By Mark Elezaj
Saudi Arabia- Anthony Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) is once again the IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion after cruising to a unanimous decision victory over Andy Ruiz Jr. (33-2, 22 KOs) in their rematch at the Diriyah Arena, in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia Saturday night.
The judges scored the fight 118-110, 118-110, 119-109. The Fighting Voice scores the fight 119-109 for Joshua.
The game plan was clear from the opening bell, Joshua was going to box, working off of his jab while moving around and making it hard for Ruiz to do much of anything offensively for 12 rounds.
Ruiz, who came into the fight weighing 283 pounds was unable to get into punching range at any point while Joshua simply jabbed his opponent and used his legs to avoid the risk of being caught by anything that could hurt him.
Round one, Joshua came out and boxed from the outside, hitting his target and opening a cut over his left eye with a straight right hand in the final seconds of the round.
In round two, Ruiz was able to open a small cut over Joshuas left eye, but the challenger continued to follow his game plan and kept Ruiz away with his jab.
As the fight went on, Joshua continued to pick Ruiz apart with ease. In the sixth round, Joshua landed a left hook that shook Ruiz. The champion tried to respond by throwing haymakers, but Joshua was able to make him miss, while getting back to working off of the jab.
Finally in the ninth round, after a warning from referee Luis Pabon for illegal punches, Ruiz was able to land a some hard right hands that forced Joshua to back up and hold on. Ruiz continued to push the action in the round, his best round of the night to this point.
But this was Joshuas night, and in the final rounds of the fight, Joshua went back to boxing, sticking and moving around the ring, while refusing to allow Ruiz to exchange with him.
According to CompuBox, Joshua landed 107 of 373 (29%) total punches, and he was 65 of 270 (24%) with his jab. He also landed 42 of 103 (41%) of his power punches.
Ruiz landed 60 of 261 (23%) total punches, 37 of 130 (29%) were his power punches, while landing 23 of 131 (18%) of his jabs.
Ruiz was not quick enough to give Joshua any real problems Saturday night. Joshua boxed well, while Ruiz waited to land something big. The issue was Ruiz, the first Mexican heavyweight boxing champion, couldn’t land the knockout punch he needed this time.
“It was his night, man,’’ Ruiz said. “I think I didn’t prepare how I should have. I gained too much weight. But I don’t want to give no excuses. He won. He boxed me around.’’
It was not a thrilling performance by any stretch, but Joshua did what he needed to do to regain his titles.
“The first time was so nice, I had to do it twice,” Joshua said of regaining his titles. “This is about boxing. I’m used to knocking guys out, but last time I got caught coming in. I gave the man his credit. But I corrected myself and came again. I respect Andy and his family so much. I just wanted to put on a boxing master class, and show the sweet science of this sport. It’s about hitting and not getting hit.”
“It’s all about preparation,” Joshua said. “Like I said, one day when I release a book I will walk through my career’s experience. It’s just about creating great memories. I took my [loss] and I bounced back. Life is a roller coaster. I heard some people say that we should retire if we lose. Hey, Andy, are you ready to retire?”
Ruiz responded, “No way, let’s go again.”
“Never a change in mentality. You know the saying, ‘Stay hungry, stay humble.’ I have stayed hungry and I have stayed humble,” Joshua said.
“Careers are all about experience. I took my L and I bounced back. Anyone can do it.
“I am humble in defeat and I will remain humble in victory. Thank you again to Andy Ruiz and his family, to Saudi Arabia and all of the traveling fans, all of my supporters.”
Ruiz came in at 283 and admitted that it was a mistake on his part.
“It was his night. I think I didn’t prepare how I should have,” Ruiz said. “I gained too much weight, but I don’t wanna give no excuses. He won, he boxed me around. But if we do the third fight, I’m gonna get in the fuckin’ best shape of my life.”
Ruiz continued, “I thought I was gonna feel stronger and be better, but next fight, I’m gonna get more prepared. I tried to train myself, kind of. Anthony Joshua did a hell of a job. I was chasing him too much instead of cutting the ring off. I was hesitating too much. Next time I’m going to do a lot better.”
“This man has been responsible for the growth of British boxing. He’s given everything to the sport,” promoter Eddie Hearn said when asked about Joshua.
“They wrote him off. They said he was all hype. He had to come back from humiliation. Tonight, he’s two-time heavyweight champion of the world. Give him the respect.”
Joshua, who said he was open to a third fight with Ruiz, will now be ordered to make mandatory defenses against Kubrat Pulev and Oleksandr Usyk with a possibility of one of the title belts becoming vacant if the sanctioning bodies insist he make their fight next.
We don’t know what will happen in the future, but what we do know is this, Joshua avenged his first career loss and regained his titles. The king has returned.
~ The Fighting Voice ~