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Joshua shows boxing acumen to regain world titles from Ruiz Jr

Joshua shows boxing acumen to regain world titles from Ruiz Jr

07/12/2019 at 21:49Updated 07/12/2019 at 23:20

Anthony Joshua became a two-time world champion with a unanimous decision victory over Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia on Saturday night.

The 30-year-old out-boxed his opponent from first bell to last and Ruiz ended the fight with a cut above his left eye while Joshua barely bore a mark of the contest.

Ruiz Jr had been a late replacement for Jarrell Miller when he stunned the Brit in June but after a full camp preparing for his opponent, the new world champion had answers for every question he was asked.

He will now await the result of the February 22 rematch between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder and attempt to make a fight with the winner to unify, at last, the heavyweight division.

Ruiz was cut in the very first round of the fight

Ruiz was cut in the very first round of the fightGetty Images

Joshua had weighed in at his lightest ever mark in a world title fight, dipping under 17 stone for the first time in five years, hoping to improve his speed and sharpness.

By contrast, Ruiz's reading of more than 20 stone almost caused a reweigh because the figure was so staggeringly high.

The Mexican-American had not topped the 280-pound mark since his very early days as a professional but seemed unperturbed by the extra kilos, even with a ring that reportedly measured 22 feet, two square feet more than would be allowed under British regulations.

The challenger, a moniker Joshua had not worn since 2016, made good use of the extra space in the first three rounds, dancing on the outside of the bout and making Ruiz miss with regularity.

Joshua was occasionally vulnerable on the inside but repelled Ruiz

Joshua was occasionally vulnerable on the inside but repelled RuizGetty Images

Joshua was not afraid to throw either though, opening up a sizeable cut above the left eye of Ruiz in the very first round with a straight right, set up by the jab.

The Brit had been boxing the perfect fight but Ruiz was warming to the task, eating up more of the space between the two in the third round and genuinely hurting his opponent in the fourth, a fine right hook and then a short left on the inside.

But it did not upset Joshua's rhythm and he continued to box with discipline on the outside, behind his lengthy jab. His only change-up was to throw a lead left hook to try to catch Ruiz on the way in.

Joshua retained control of the fight through the halfway mark but Ruiz boxed his way back into the fight and troubled the challenger at close-range, perhaps earning just his second round of the contest in the eighth.

Our view - Joshua wins 118-110

We have seen Joshua produce this performance before, when he beat Joseph Parker at the Principality Stadium. It was the first time he had been forced to go all 12 rounds as a professional, because he refused to come in to Parker's range.

Ruiz is a similarly shorter and faster man, whom he clearly underestimated in the first fight. The Brit had learned the lessons of the defeat in New York and boxed behind his fine jab.

Despite Olympic gold, he does not have the amateur experience of the likes of Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder, and if he wants to unify the belts, he will likely have to go through one of them, and once again show he can learn to be a boxer, not just a fighter.