sport news Andy Ruiz Jr feels the need for speed against Anthony Joshua after trimming the ...

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There was a time when Andy Ruiz Jr was considered more of a punchline than puncher.

He was the short, fat, Snickers-devouring Mexican found on the undercard of serious fighters.

But that was before he made all his detractors eat their words by becoming his nation's first world heavyweight champion.

Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua are set to go head-to-head once more in Saudi Arabia

Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua are set to go head-to-head once more in Saudi Arabia

A distinction he has no intention of surrendering in the sands of Saudi Arabia on Saturday night.

Anthony Joshua was derided as a muscle-bound robot after he crashed to the canvas four times on his way to the wrong end of one of the most sensational upsets in modern boxing.

A seismic shock he is bell-bent on avenging — along with regaining his WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO belts — in this immediate rematch in the ancient and historic quarter of Diriyah.

While body-shaming should no more have a place in the prize-ring than the magazines, both these fighting men have chiselled their condition during their six-month pilgrimage from Madison Square Garden to the Arabian desert. Joshua, determined not to be caught standing again by the portly but startlingly fleet Ruiz, has concentrated less on power and more on the intensified sparring which has streamlined his frame.

Joshua was looking a lot leaner when he entered the ring for his public workout on Wednesday

Joshua was looking a lot leaner when he entered the ring for his public workout on Wednesday

It is clear, too that the Mexican has also been working hard to trim some of his excess weight

It is clear, too that the Mexican has also been working hard to trim some of his excess weight 

Both looked trimmer as they went through the promotional fight week ritual of a gentle public workout here on Wednesday.

Joshua startlingly so. Perhaps a little alarmingly. Ruiz less so. Maybe deceptively. Joshua's Adonis appearance of a body-builder to which we have become accustomed has been replaced by a leaner — hopefully meaner — outline.

His promoter Eddie Hearn says he expects the public to be 'a bit shocked' by AJ's appearance in the ring and that his marquee heavyweight 'will definitely be lighter this time'.

Glimpses of Joshua's rippling muscles morphed into more sinewy arms and a skinnier waist seem to support that contention.

Ruiz, although four inches shorter at 6ft 2in, weighed some two stones heavier in New York than the 17st 9lb Joshua.

Ruiz sent shockwaves around the boxing world when he beat world champion Joshua in June

Ruiz sent shockwaves around the boxing world when he beat world champion Joshua in June

In photographs published since that earth-shattering night Ruiz looked to have been on a drastic weight-loss programme. Now it seems that he used a first extra month of training to shed some of the flab, followed by a rebuilding of that stubby physique so as to increase rather than lessen his strength. Ruiz confirms as much when he says: 'I will go to the ring the same weight as the first fight, on the button.'

Although both deny these measures have been extreme, each admits he has trained for more of the speed which is now the vital element of champion fighters.

The perceived evolution of the heavyweight division has been through growing height.

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