Clash on the Dunes: Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz find inspiration during school visits

Fighters took time out from preparations for their world heavyweight title rematch

Anthony Joshua spends time with children at Misk schools ahead of his heavyweight world title fight with Andy Ruiz Jr. Courtesy Diriyah Season
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Ahead of their highly-anticipated heavyweight world title clash in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua both spent some time giving back to the community by visiting schools.

Ruiz and Joshua face off in a mega-bout billed as 'Clash on the Dunes' – a rematch of their first fight in New York City where Ruiz claimed a sensational seventh round stoppage to claim Joshua's IBF, WBA, and WBO belts.

After the fighters, their teams, and the world's media arrived in Saudi this week, the hype is only increasing as fight night approaches, but Ruiz and Joshua took a break from their duties to put some smiles on the faces of schoolkids.

Ruiz, 30, first visited the Disabled Children’s Association before heading to the Charity Committee for Orphans Care in Riyadh. The Mexican-American spent time with the children and gave away backpacks and autographed merchandise, took photos, and offered words of encouragement.

“It feels good giving back to the community,” Ruiz said. “I wanted to show them love and support and to let them know Andy Ruiz is here to support with anything they need.”

Ruiz has been enjoying his time in Saudi since arriving in the kingdom last Tuesday, using the build-up to the fight to experience the country's culture.

“I love it, the people have a lot of love and respect. I felt that especially with the kids,” he said.

Joshua, meanwhile, visited the Misk schools - a newly-established school that uses real-world experiential learning to help students learn through an extensive range of project- and field-based experiences.

The 30-year-old Briton spoke to the children about the benefits of sports and a healthy lifestyle, while the children got the chance to ask him questions before being treated to a glove signing session.

Andy Ruiz Jr during his schools visit ahead of his fight with Anthony Joshua. Courtesy Diriyah Season

“This is different now. This is a different arena, a different country, and a different experience. The ritual I followed in England can’t work here. That’s why I’m coming to this school, to connect with the people,” Joshua said.

“It will help me find a process that will work for me to be victorious. I’m looking forward to being creative and successful.”

'Clash on the Dunes' promises to be one of the biggest sports events of the year as Joshua strives to right the wrongs of June 1, while Ruiz aims to prove it wasn't a fluke.

A purpose-built 15,000-capacity stadium, the Diriyah Arena, has been built to host the fight, which is set to welcome fans from more than 65 countries as well as around 300 members of the media.

In addition to the main event, the fight card is stacked with heavyweight clashes, including a WBC world heavyweight title eliminator between former world champion Alexander Povetkin and Michael Hunter, and Dillian Whyte's clash with Mariusz Wach.