AUTHOR: Star Sports Content


As the dust settles in Saudi Arabia, newly crowned champion Anthony Joshua will land back in London with the WBA, IBF AND WBO world heavyweight titles in his luggage writes Jordan Neild. In 36 minutes on Saturday evening, the former Olympic champion dispelled all the demons from six months ago. Not only did he inflict revenge on Andy Ruiz Jr, he done it in a way that very few people thought he was capable of. He broke Ruiz Jr down round by round and boxed beautifully on his way to a landslide points victory (as advised in our pre fight betting preview).

From the very opening bell, Anthony Joshua was foot perfect. He dominated Ruiz Jr with an authoritative jab and never allowed the champion to build up any momentum. Although people have already tried, it is difficult to pick holes in Joshua’s performance this weekend, very few people outside of his tight knit team expected him to be as dominant as he was.

In truth, Ruiz Jr was disappointing. He weighed in at 20st 2lbs and it showed. He was sluggish and bereft of ideas. He followed Joshua around the ring in an almost novice fashion and allowed him to dictate the pace of every single round. Despite glimpses of success in the middle rounds when he managed to catch Joshua with some solid right hands, Joshua tied him up effectively and nullified the dangerous shots up close, something he failed to do six months ago.

The mood after the fight was completely opposite to six months ago in New York. This time, Joshua was upbeat, talkative and spent hours breaking down the fight with the plethora of media outlets that travelled to Saudi Arabia. In his defence, even when he was beaten (and beaten badly) in the first fight, he made no excuses and gave all credit to Andy Ruiz Jr. The same cannot be said for Ruiz Jr, who spent his entire post fight press conference apologising to his training team, blaming ‘three months of partying’ and admitting he had spent this camp ‘training himself’, not exactly the type of talk you would expect from the heavyweight champion of the world.

Ruiz Jr arrived in the middle east with the look of a confident champion. He strolled around with his ever-growing entourage and was adamant that the weight gain was intentional, he was replacing fat with muscle and was ready to inflict an even more damaging defeat on Anthony Joshua and although they might not admit it now, a lot of respected boxing people believed him. But, with the chance to go down in heavyweight history, Andy Ruiz Jr blew it. Instead of being talked about amongst the biggest names in the division, he has come out of this fight looking like the heavyweight who got lucky once and then got exposed. It remains to be seen if we ever see Andy Ruiz Jr operate at this level again in the future.

For Anthony Joshua, 2020 looks to be a busy one. The WBO and IBF have already called mandatory challengers for him (Kubrat Pulev & Oleksandr Usyk) and if he wants to keep hold of all the world titles, he must face one of them fighters in the first quarter of 2020. Of course, fans want to see the fights with Wilder and Fury but boxing politics may delay them until at least 2021.

Whatever happens in the future, nobody can take what happened on Saturday night away from Anthony Joshua. Despite the doubters, Joshua showed not only tremendous boxing ability but also imperious mental strength. As he wrote the wrongs of six months ago, Joshua proved he is far from a ‘flash in the pan’ champion and at just 30, he has the chance to truly make his mark on the heavyweight division in the coming years.