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Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz Jr 2: AJ’s amateur coach on criticism, what he said after devastating defeat, and why the Mexican may have made a mistake

Sean Murphy became a grandad last Sunday – the day he turned 55 – and he’s hoping for another belated birthday present when Anthony Joshua takes on Andy Ruiz Jr in a crunch rematch this weekend.

Their relationship spans well over a decade, Murphy was the heavyweight star’s first boxing coach.

He helped steer Joshua away from a life of crime and shape him into the man he is today, something that the latter has never forgotten.

Murphy, a former boxer himself, says he is brimming with excitement ahead of the rematch on Saturday, which is being held at the 15,000 purpose-built Diriyah Arena in Saudi Arabia.

“We’re going out there on Friday for a few days. It’ll be an amazing experience witnessing a new country and culture – I can’t wait for it now.

“I’m obviously a bit nervous, as I’m sure the kid is, but I’m confident he can bounce back.”

Anthony Joshua is fit and raring to go for his crunch rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr
Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing and Dave Thompson/Matchroom

Discussing the bond the pair have, he explained: “We speak regularly. Josh epitomises the meaning of loyalty and no-one will tell me any different.

“The Monday before he went to Saudi Arabia he was up in the gym [Finchley Amateur Boxing Club] training.

“He hasn’t forgotten his roots and he means an awful lot to us all here at Finchley.”

Joshua came under huge scrutiny following his shock defeat to the Mexican-American at Madison Square Garden back in June.

Andy Ruiz stunned the Brit in New York City after coming in as a late replacement
Getty Images – Getty

AJ was dropped four times and stopped by Ruiz Jr on his US debut, losing for the first time as a professional.

Murphy believes the backlash to that loss was over the top, but admits it was probably the Brit’s worst performance to date.

“I’ve seen and read a lot of it and I think it’s been a bit harsh,” he said. “But Josh knows it’s part and parcel of being involved at the elite level of boxing.

“If you look at his performance from that night it’s probably one of the worst times I’ve ever seen him box.

“He wasn’t right that night. I know that, he knows that and so does everyone else. When he was walking to the ring I could tell there was something not right, he didn’t seem himself.

Joshua bought Murphy a personalised BMW back in 2017 as a thank you gift for all the help and guidance he has given him over the years

“Even in the gym beforehand he didn’t seem that confident and that’s not what he’s about.

“But one thing he won’t do is make excuses. He put his hands up and said the better man won on the night.”

He continued: “People don’t know the ins and outs of what was going on at that time. His previous camp didn’t go very well, there were a few little issues.

“But this camp has gone really well and he’s in the right frame of mind for it. He’s learnt from his mistakes and he’s going to come back stronger, I’m 100 per cent sure of that.

“He said to me afterwards: ‘I’m going to right the wrong.’ He’s not one of these fighters who sulks around when he gets beat, at the end of the day there’s nothing you can do about it.

“He’s got to put it right and that’s why he’s getting straight back in the ring with him.”

Murphy, who admitted he didn’t envisage Ruiz Jr causing many problems to AJ in the first fight, has been surprised by the former’s decision to shed body fat ahead of the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight title fight in Diriyah.

“I think it’s going to hinder Ruiz Jr, as opposed to helping him,” he believes.

“It will be less of an advantage for him as a fighter. Yeah, he might have a bit more hand speed, but I don’t think he’ll possess the same amount of power. It’s an interesting one.”

Ruiz Jr looks a bit different from his first fight against Joshua

So how will this mouthwatering showdown pan out? Murphy is adamant Joshua has what it takes to come back and beat Ruiz this time around.

“He’s going to prove everyone wrong. I believe he will stop Ruiz and put on a real show,” Murphy confidently stated.

“He’s going to get a late stoppage, something in my head is telling me the seventh round. I really fancy Josh to get the job done this time.”

Joshua, who himself is considerably lighter and slimmer ahead of this bout, has the opportunity to take control of the heavyweight division once more and it’s something he can’t let pass him by – defeat this Saturday evening is quite simply not an option.


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