Anthony Joshua has insisted that victory in his world heavyweight title rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia on Saturday night will be no special cause for celebration.
Victory for Joshua would avenge his stunning loss to Ruiz in his last fight in June and project him towards a further unification bout against either Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder.
But at a Wednesday press conference close to the venue in the desert suburb of Diriyah, Joshua said: “People have asked me if it will be a special moment if I win, and I say no because I belong here.
“When I regain those belts, I will keep the challenger mindset and stay focused. It’s not a time to celebrate. It’s a time to keep my challenger’s mind-set and move on to my next target.”
Joshua is expected to enter the ring roughly half a stone lighter than he was for the first fight with Ruiz, although he did not give anything away during a perfunctory media workout on Tuesday.
He has exuded an aura of quiet confidence during his public and media appearances this week, appearing to back up his repeated assertion that his stunning loss to Ruiz has not affected his appetite for the sport.
“As soon as I got back from New York I got straight back in at Finchley ABC – I didn’t lose any heart,” added Joshua. “There’s fire in my belly, there’s no fear in my heart, and I’m just focused on putting on a show.”
Meanwhile Ruiz has relished the intense media scrutiny of fight week, lingering for media opportunities and taking to the ring for his public work-out in lime green hand-wraps and a grey bobble-hat which he eventually threw into the crowd.
He sported more eye-catching attire at the press conference, with a New York Knicks top in order to remind himself – and Joshua – of the venue where he pulled off arguably the biggest upset win since Hasim Rahman dethroned Lennox Lewis in Carnival City in 2001.
“I’m glad people noticed the jersey,” said Ruiz. “I wore it to remind myself that I’m the champ, and to remind AJ as well, but I did it for myself mainly.”
Ruiz has been preparing for Joshua to adopt a more cagey and elusive game-plan in order to avoid more woe at the hands of the champion’s crashing left hook.
He added: “I know AJ’s going to come with a different game-plan. I know he’s prepared and motivated and he’s going to be more cautious.
“I know he’s lost weight and he’s going to try to box me around but it’s my job to prevent that.
“I don’t want to let these beautiful belts go away. It’s been a long rollercoaster and I’ve finally made my dreams come true. I’m going to do anything possible to get that victory.”