Anthony Joshua got his revenge. Six months after his devastating, historic loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. (33-2, 22 KOs), Joshua proved he's still a championship-caliber fighter in the rematch. Famous for his electrifying knockouts, Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) instead relied on his jab and constant movement to keep the faster Ruiz at bay and earn a wide unanimous-decision win on Saturday night at the Diriyah Arena in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.
The cards were 118-110, 118-110 and 119-109 in favor of Joshua, per BoxingInsider.com. Joshua regained the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO heavyweight world titles with the victory.
The win means the 30-year-old Englishman is once again back on track for a lucrative unification fight with the winner of the planned Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury rematch. Ruiz's reign as the first heavyweight champion of Mexican heritage ends without a title defense, but he should remain a championship contender.
RingTV.com's Douglass Fischer and Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole reacted to the outcome:
Douglass Fischer @dougiefischer
Joshua did it. He was doubted/counted out by a lot of people (fans, media, insiders), but he answered those questions with a very good, disciplined #boxing performance. It wasn't dramatic or entertaining but drama & action would have gotten him KO'd again vs. Ruiz. #RuizJoshua2
Hurt and humiliated after the first match in New York City, Joshua came into this bout focused and ready to execute his game plan. He cut some muscle from his Herculean physique in order to move around the ring better. Ruiz came into the bout 15 pounds heavier, and he was not quick enough to work past Joshua's jab. After the bout he said he would make "no excuses" for the outcome, per the DAZN USA broadcast.
Joshua started the match brightly, looking calm and composed behind a steady jab. He opened up a cut over Ruiz's left eye with a cross in the first round, but the champion responded by opening a small gash on Joshua's eye with a pair of jabs in the second round.
Here's the punch that cut Ruiz, per DAZN USA:
Bad Left Hook noted the ring size aided Joshua's strategy:
With so much room to maneuver, Ruiz had trouble getting his feet set and unleashing the kind of swift combinations that sent Joshua stumbling to the canvas in the first fight. The fourth round saw Joshua mix in more power punches with his jab, while Ruiz did well to counter them.
Boxing commentator Teddy Atlas felt Joshua needed to ditch the powerful combinations that made him famous:
Ruiz's hands are deceptively quick, and anytime he was in close for more than a few seconds, he usually came out looking better. Joshua's corner felt keeping the fight under control was necessary to win, per SportingNews.com's Andreas Hale:
There was a few dangerous moments for Joshua in the eighth and ninth rounds. Ruiz was able to buzz him with strong hooks and force the contender to clinch. Only a handful of fighters have survived Joshua's thudding hands for more than a few rounds, and it's a testament to Ruiz's strong chin that he was able to keep giving him trouble late in the match.
DAZN USA provided a look at one of Ruiz's better moments:
Joshua has had issues with stamina in previous fights, but he looked fresh in the final rounds. He still had the bounce in his step and was able to stick and move, frustrating Ruiz until the final bell.
The Athletic's Mike Coppinger compared his effort to that of Wladimir Klitschko, the former heavyweight champion who Joshua knocked out to earn his multiple world titles:
With the comeback win, Joshua has re-established himself as one of the top draws in the heavyweight division, but there will be concerns going forward. By avoiding Ruiz's power punches for 12 rounds, he didn't answer any questions about his suspect chin. Boxers with fast hands will give him trouble. However, he did show he is more than just a thunderous hitter. Joshua is a champion again, and he is on his way to becoming a complete one.