Anthony Joshua has reclaimed his heavyweight world titles after producing a masterful boxing display against Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia.
The Briton suffered a stunning upset last June as Ruiz shocked the boxing world with a seventh round knockout at Madison Square Garden.
But Joshua righted that wrong with a tactically perfect performance to take back the IBF, WBA (Super) and IBF belts, securing a clean sweep of the judges’ scorecards after dominating the 12-round contest.
Without hesitating to take the rematch, Joshua becomes just the fourth heavyweight in boxing history to reclaim his titles at the first time of asking, joining Muhammad Ali, Floyd Patterson and Lennox Lewis in that exclusive club.
Joshua knocked down Ruiz in the third round on that famous night in New York before four knockdowns ended his reign at the summit of heavyweight boxing in devastating fashion.
That night, the 2012 Olympian was made to pay for some rash decisions, coming up short when unwisely choosing to engage with the lightning fast Mexican.
This time around, Joshua fought the most disciplined performance of his career expertly devised by trainer Rob McCracken and his team, controlling the fight with his sublime jab and fleet-footed movement around the ring that Ruiz had little answer to.
Six months on from that night in New York, Joshua came in over 10lbs lighter – the basis for a sensational performance with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
There was the occasional moment where Ruiz looked to repeat history, troubling Joshua at the end of the fourth.
Joshua emerged composed however, getting his jab going again and maintaining the distance that would keep him in control and frustrate the champion.
Ruiz needed a knockdown as the fight entered its championship rounds – but it never looked close to coming as Joshua maintained his discipline to the final bell.
The celebrations had already begun as the scores – 110 118-110 and 119-109 – were read out. They will go on long into the night.
Trilogy fight on, so says AJ
Anthony Joshua has welcomed a trilogy fight with Andy Ruiz after a punch-perfect display to regain his world heavyweight titles in Saudi Arabia.
Joshua secured a clean sweep of the judges’ scorecards to take back the IBF, WBA (Super) and WBO titles – six months on from his shock loss to Ruiz at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The win hauls the Briton back into contention for a unification showdown with WBC champion Deontay Wilder who puts his title on the line against Tyson Fury in February.
After winning the first fight, Ruiz was eager for a third fight in his post-fight interview.
“I gained too much weight. I don’t want to give excuses, he won. He boxed me around. If we do a third fight you best believe I’m going to get in shape. I’ll be in the best shape of my life.”
Joshua responded: “Without a doubt. If you heard, we are going to do a third!”
If you heard, we are going to do a third!” Joshua bellows.
Joshua beats Ruiz by unanimous decision!
All the judges score the fight for Anthony Joshua! He has his belts back!
Joshua vs Ruiz | Round 12
A touch of the gloves between the two as the final round gets underway. Ruiz needs a knockout.
Joshua lands a ferocious right – for one moment he looks tempted to go for the finish – but he again steps away, not allowing Ruiz to engage.
Jab, jab, jab – that’s been AJ all night. It’s been a masterclass for Joshua who surely has his belts back.
Joshua vs Ruiz | Round 11
Another intelligent round fought by Joshua, skipping around the ring and maintaining the distance that allows him to stay in control. Could the Joshua of six months ago move around the ring like this? Unlikely.
Ruiz needs a big finish.
Joshua vs Ruiz | Round 10
Ruiz is trying to lay traps for Joshua but so far the challenger is reading them.
That disciplined jab keeps him in control and it’s another round that goes his way.
Joshua vs Ruiz | Round 9
Joshua lands that jab early on but Ruiz is cranking up the pressure, forcing Joshua onto the backfoot.
AJ is creating the distance and lands a superb counter right! Ruiz looks to hold, where he has looked to land those damaging close range hooks, but the challenger has already slipped out of danger.
Joshua vs Ruiz | Round 8
Ruiz catches Joshua with a few rights to the body early on – and then catches his opponent on the back of the head. Joshua isn’t happy and words are exchanged before the referee separates them.
Ruiz finds that right to the body again as they resume and he closes the distance again and lands upstairs.
He is caught again and Joshua wobbles back – briefly, however, and skips out of danger.
Tony Bellew is scoring this 69-64 in Joshua’s favour at the moment.
Joshua vs Ruiz | Round 7
Joshua lands a couple of sweet left hooks early on and then goes back to work with that job, softening Ruiz up.
A short range right clips Ruiz and it sparks a close range scrap that Joshua wisely steps out of.
Joshua is making him miss a little more now.
Joshua vs Ruiz | Round 6
Ruiz snaps a nice counter shot around the side of Joshua’s head after eating a stiff uppercut – nice exchanges early on.
Ruiz lands a right to the body – again AJ takes it well and responds with a stiff jab upstairs again that draws a nod of appreciation out of the champion.
That jab has been superb across six rounds.
Joshua vs Ruiz | Round 5
Ruiz is still very fresh in there, picking his shots cleverly and landing one behind the ear of Joshua a minute in.
Joshua lands a right on the chin – Ruiz takes it well but it’s a clean shot that will impress the judges.
The most remarkable thing about Joshua’s performance so far – he has learned from the mistakes made in the Garden six months ago.
Joshua vs Ruiz | Round 4
This is the smartest Joshua has ever fought – not once has he been tempted to pile in and trade, making this the fight he wants to fight at his own pace.
Ruiz cranks up the pressure in the second-half of the round, however, forcing Joshua around the ring. The Briton eases the pressure with a stiff right over the top but Ruiz reacts superbly, catching him late on with Joshua definitely feeling that.
A worrying end to the round after such a bright start.
Joshua vs Ruiz | Round 3
Joshua is moving nicely in there, fleet-footed, skipping out of danger and taking his time.
Ruiz is quick, trying to close the distance with those quick jab combos, but Joshua is even quicker, popping out of danger before landing a beautiful hook the body late in the round.
So far, so (very) good from Joshua.
Joshua vs Ruiz | Round 2
Ruiz lands a hard double jab but Joshua throws another straight right that opens up that cut again.
Ruiz is dabbing at that wound – Joshua’s long jab and superior reach is causing problems and Joshua is exhibiting the patience he didn’t have in New York.
But Joshua is cut too! A clash of heads, maybe? Ruiz’s is looking a lot worse.
Joshua vs Ruiz | Round 1
Ruiz immediately tries to takes the centre of the ring, trying to get his jab going early on, pushing forward a lot earlier than he did back in New York.
A right to the body catches Joshua, but the Briton throws one back and proceeds to get his jab going effectively.
Joshua lands a right and blood is flowing from the champion! Superb start from AJ, patient and controlled.
Joshua vs Ruiz
A final touch of the gloves between the two.
HERE WE GO!
Michael Buffer is back on the mic to launch a fight like no one else can. You all know the words.
Mexican-American Ruiz will get two anthems – here comes the Mexican one.
Andy Ruiz is here – the US nation anthem rings out for him with the Mexican flag waving in the background.
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