Heavyweight contender Andy Ruiz Jr. will get a second and wholly unexpected world title opportunity.
Ruiz, bidding to become the first Mexican to win a heavyweight world title, will step in on short notice to challenge Anthony Joshua for his three major belts on June 1, at Madison Square Garden in New York, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn announced Wednesday after two weeks spent looking for a replacement opponent for Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller.
“I’m really excited for this fight,” Ruiz said. “There’s nervousness in me, but they’re happy nerves. This is my chance to make history. I want to be one of those greats like (Julio Cesar) Chavez, (Mike) Tyson, (Evander) Holyfield, Lennox Lewis. I want to be in that category. Thanks to God for everything that he put in me. I just can’t wait.”
England’s Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs), 29, who will be making his much-anticipated United States debut, was supposed to make his seventh title defense against Brooklyn contender Miller. However, two weeks ago, Miller was denied a boxing license in New York after failing multiple Voluntary Anti-Doping Association-administered random drug tests.
“People talk about fighting AJ, some even have to fill their bodies with PEDs to try and beat him up, but very few genuine fighters step up and take the challenge,” said Hearn, who said it was “tricky” trying to line up a new opponent.
“When we selected the opponent, I wanted someone with fire in their heart, someone who genuinely believed that they can win and become world heavyweight champion,” Hearn continued. “Andy showed that desire. In my opinion, this is a tougher test than Jarrell Miller. Andy punches harder and is much faster. This is going to be a war. Andy brings Mexican heart, but he will meet the best heavyweight in the world on June 1 head-on at the Garden.”
Miller failed four drug screens for three banned substances — GW1516, human growth hormone and EPO — in blood and urine tests conducted in March but whose results came to light a few weeks later.