LONDON (Reuters) - Heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua will defend his titles against California-based Mexican Andy Ruiz Jr in New York on June 1, the Briton’s promoter announced on Wednesday.
Joshua, the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO world champion, had been scheduled to fight American Jarrell Miller but the New York State Athletic Commission refused to sanction the fight after Miller failed a drugs test.
Ruiz is hoping to become Mexico’s first heavyweight world champion.
“It’s time to make history. On June 1 we’re going to make history,” he said in a YouTube interview with Matchroom Boxing.
“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. This is my time, this is my chance.”
“I think the fight is going toe-to-toe, two guys smashing each other’s faces. I’m going in there to throw combinations like I’ve never thrown before,” added Ruiz.
“A lot of people underestimated me. I’m used to that. I’m not going in there scared or nervous. I’m going in there mad to take what’s mine.”
The fight will be 2012 Olympic super-heavyweight champion Joshua’s first title bout outside of Britain.
The 29-year-old has a professional record of 22 wins, which includes 21 knockouts.
Ruiz, also 29, has a record of 32 wins, 21 by knockout, and one defeat — his loss coming in a majority decision against New Zealander Joseph Parker in Auckland in 2016 for the vacant WBO belt.
Parker then lost that title to Joshua in a unanimous points decision in Cardiff in March last year.
“Ruiz is a different kind of challenge but one I embrace,” said Joshua.
“We have worked in the boxing gym week on week and whoever was going to be put in front of me at Madison Square Garden was going to be dispatched in style. The rent will be collected.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn said Ruiz, who has looked more paunchy than punchy in some recent photographs, could prove a tougher test than 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 in June,” said the Briton.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge