Anthony Joshua has promised to "unleash the beast" when he faces Andy Ruiz Jr in a rematch of their world heavyweight unification title fight in Saudi Arabia.
Joshua lost his IBF, WBA, and WBO world titles in a stunning upset loss to Ruiz in June as his American debut ended in a seventh round stoppage at Madison Square Garden.
After activating the rematch clause in the contract, Joshua has an immediate opportunity to earn back his belts on December 7 at the Unesco heritage site of Diriyah, located on the outskirts of Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh.
“It you look at my career it has all been about defining moments, it has been about giving the fans something to cherish. I want to do big things in boxing, and I want this fight to be known as one of the iconic rematches of all time," Joshua, 29, said at a press conference in Diriyah on Wednesday.
“Our last fight was one of those defining moments for me, but I’ve learned from that and now I’m going to unleash the beast, and I shall walk away victorious. We’ve got a massive contest on our hands and I’m excited to be bringing that to a new set of fans."
Given the global interest in the fight, Saudi Arabia beat off competition from the United States and the UK to host the event, and Joshua (22-0-1, 21KOs) said he is looking forward to taking boxing into a new region.
"As an Olympic champion I know that sports fans share the same deep passion wherever they are in the world. I’m expecting there to be incredible energy from the crowd and that gives you something extra in the ring, especially when you see the passion there is for sport in Saudi Arabia.
“For me this is about challenging myself as a man, as an athlete, and creating a moment in boxing history that no one will forget. This fight in Diriyah will be as important for the sport of boxing as it is for me.”
Ruiz Jr, 29, may have stunned the boxing world to beat Joshua first time round, but the Mexican-American is determined to prove it was no fluke when he puts his titles on the line at the event dubbed "Clash on the Dunes".
"I’ve said this before, and I will say it again: I dethroned the king back in June and made history becoming the first Mexican-American champion of the world. Now I get to be the first champion to defend world heavyweight titles in the Middle East, whichever way you look at this, the Clash on the Dunes in Saudi Arabia will go down in history, that’s a fact," Ruiz said.
"I'm looking forward to ending his career here in Diriyah. I will show the greatness of Mexican boxing in Saudi Arabia. I thrive on taking big hits, they are just fuel for me, it is ‘go hard or go home’ with my boxing.
“I showed the world once and I will show them again. I have been working and the fans, both here in Saudi Arabia, and watching around the globe, can expect an unforgettable boxing match.”