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Joshua outpoints Ruiz to regain titles

By Robert Ecksel on December 7, 2019


      Joshua may have floated like a butterfly, but rarely stung like a bee. (Getty Images)

Saturday night at Diriyah Arena in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, Anthony Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs), the former unified heavyweight champion from Watford, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom, outpointed WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. (33-2, 22 KOs), from Imperial, California, to regain the belts he lost six months ago at Madison Square Garden in the Upset of the Year.


The final scores after 12 one-sided rounds were 119-109 and 118-110 twice.


Fighting out of the red corner in red and white trunks, Joshua came into the bout weighing 237, 11 pounds lighter than in their first fight, and looked less like a bodybuilder than a natural born athlete. Instead of the knockout artist we’d grown accustomed to, his strategy was to stick and move, tactically keeping his distance and the roly-poly Californian at the end of his jab.


Ruiz, fighting out of the blue corner in gold trunks, tipped the scales at a whopping 283 pounds, 16 pounds more than when he dethroned Joshua six months ago. The good life must have been good to Ruiz, who was entitled to live it up, but it hampered his ability to cut off the ring and land more than a fistful of meaningful punches.


From the opening to closing bell, Joshua dominated the fight. His performance was exemplary, but it was neither dramatic nor exciting. Both men were cut about their left eyes, Ruiz in round one and Joshua in round two, and both men shrugged it off. Ruiz continued to press forward. Joshua continued to use the ring, to rely on his feet to keep out of harm’s way and his opponent’s plodding attempts to prove that the victory in New York City wasn’t a fluke.


The man Joshua most resembled in terms of strategy was Wladimir Klitschko. Joshua didn’t mix it up. He didn’t engage or trade punches. Rather, he jabbed, jabbed, jabbed, throwing an occasional right hand or hook, while never going to Ruiz’s oh-so-soft body. He never seriously hurt Ruiz, whereas appeared to rock Joshua the few times he landed a solid blow. But the now two-time champion held Ruiz even more than I held my wife, smothering his punches and bad intentions at the same time.


Joshua may have floated like a butterfly, but failed to sting like a bee.


There were plenty of sheiks sitting ringside who appeared to enjoy the show. But the fight was a bit of a stinker that failed to live up the hype. Having no scantily clad round card girls strutting around the canvas, this being Saudi Arabia, was a major disappointment, as there was nothing left to see but the fight.


When it was over, Joshua defended his game plan. He said, “This is about boxing. I’m used to knocking guys out. 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. Sometimes simplicity is genius.”


Ruiz was less sanguine. “I didn’t prepare as I should have,” he said. “I think the partying and all that stuff got the best of me. I gained too much weight. It affected me a lot. Next fight I’m going to be prepared.”


If Ruiz has his way, his next fight will be a rubber match against Anthony Joshua. But if AJ hopes to hold onto all those belts, he has to mandatories to face, or risk being stripped of his titles.

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