Eddie Hearn, Matchroom Boxing Managing Director: “I think sometimes as a team or promoter you have to pinch with yourself whenever you’re at Madison Square Garden, we have been lucky enough to stage two world championship events at the Theatre, but Matchroom Boxing will make our debut at Madison Square Garden as a promotional company and to do it for the unified Heavyweight championship in an absolute honor, and to do it while representing the Heavyweight Champion Anthony Joshua is an honor as well.
“This week has been incredible, and part of the development of Anthony Joshua the fighter and the brand is to take him worldwide and keep growing the incredible profile around the world.
“We were here a few months ago, what feels like yesterday, when another heavyweight decided to shove Anthony Joshua on the stage in front of you. He talked the talked, but couldn’t help himself. He couldn’t bring himself to try genuinely and honestly fight the unified heavyweight champion of the world. Once the three positive drug test came in we searched for a new opponent, there wasn’t any instructions, it was whoever we wanted. Someone sent me a direct message, I’m fighting on Saturday, give me this fight, I’ll fight harder than any other person mentioned and I will give you a better fight and beat Anthony Joshua. We saw him beat Alexander Dimitrenko, discussions continued, and we knew the deal was important, and had a burning desire to become the first Mexican Heavyweight champion. We respect Andy for stepping up and taking this fight and we know we’re in for a hell of a fight on Saturday night.”
Anthony Joshua OBE – Watford, England – 22-0, 21 KOs – defending his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO Heavyweight World titles against Andy Ruiz Jr:
“The sport is tough no doubt about it, but dedication, focus, and purpose gives me reason to return to the gym each time. I won this title in my 16th fight, I think when I was about three years into being a professional, and I wanted to take these challenges. Without overlooking Andy or his team at all, Andy knows what it’s like to be a fighter. When you have this opportunity in front of you and know what can come after, we naturally look past, so when I was fighting for that title, I was always looking for the next challenge, hoping to get to the next one.
“Fighting Andy for me is just as dangerous as fighting Wilder or Fury because they both possess their own skills, so I have to take Andy deadly serious. I don’t overlook him at all, I respect him and respect his team, and I really respect he put his name on the dotted line to take this challenge. No challenge is easy, no matter what the bookers are telling you or the odd makers. Andy is going to come in here and give me a real good fight and cause problems, and it’s down to me as a champion to think smart, box clever, out box, out strength, and out muscle Andy Ruiz to get that win.
“No fight like after the fight when your hands are raised, your opponent has been defeated and thinking about being on a beach, or being with your family, and focus on the next challenge ahead. Right now I’m only champion till June 1 when I have to defend my titles. I’m currently the heavyweight champion of the world, but June 1 I put them in the air and they’re up for grabs. Let the best man win.”
Andy Ruiz Jr – California, USA – 32-1, 21 KOs – challenging Anthony Joshua OBE for the IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO Heavyweight World titles:
“I’ve been waiting for this all my life, I’ve been training so hard since my last fight against Alexander Dimitrenko. This came at a perfect time to fight Anthony Joshua. Those belts look really shiny, look really good! I’m ready, I’m ready for June 1, I’m ready to become the first Mexican Heavyweight champion of the world. Ready to bring those belts back to Mexico, although they have never been to Mexico, but they will be on June 1. I have nothing bad to say about Anthony Joshua, he’s a champion, I’m a fan of him, I respect him, but inside the ring there won’t be any respect, no friends, and no fans. I’ll I can say is tune-in on June 1, it’s going to be a hell of fight, I’m going to give it all I got, and we’re going to win this for Mexico!”
Manny Robles, trainer of Andy Ruiz Jr:
“Thank you Eddie. Thank you to the entire press that is here today. I don’t have too much to say. Ruiz is ready, he is ready for the challenge. We had a great camp. People think this was a short camp but in reality it wasn’t. We’ve been in the gym for pretty much 15 weeks and we had a tune-up fight in-between. Thank you to Anthony Joshua for giving us a chance. We’re going to give you a run for your money that’s for sure. We’re here to take that title, Viva Mexico!”
Joseph Markowski, DAZN EVP, North America:
“Thanks to the media in attendance today. Many of you have traveled thousands of miles to be here and I think that speaks to the significance of Saturday’s event. Thanks too to Joel Fischer and his team here at the Garden for their hospitality. Great partners as always. This is the first event in a 3-week DAZN residency at MSG – we’ll be giving Billy Joel a run for his money at this rate.
“AJ was there for DAZN at the beginning of our American journey and now we’re proud to be here for his – as the exclusive broadcaster of his fight against a highly motivated Andy Ruiz. Not just in the U.S. but in all 9 DAZN markets across four continents.
“Since AJ debuted on DAZN in September, a lot has changed within boxing. We now have six of the pound-for-pound top 10 boxers in the world on DAZN – many of whom are also the biggest draws in the sport like Canelo Alvarez, Gennadiy Golovkin and, of course, Anthony Joshua.
“We’ve also featured some of the sport’s top women – Katie Taylor, Amanda Serrano and Claressa Shields – as well as its hottest young prospects like Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia.
“At a time when many are focused on how the boxing landscape is fractured, we’re working with a growing number of promoters to cut through the noise and deliver the best fights for fans. Matchroom, Golden Boy, GGG Promotions, the World Boxing Super Series are all on DAZN. It’s the best boxing schedule of any platform and without doubt the best value.
“But we’re not done. We’re hard at work, planning the rest of 2019 to make sure we continue to overdeliver for our subscribers.”
Adam Smith, Head of Sky Sports Boxing:
“Thanks Eddie. There has been ups and downs over the 30 years Sky have been committed to boxing but I think it all changed in 2012 when this man struck Olympic gold in London. Eddie become our exclusive partner at Matchroom, we have a fantastic relationship with them. When AJ signed with us and with Matchroom in 2013 it began a new venture. We had the likes of Ricky Hatton, Lennox Lewis, Joe Calzaghe, David Haye, Carl Froch, so many others over the years. Anthony brings something different to the table, he brings huge charisma, really likability and a terrific talent inside the ring as well. A man that can sellout 90,000 at Wembley. It’s a pleasure being with him on this ride alongside his excellent team. Bring on Saturday night, there’s nothing like a fight in the Garden!”
Robert McCracken MBE, trainer of Anthony Joshua OBE:
“I’ll keep it short and sweet. Ruiz Jr was the best available contender when Jarrell Miller failed his drugs tests. Ruiz for me was the toughest challenge at that stage, we needed somebody that was going to motivate Anthony. There was a couple of names floated around that I don’t think would have motivated him and the camp would have become hard. AJ recognises him as a quality fighter. Technically he is sounds. He has a good coach. He was very close in the Parker fight. He is a world level fighter and a serious contender and that’s what Anthony Joshua is about. He wants to fight the best out there. Right now Andy Ruiz is the best out there for this date, that’s the challenge.
“Josh is ready. We went to Miami, it was fantastic. We worked really hard, four weeks we kept him locked up. We feel AJ is a deserving champion and will produce a fantastic performance in a great fight and will continue on and unify the division.”
ANTHONY JOSHUA VS. ANDY RUIZ, JR. UNDERCARD PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES
Ahead of Anthony Joshua’s U.S. debut against Mexican Challenger Andy Ruiz, Jr. on Saturday night, the undercard fighters took the stage in a press conference to discuss their preparation and predictions. The stacked card will feature undefeated WBA Super Middleweight World Champion Callum Smith (25-0, 18 KOs) who will make his first title defense against former Middleweight World Champion Hassan N’Dam (37-3, 21 KOs). Earlier in the evening, Katie Taylor (13-0, 6 KOs) will face Delfine Persoon (43-1, 18 KOs) to crown the undisputed World Female Lightweight Champion. Taylor owns the IBF, WBA and WBO titles, while Persoon holds the WBC strap. Former World Champion Chris Algieri (23-3, 8 KOs) returns as he takes on Tommy Coyle (25-4, 12 KOs) for the vacant WBO International Super Lightweight Title, Joshua Buatsi (10-0, 8 KOs) makes his U.S. debut against Marco Antonio Periban (25-4-1, 16 KOs), and Josh Kelly (9-0, 6 KOs) faces off against Ray Robinson (24-3-1, 12 KOs).
“Oh yeah I feel good. I’m excited, this is a new chapter in my career. I always dreamed to be a world champion and see what I can achieve. There’s no better place than Madison Square Garden with a lot of history, and add my name with other fighters that have been here.
“There were other shows mentioned, but the the minute Madison Square Garden was mentioned and the AJ show, it was a major platform I wanted to take advantage of. To secure the best fights I have to win and maximize my potential and I look forward to doing that Saturday night.
“Yeah he’s a good fighter and he has very good experience. A former world champion and I believe I’m the best middleweight in the world and if that’s true I’ll be able to beat Hassan, and beat him well and look good doing it.”
“They called me to fight Callum Smith and I had to think a little bit because we have a good relationship with him and his brother. I saw him grow up in this sport, he helped me, and I helped him. My trainer told me every day you want to face the best in the world, why would you think about it. You have an opportunity to fight at Madison Square Garden and make your dream come true. We will put this friendship out and fight Callum Smith because he has something I want and that’s to be a champion, too. It will be a great fight, don’t miss it.
“This is my first time in this division. I don’t know how I will feel. I don’t think I will be slow. I have the experience. Fighting at Madison Square Garden is everyone’s dream to fight there. Yes, my experience will be my very first point in this match.”
“Since I turned professional I wanted to be undisputed champion. I pinch myself that I have this opportunity at Madison Square Garden. It can’t get better than this and I’m ready to perform. I’m excited for this.”
“Delfine is a champion and this exactly what boxing needs, the best versus the best, and I expect the toughest challenge of my career. We’re here to make history for our countries and it will be a very exciting fight.
“This the biggest night of my career. It’s the pinnacle of boxing to have all five belts. This is exactly what every fighter dreams of, I understand the magnitude, this is why I box, and I’m ready to make history.”
“Belgium is a small country. New York is bigger than Belgium. Boxing in Belgium is not recognized, so I can be the first to be recognized and make history in Belgium. I can put it on the map. If I can go to the fight and win the fight I’ll be the first Belgium to be an undisputed boxer to make history. It’s my passion and I will do everything for it. We were looking for this fight for two years, thought we may never get the chance, and now I get this fight and now we go for it.
“I expect a tough fight. She has a lot more fights in the amateurs. I only had one year in the amateurs because in Belgium boxing is not very big. For me I didn’t get a chance to go to Olympics and Katie Taylor is an Olympic champion, so now I can compete against the world champion and beat the Olympic champion. Everyone knows world champion is great but Olympic champion is great too. I know I can compete for an Olympic champion and for me that’s important, and I have the courage to do this.”
“I feel blessed to be here and get a chance to perform on a world stage. Not many kids form Sutherland get this chance. I’m ready to for this step up. I know he couldn’t be here cause of family problems, and wish him all the best with that. I’m ready to put on a performance on Saturday and dance underneath those lights. I’m excited, I’ll enjoy it, and I’m going to perform.”
“Good evening and good morning. This is a good opportunity. He’s a great Mexican fighter and brings experience to the table. Everyone is curious to see what happens and it’s up to me to put on a show. Haven’t seen him but I’ll see him Friday at the weigh-in.”
“I’ve prepared to go ten rounds and if it goes the distance, cool. If I sense any vulnerabilities or opportunities there I’ll take it. As always I want to entertain people, so if goes the distance or it doesn’t, happy days.
“It was a good experience, good to be in Miami, it was my first time being the U.S. overall. It was good to see how AJ does things leading up to a fight like this. Finishing off camp in Miami and then coming to New York to add the final touches. It was a good experience for myself and can come back and do the same thing.”
“I never in my wildest dreams think I’d be fighting at MSG, I’m so excited. This is an opportunity for me to do something that I’ve never done in my career. Without pressure you don’t get diamonds and Saturday night I’ll go in there and get the diamond. I’ve improved as a fighter and growing into my own. I feel like this is a prank, but I’m here and it’s going off.
“100% very winnable fight, it’s a great fight. Algieri is a great fighter and better dresser. This is a fight for me and where I can look good. I won’t have to go find him and I think styles will gel fantastically.”
“This is huge opportunity and this is exactly why I came back to the sport. I want to be a world champion. I need to go out there and be impressive for another title run. I feel great and this training camp has been fantastic. I have an opponent in Tommy Coyle that gets me excited. There’s a lot of talk on what I’ve been doing outside the ring but I want to go back to talking about what I do inside the ring. So Saturday night I look forward to putting on a great show, and coming out with a victory and move forward.
“Tommy Coyle is blood and guts guy and trains really hard. Give it his all when he fights and that’s exactly what I need to get up and train hard and give me a great foil for a great performance on a great card.”