Anthony Joshua reclaimed the world heavyweight championship in Saudi Arabia on Saturday night by outclassing Andy Ruiz Jr over 12 rounds.
Joshua gained revenge for his nightmare in New York earlier this year, when he fell four times in defeat to Ruiz Jr, by winning a unanimous decision in their rematch and clawing back the IBF, WBA and WBO titles.
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) December 7, 2019
Joshua drew blood from Ruiz Jr in the earliest exchanges – he immediately seemed far more relaxed than during the ill-fated first fight and fired a swift right hook which did the damage.
But Joshua then suffered a similar cut in the second round, above his eye, although he remained poised and unhurt.
Joshua was able to keep the shorter and heavier Ruiz Jr at his preferred range by moving quickly on his back foot, and flicking out a jab whenever the champion tried to creep forwards.
Ruiz Jr finally had success at the end of the fourth round when an overhand right crashed home. Joshua felt it, and the bell came at a good time for him.
But still, Joshua was still able to execute his game-plan, geed on by Rob McCracken, the long-serving trainer in his corner who he unequivocally backed after the first fight. At his lightest ever for a world title fight and 10lbs lighter than the first fight, the Brit had enough to gas to keep Ruiz Jr at bay.
They went toe-to-toe for the first time moments later, in scenes reminiscent of the first fight when Joshua fell, but this time he remained firm.
Ruiz Jr’s eyes lit up in the eighth round when he landed hard punches to the side of Joshua’s head. There was a collective intake of breath at ringside but Joshua did not go down. Joshua then had to absorb even more in the ninth.
It was Joshua’s skill and finesse (although he crashed a right-hand home in the final round) that ultimately made him a two-time heavyweight champion, joining an esteemed company such as Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis in reigning again after suffering defeat.
President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari congratulates Anthony Joshua over his defeat of Andy Ruiz Jr on Saturday, December 7, 2019.
Taking to Twitter, Buhari saluted the heavyweight champion for his comeback victory and retaining his titles.
“I salute World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Anthony Joshua, on his Saturday night comeback victory over Andy Ruiz Jnr. You have brought joy and celebration to millions of Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora; we are and will continue to be immensely proud of you”.