Joshua v Ruiz II: Panic room installed for Joshua at Diriyah Arena
The purpose-built arena for the rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia is to feature a panic room at the request of Joshua's promoter, Matchroom Boxing.
Rumours circulated following the first fight, which Ruiz Jr. won by a shock technical knockout in round 7, that Joshua had suffered from a panic attack in his dressing room just before his ring walk, explaining his poor performance.
Joshua was quick to deny those rumours at the time, as was Matchroom's Eddie Hearn. Nevertheless, the promoter requested that the 15,000-seat Diriyah Arena, built especially for the fight and to be deconstructed immediately after, feature a panic room in case Joshua has another episode.
"It's just a precaution", said Hearn. "Anthony didn't have a panic attack before the last fight, and he's definitely, 100%, absolutely not going to have one this time. But in case he does, we've given him a little safe space within his dressing room so he can shake it off.
"Look, he just lost his first fight against a chubby Mexican guy who looks like a Pixar character. Of course he's going to have some pre-fight jitters. Who wouldn't?
"He's had a couple of moments in training where I've been a bit concerned, but nothing too out of the ordinary; well, maybe that time I got a Snickers bar from the vending machine and he started screaming. My fault really; I forgot that's Ruiz's favourite.
"If it happens again, I mean, for the first time, we'll be prepared. The only thing we haven't worked out yet is how to get him out of there if he doesn't want to fight. But it won't come to that. He's a big, strong, muscular Adonis and I love him very much. Don't write that down."
The room will reportedly be secured by a vault door, but inside there will be a comfortable couch, some of Joshua's personal items, a built-in sound system with a pre-installed meditation playlist, and mood lighting.
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