Anthony Joshua Dominates Andy Ruiz Jr. To Reclaim His Heavyweight Titles

Anthony Joshua spent much of the past six months soul-searching, figuring out what went so wrong in his first encounter with Andy Ruiz Jr. and vowing to be better in the rematch.He was better. Much better, as he completely shut down Ruiz in a dominating tactical masterpiece to regain his three heavyweight world title belts by lopsided unanimous decision Saturday at the rain-soaked, 15,000-seat open-air Diriyah Stadium in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.British judge Steve Gray scored it 119-109 and Glen Feldman of the United States and Benoit Russell of Canada each had it 118-110 for Joshua. ESPN had it 119-109 for Joshua, who sent Ruiz into boxing history as a one-hit wonder such as heavyweights Buster Douglas and Hasim Rahman, both of whom also had one big night to win heavyweight titles by upset knockouts.”Man, the first time was so nice — I had to do it twice,” a jovial Joshua said. “A man like me don’t make no excuses, my boy [heavyweight contender] Dereck Chisora said I could do this if I am ready to die. And look, this is about boxing. I am used to knocking guys out.”Last time, I hurt the man and I got caught coming in. I gave that man his credit. There was no excuses. I respect Andy and his family and his trainers so much. I just wanted to put on a great boxing master class and also show the sweet science of this lovely sport. It’s about hitting and not getting hit.”On June 1, Joshua entered Madison Square Garden in New York for his heavily hyped United States debut to face the late substitute Ruiz, who had gotten the fight on a month’s notice when Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller was dropped from the card for failing four random drug tests.They turned in a classic fight in which Joshua knocked him down hard in the third round, but then got dropped by Ruiz twice later in the round and twice more in the seventh round, when the fight was stopped, giving Ruiz the massive upset. Joshua exercised his right to an immediate rematch and went back to the drawing board with trainer Robert McCracken to figure out a game plan to handle Ruiz.He also took advice from former heavyweight champion, good friend and former opponent Wladimir Klitschko, who told him he should focus more on boxing rather than lifting weights and other forms of exercise. Joshua did that, working on his technique throughout the summer and fall while Ruiz partied, celebrated and enjoyed his newfound celebrity.It showed in the fight as Ruiz, who was a fleshy 268 pounds for the first fight, was a mountainous 283.7 pounds for the rematch, the heaviest of his career since he was in the 290s for his first two pro fights in 2009. He was the heaviest fighter to enter the ring for a heavyweight title defense other than 7-foot Nikolai Valuev, who was regularly over 300 pounds for his defenses over two reigns in the 2000s.”It was his night,” Ruiz said. “I don’t think I prepared as good as I should have. I gained too much weight but I don’t want to give no excuses. He won, he boxed me around but if we do the third, best believe I will come in the best shape of my life.” Joshua, meanwhile, who was 247.75 for the first fight, was a slimmer and trimmer but still a rock-solid 237.8 pounds for the rematch. He was fit, had ample stamina and was able to box circles around Ruiz.”Never a change in mentality. You know the saying, ‘Stay hungry, stay humble.’ I have stayed hungry and I have stayed humble,” Joshua said. “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.”(Credit: ESPN)

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