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Anthony Joshua beat Andy Ruiz Jnr by unanimous points decision to regain WBA, WBO, IBO and IBF heavyweight titles in Saudi Arabia

Slugged into career crisis in Madison Square, Anthony Joshua danced into the realm of two-time world heavyweight champion amid these desert ruins.

Joshua jabbed to distraction the Mexican who had ripped away his belts and his honour six months ago.

He toyed with Andy Ruiz Jnr, which made it hard to conceive how on earth he had brought so much pain and trouble upon himself in the first match against a shorter, more corpulent man.

The boxing world had worried about the historic risk of taking the immediate rematch but he made mockery of perceived wisdom by conducting a masterclass.

That required sticking to the jab, move and frustrate Ruiz plan which had to work given his dramatic weight loss.

Ten pounds lighter but light years wiser. As longer he resisted, for the most part, the street fighter’s temptation to be drawn into a brawl for bragging rights.

The statistics were stark. One judge had him winning 119-109. The two other officials had it 118-110, a cake-walk by ten rounds to two with which I concur.

Joshua credited this marvellous turnaround to this: ‘Being humble in defeat and now staying humble and hungry in victory.’

Ruiz brought up the prospect of a third fight which Joshua had raised earlier in fight week but now they have made a fortune here it is hard to see the public buying it again. So dominant was AJ in redemption.

His was a classic act but this was no thriller. Simply a well-judged restatement of his Olympic and world title credentials.

There are now bigger fish to fry than Snickers man. Not least the winner of another rematch, that between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder in February.

Normal service has been resumed in the heavyweight division.

The smattering of British fans did their best to make themselves heard as Joshua came to the ring but this a mere whisper of the Wembley roar. The 02, even. The Saudis took sides and away we went. 

After all the speculation about his weight, Ruiz looked only a little heavier than before. The leaner Joshua was moving better and was winning the first with his jab before he clinched the round with the first big right of the night.

Ruiz had been cut beside the left eye by that Joshua right and as the blood seeped the wound became a target for the left jab. But Ruiz finally uncorked a right of his own and now Joshua was cut also by the left eye. 9-10.

Joshua moving so much better without the muscle bulk and boxing according to plan. Jab, move, another round in the bag.

Ruiz working to close distance and although he was caught by a hefty right and left from Joshua he finished on the two-fisted assault to win his first round on my card.

The jab-plan still working well for Joshua and that weapon opened the Ruiz cut again.

By the sixth, confidence was growing now in AJ, dancing a la Ali. Frustration for Ruiz and a long lead now for Joshua. Joshua opened up with a couple of big rights in the seventh and the chant of AJ, AJ, filled the desert night.

Hardly a thriller but if Joshua kept boxing like this he would win comfortably and without fuss or commotion unless he went knock-out hunting. Which he was suddenly tempted to do and punished for his trouble. 

Ruiz rocked him twice to change the complexion of the fight slightly and trainer Rob McCracken screamed at him from the corner to get back to the basics.

Joshua followed orders and his corner breathed easier and even though he shipped one big right, he put the score decision beyond doubt. A knock-out all that’s left for the fading champion.

It was a procession in the tenth. He toyed with the Mexican who shocked the world just six months ago.

The it was same old, same old. Ruiz chasing, Joshua picking him off expertly and throwing in a bit of jab and hold to go with the jab and run to eke up the time in the 11th.

And so to what should be the lap of honour in the final round…..on his toes…a little flurry of excitement at the finale. Thank you Riyadh and goodnight.

Clash On The Dunes. They should have called it Desert Storm III.

ajay
Sports freak at your door step

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