden with Irish sensation Katie Taylor clashing with Delfine Persoon for the undisputed Women’s World Lightweight championship, Callum Smith defending his WBA World ‘Super’, WBC Diamond and Ring Magazine Super-Middleweight titles against Hassan N’Dam, Josh Kelly making his US debut as he defends his WBA International Welterweight title against Philadelphia’s Ray Robinson, Joshua Buatsi defending his WBA International Light-Heavyweight title against Marco Antonio Periban, Chris Algieri defending his WBO International title against Britain’s Tommy Coyle in a crunch Super-Lightweight showdown, Olympic bronze medallist Souleymane Cissokho taking on Mexico’s Vladimir Hernandez, Texas Middleweight Austin ‘Ammo’ Williams fighting in his second pro contest and LA Middleweight Diego Pacheco looking to move to 4-0.

Photo/Courtesy: Ed Mullohand