Anthony Joshua must be 'on point mentally' to beat Andy Ruiz Jr, says British fighter Richard Riakporhe

Tom Homewood
Assistant Producer

British boxer Richard Riakporhe says Anthony Joshua needs to be ‘on point mentally’ if he is to beat Andy Ruiz Jr in their rematch on December 7 in Saudi Arabia.

The cruiserweight sparred with Joshua back in 2011 and described him as ‘fast, strong and very intimidating’, but said the man who takes the fight will be the one most mentally prepared.

Ruiz Jr, who stepped in just five-weeks before the fight, shocked the boxing world when he beat Joshua at Madison Square Garden and took his heavyweight titles back on June 1.

Speaking of the rematch on Yahoo Sport presents Tailgate, Riakporhe said Joshua has the necessary skills to reclaim his titles, but when a boxer like Ruiz gets at you, it takes a lot to overcome mentally.

“It’s all about who comes on point mentally, that’s going to take that fight, because Joshua has all the attributes to deal with this kind of opponent, we saw him nearly knock him out.

“It’s one of them ones, when a guy gets at you like the way he did, listen, it takes a lot to overcome mentally.”

READ MORE: Steve Bunce: Serious, fearless Joshua ready for hungry underdog Ruiz rematch

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Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn recently revealed that the 30-year-old struggled to find sparring partners with styles similar to that of Ruiz Jr ahead of their first fight.

Ruiz Jr, Hearn and Joshua (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Hearn told Sky Sports that they now have that problem ‘under control’.

“Sparring is something we’ve been working at. First time around we only had four weeks, and three weeks of sparring. We found guys but probably not the guys we really wanted.

“Now the sparring is top class. He is focused and looking great. Eight weeks to go.

“We’re not interested in looking at Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder or anything else. It’s just about winning one of the biggest heavyweight events of all time.”

Ruiz, also 30, is a unique fighter. His unorthodox stature for a heavyweight, coupled with his sudden replacement for Jarrell Miller, left the Joshua camp struggling to find sparring partners who could mimic Ruiz Jr.

“It’s so difficult to replicate the style of Andy Ruiz. The guy is 6’1”, he’s 19st, and he’s got speed like a middleweight,” Hearn explained previously.

“It’s one thing getting a sparring partner in, it’s getting them to let their hands go against Anthony Joshua. Would you want to do it? You’ve got to be mad to even spar with him, let alone fight him.”

Ruiz Jr knocks Joshua down in the third round on June 01. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Ruiz promised the same result at the fight dubbed ‘the clash on the dunes’ and dismissed any suggestions that he is not taking the rematch seriously.

He said he’d be ‘lighter, faster and more powerful’ and with more time to prepare his coach Manny Robles confirmed that training camp for the rematch would be harder this time around.

“You are going to see a better, faster and slimmer Andy Ruiz. He knows that one win is not enough - he has to get in the ring and win again. He has to prove now that he is a real champion.”

The Mexican-American took to Instagram recently to show off his new physique, perhaps silencing those doubters who said he wouldn’t be taking the second fight seriously.

Credit: Instagram @andy_destroyer13

He captioned his post with “hard work and dedication. Grateful to those who inspired my journey - I hope it inspires yours. Dreams can come true! #LookAtMeNow”.

See the full interview with Riakporhe below.

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