Yesterday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Anthony Joshua won back the WBO, IBO, IBF, and WBA heavyweight Championship titles from Andy Ruiz Jr.
The fight lasted for the full twelve rounds, which resulted in a decision that had to be made. All three judges ruled Joshua the winner: Glenn Feldman (U.S.) and Benoit Roussel (Canada) gave him a 118-110 win and Steve Gray (U.K.) gave him an even wider score of 119-110. It was quite apparent that Joshua was going to win after he won every round up until the 8th unless Andy Ruiz would knock him out. And unfortunately for him, that did not happen.
Ruiz showed some positive traits in his loss. His blocking made it incredibly hard for Anthony Joshua to land a punch, especially in the earlier rounds. He obviously had the element of quickness against his opponent, despite his size. Perhaps the most intelligent strategy that Andy executed was that he was always advancing, never leaving middle ring.
Anthony Joshua was able to take advantage of Ruiz’s weaknesses though. Since their first fight, Andy Ruiz gained 15 pounds — weighing 283 lbs. at his weigh-in — as opposed to Joshua, weighing in at 237, 10 pounds lighter. Because of this, A.J. was able to exhaust Ruiz before he grew tired.
Ruiz was called for a few dirty hits in the fight when the two fighters were leaning on each other. In his defense, Joshua was hugging quite a bit to try and stop him from making a few solid combos.
Anthony Joshua, however, looked like a completely different fighter than we saw June 1st at the Madison Square Garden. Because he leaned up, he was floating like a butterfly. It was the occasional snapping jabs, on top of the weight difference, that eventually began to build against Ruiz’s stamina.
Joshua seemed to have taken things for granted in his first fight, which could have been part of his motivation to lose weight, in him winning the title. But it wasn’t in a similar fashion of some of the great heavyweights like Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, or George Foreman. At the end of the fight Andy Ruiz signaled Anthony Joshua to step in farther in the ring to fight some more, but Joshua declined. He had already won most of the rounds on the cards, so why would he? Honor. Honor would have helped his case because he won by the books, but I’ll bet that in Andy Ruiz’s mind the fight is undecided. Anthony would not commit to a full combo throughout the whole match, like other previous heavyweight champions. In that sense, it was not an all-out brawl.
Now that Anthony Joshua has reclaimed his belts, one might only imagine that he will go back and take a break before fighting. But Andy Ruiz Jr. has to prove himself again. He isn’t going to be a one-hit wonder — his future looks bright.
If someone can last twelve rounds in a ring with an opponent six inches taller (6′ vs 6’6″) and 46 lbs. lighter, that shows incredible commitment and perseverance, which is the most important quality in boxing.
Photo by quapan on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hinkelstone/33963520180