Senior Boxing Journalist @JamesDielhenn
Joshua vs Ruiz Jr: Anthony Joshua will make Andy Ruiz Jr pay after freeing himself from Deontay Wilder worries
Last Updated: 31/05/19 3:32pm
This time a fortnight ago Deontay Wilder was bearing his teeth, growling and barking out threats but Anthony Joshua is approaching this crescendo of their careers in a far more calculating manner.
Thrust into the centre of New York, the city where Wilder has been shouting from the rooftops and producing results to back up his boasting, Joshua is cutting a remarkably poised figure. All this, surely, must be bad news for Andy Ruiz Jr.
Joshua might have been forgiven for stampeding into Thursday night's press conference, the first time he has locked eyes with Saturday night's challenger Ruiz Jr, keen to relieve some pressure as his seventh title defence approaches. That pressure might have been quadrupled by Wilder's revelation that he doesn't intend on agreeing their much vaunted undisputed title fight until next year, at best, yet Joshua appeared liberated by his rival's news.
"Credibility in the division comes from who is calling who out, rather than who is fighting! I don't need to be negative towards him," Joshua said, while also imploring Wilder not to "rob the fans" and agree the fight that the entire sport awaits with baited breath.
"What can I do? Hopefully he comes to his senses and comes to see us."
Joshua hasn't always been so carefree with 48 hours left until a fight.
Against Alexander Povetkin he was snappy, unshaven and, it later transpired, ill. Against Joseph Parker he was intensely focused and against Wladimir Klitschko, he was visibly walking into the biggest moment of his career. For some reason now, he is calmer.
"Saturday night is about positive energy," he said. "I can add my 11 years of boxing into one, and move into the next phase. I am a dominant force.
"Before, I was boxing under pressure. I didn't want to lose or get hit. I was scared of losing, because of everything we have worked for.
"Now I will go in there, and show everyone how good I am."
Perhaps Wilder's latest insistence that he will not fight Joshua until at least next year has actually relieved pressure, instead of piling it on, as was probably intended.
The IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion offered a glimpse into how he has refused to be weighed down by the intensity of the talk about an undisputed world title fight.
"Boxing is just a title. The underlying factor is discipline and dealing with pressure. It's about building as a person, not just a fighter."
PLEASE COME! @anthonyfjoshua met some local children and invited them to Madison Square Garden on Saturday... but the heavyweight champ still had a bit of work to do! 😂— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) May 30, 2019
📺 AJ v Andy Ruiz Jr LIVE on Sky Sports Box Office - BUY HERE 👉 https://t.co/8dhOERDJYq pic.twitter.com/0OUdaBFT4D
This is a superstar descending onto Madison Square Garden, the world's most famous arena, at the peak of his powers but no longer beholden to a fight that hasn't yet happened. He has already opened the New York Stock Exchange, chatted to Jimmy Kimmel, and hung out with Drake in the country that should be rooting for their man, Wilder.
The pressure that clearly rattled Wilder two weeks ago did, to his credit, result in an explosive victory inside one round against Dominic Breazeale but Joshua is approaching this weekend's fight in a different way.
Content that he has done everything he can do, Joshua has adopted the mindset that he doesn't have to shoulder the burden of this elusive Wilder fight. It will come when it comes. In the meantime, Ruiz Jr can be punished for the wait.
Watch Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz Jr on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Box Office, from 10pm. Book it via your Sky remote or book it online here. Even if you aren't a Sky TV subscriber you can book and watch it here.