IN the mouth of the U-shaped Al Faisaliah – the big fight hotel here in Saudi Arabia – Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua tested the sturdiness of the makeshift stage that was grateful to be stood upon spongy green grass. Ruiz, the champion, hit the scales at a whopping 283lbs, his heaviest since his second professional fight way back in 2009, while Joshua – officially four inches taller than Ruiz at 6ft 6ins – came in at a trim 237lbs, his lightest since he defeated Denis Bakhtov in 2014.
Much, often too much, can be drawn from weigh-ins. Logic should tell us that Ruiz, if the scales were right and he hadn’t tucked a small child eating a Big Mac under the sombrero he was wearing, has not trained as hard as he should have. But logic and boxing rarely mix – as the outcome of the first fight highlighted. Back then, Ruiz hit the scales at 268lbs and many suggested he hadn’t taken things seriously because he was six pounds heavier than when he defeated Alexander Dimitrenko two months before. Nobody questioned his dedication after he bludgeoned Joshua into defeat.
It should also be noted that, as well as the hat, Ruiz was wearing tracksuit bottoms, a vest and chunky trainers. By way of investigation – and this is how crazy I’m going out here in Saudi Arabia – I stepped on the scales in my hotel room just now without my Dr Marten boots before gaining an extra four pounds when putting them on. To be clear, and in all seriousness, it was not Ruiz’s intention to make his opponent believe that he’s in prime condition. This is the man who has spent much of the last six months playing on his puppy dog exterior and fat kid physique. He lulled Joshua into a false sense of superiority ahead of fight one and there is every possibility that he’s attempting to do the same here. Indeed, there is already evidence from the build-up to this contest that Ruiz – not as dim or as innocent as he wants you to believe – is quickly turning into the master of the boxing mind game.