Anthony Joshua was set to use Andy Ruiz Jr for sparring – until a twist of fate led to his shocking defeat

Andy Ruiz Jr had accepted a role as Anthony Joshua’s sparring partner until stepping in at short-notice to hand him his dramatic sole defeat.

Ruiz Jr replaced Jarrell Miller and dished out a shocking stoppage to become IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion last summer in New York – only for Joshua to avenge the result six months later in Saudi Arabia.

But Ruiz Jr was initially intended to be a sparring partner to replicate Miller, Joshua’s original opponent who was withdrawn when he failed drug tests.

So nice we took this pic twice 🌍✌🏿

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“When he was meant to fight Miller, I put together a list,” David Ghansa, who manages Joshua’s training camps and sources sparring partners, told Sky Sports.

“On that list was Ruiz Jr.

“I sent that list to (Joshua’s promoter) Eddie Hearn and asked to make contact with those guys.

“Andy hadn’t replied to my messages.

“Eddie messaged him and, within 10 minutes, showed me a screenshot of Ruiz Jr’s reply. He wanted to know the dates and for how long he would be needed.

“So Ruiz Jr was meant to come to our camp to be a sparring partner when AJ was supposed to fight Miller.

“When Miller then failed a drug test, Ruiz Jr messaged Eddie and said, ‘I don’t want to come for sparring, I want my name in the hat to fight AJ’.

“This is the problem we have. There aren’t that many guys. At the time, he fit the bill.”

Deontay Wilder was also approached to spar with Joshua on a separate occasion, it was revealed.

Wilder had made three defences of his WBC title when Joshua first became a world champion by taking Charles Martin’s IBF belt in 2016.

“We asked Wilder to spar once. This was just after AJ beat Martin,” Ghansa explained.

“Wilder was in Sheffield getting ready to fight Alexander Povetkin (a fight in Russia which never materialised).

“AJ and Wilder weren’t really on each other’s radars, at the time.

“Wilder’s response was, ‘Champs don’t spar champs’.”

For Joshua’s upcoming defence of his IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles he will spar with Joe Joyce, it has been confirmed.

Derek Chisora and Bryant Jennings could also be used.

Sky Sports schedule

Ritson vs Vazquez – Oct 17, live on Sky Sports
Lewis Ritson vs Miguel Vazquez
Savannah Marshall vs Hannah Rankin
Joe Laws
Kash Farooq
Qais Ashfaq
Thomas Patrick Ward

Usyk vs Chisora – Oct 31, live on Sky Sports Box Office
Oleksandr Usyk vs Derek Chisora
Lee Selby vs George Kambosos Jr

Taylor vs Gutierrez – Nov 14, live on Sky Sports
Katie Taylor vs Miriam Gutierrez
Terri Harper vs Katharina Thanderz
Rachel Ball vs Ebanie Bridges

Povetkin vs Whyte 2 – Nov 21, live on Sky Sports Box Office
Alexander Povetkin vs Dillian Whyte

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