Britain’s Anthony Joshua defeated Andy Ruiz Jr on a unanimous points decision in Saudi Arabia on Saturday to seize back the heavyweight world championship belts he lost to his Mexican-American opponent in a shock upset last June.
The Clash on the Dunes in Diriyah was for the IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO titles and Joshua dictated the pace from the beginning with a measured approach that showed he had learned from the mistakes of the past.
Going into the 12th and final round, Ruiz needed a knockout to pull off another upset but it never came.
The judges scored the fight 118-110, 118-110 and 119-109 to the 30-year-old Briton.
“It was his night, man,” said Ruiz as his six-month reign came to an end, calling also for a third encounter that Joshua seemed to welcome. “If you heard, we’re going to do it a third,” said the taller and more athletic Briton.
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California-based Ruiz had stopped the previously undefeated champion in the seventh round at New York’s Madison Square Garden last June.
Joshua described that shock defeat, to a flabby-looking opponent drafted in as a late replacement, as no more than a ‘minor setback’ and he was happy to make light of it again in victory.
“Man, the first time was so nice, I had to do it twice,” he told the crowd.
“I’m used to knocking guys out but last time I realised ‘hang on a minute, I hurt the man and I got caught coming in’.
“I gave the man his credit. I said to myself I’m going to correct myself and come again.” Another loss in the early hours of Satuday would have sent the 2012 Olympic super-heavyweight champion’s career into freefall, with some saying already after the last fight that the Briton was finished.
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