Andy Ruiz Jr v Anthony Joshua 2: Joshua wins back IBF, WBA, WBO & IBO World Heavyweight Championship belts

Anthony Joshua celebrates after beating Andy Ruiz Jr
Anthony Joshua celebrates after beating Andy Ruiz Jr

Anthony Joshua survived a desert storm to wrest back his world heavyweight titles with a unanimous points win over Andy Ruiz Jr at the Diriyah Arena in Saudi Arena.

Joshua stuck to his back-foot game plan to pick off a clear 118-110 (twice), 119-109 verdict in a bout that boasted little of the five-knockdown drama which saw him lose to Ruiz in June.

In a bout which had been threatened with delay by a rare desert rain-storm moments before they took to the ring, the champion banked almost entirely on landing another big left money-shot.

Second time round, a more composed and disciplined Joshua for the most part resisted the urge to join Ruiz in battle, and there was no doubt as to the clear winner once the bell ended the final round.

Confirmation of Joshua's win was greeted with roars of approval from a capacity 16,000 crowd in the purpose-built venue in the ancient Saudi capital, which was hosting a major title fight for the first time.

Speaking in the ring, Joshua said: "This is about bossing. I'm used to knocking guys out and the last time I realised, hang on a minute, I hurt the man and I got caught coming in, and there were no excuses.

"I said I was going to correct myself and come again. I'm hungry and humble in defeat and I want to remain hungry in victory."

Joshua refused to rule out a third fight against Ruiz.

"He wants to go again - he's a warrior," Joshua told Sky Sports. When asked if he would consider taking on Ruiz for a third time, Joshua added: "Without a doubt.

"Man the first time was so nice, I had to do it twice! A man like me makes no excuses, this is about boxing, I'm used to knocking guys out. I got caught last time, no excuses, I gave him the credit.

"I respect Andy and his trainer so much, I wanted to show the sweet science of this lovely sport. Stay hungry, stay humble. I'm humble in defeat and will stay humble in victory. Careers are all about experience, I took my loss and bounced back, anyone can do it."

Joshua later on BBC 5 Live: "It's not about me, this is about the public and boxing, British worldwide boxing. We made history here. We opened the floodgates for more and more boxing worldwide.

"I can box, I can really box but I like to fight. I'm a warrior at heart. When you are used to knocking a man out, sometimes it may happen to you.

"I knew I would correct my wrongs, I'm a man who learns from his mistakes."

An extraordinary promotion beset by accusations by human rights organisations of so-called 'sportswashing' saw Joshua pocket a record £60million purse with the promise of more Middle East fights to come.

As if the bout needed any additional hype, opinion had been split over its outcome, with many believing Ruiz simply had to land another of his crude left hands to take the titles back home to the US-Mexican border.

And, while the atmosphere could not match those summoned in British football stadiums, there was certainly a liveliness amongst a local audience that eclipsed the routine atmosphere of most Las Vegas casinos.

Joshua rewarded them with a performance which seldom deviated from the script as he skated out of trouble against a much heavier opponent whose extra luggage clearly minimised his chances of retaining his title.

But men were cut around their left eyes in the first two rounds and it took until the fourth round for the bout to burst into life with an exchange on the bell which served as a timely reminder of the danger posed by the champion.

Racking up the rounds on the scorecards, Joshua nevertheless showed an occasional propensity to switch off, allowing Ruiz rare and tantalising glimpses of a repeat success.

Every time Joshua was drawn in close the momentum swung in Ruiz's favour and a left-right combination in the ninth served as another example as the Mexican instantly responded by dragging the challenger into danger.

Ruiz showed his frustration in the bout's final seconds as he stood in the centre of the ring beckoning Joshua to engage, and when the final bell sounded the Briton raised his arms to vindicate his emphatic victory.

Ruiz admitted his preparation for the fight was far from ideal.

"It was his night. I didn't prepare how I should have, I gained too much weight," he told Sky Sports.

"I don't want to give too many excuses, he boxed me around. If we do the third, best believe I get in the best shape of my life.

"(The weight) affected me. I thought I'd feel stronger, thought I'd feel better. I tried to train myself, but I don't want to give no excuses. Anthony Joshua did a hell of a job.

"Who wants to see the third trilogy fight?"

Ruiz Jr v Joshua 2: The reaction

Eddie Hearn: "Anybody who knows him knows he's the nicest bloke you could ever meet," Hearn told BBC Radio 5 Live. After Madison Square Garden it was a humiliation; it was his New York coming out party, he went down four times.

"People wrote him off, people said he was useless, said he should quit, people said he had no heart, people said he had no endurance.

"He went back to work and brushed himself down and tonight he made history and became a two-time heavyweight champion of the world.

"It was an absolute masterclass, it was a shutout, a way of boxing that people didn't believe he could do. The level of discipline was incredible."

BBC Radio 5 Live's boxing pundit Steve Bunce: "Ruiz knows he's been the victim of a masterclass tonight. As bad as Ruiz was, Joshua was absolutely clinical. He had the opportunities, he's stuck to a plan - beautiful to watch.

"He got it right in some spectacular style. He has been nasty and mean. Mission accomplished."

Former world super-middleweight title contender Paul Smith: "Very disciplined and dominant performance from Anthony Joshua", while two-time Olympic champion Nicola Adams said Joshua "smashed it".

Former WBC super-middleweight champion Richie Woodhall: "That's his Olympic pedigree of working an opponent out and boxing to his strengths.

"Take nothing away from Joshua, that was clever - well done to him and (trainer) Rob McCracken.

"Ruiz was too heavy and he was too slow on his feet. Joshua made his mistakes in the first fight and he came unstuck.

"This time he said 'this is the way I win this fight, I'll win in the distance and you come to me'. It takes fantastic skill - he did it very well indeed."

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