Anthony Joshua has defeated Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia to reclaim his IBF, WBA and WBO belts and become a two-time heavyweight world champion.
Joshua produced a wonderfully disciplined and controlled performance in a dominant 119-109, 118-110, 118-100 victory over Ruiz Jr in Diriyah to avenge his only professional defeat.
The slimmed-down British boxer controlled proceedings from behind his rangy jab, keeping the dangerous Ruiz out of range for the majority of the bout.
Joshua opened up a cut around the Mexican’s eye in the first round with a monstrous right hand, but suffered a cut to his own eye in the second.
‘The Destroyer’ remained on the front foot in the third, but was frustrated by Joshua’s clever movement and disciplined defence, before Joshua ended the round with an eye-catching combination.
The champion enjoyed more success with his jab in the fourth, and hurt his English opponent with a big overhand right just before the bell.
Joshua landed an excellent left hook in the sixth, despite eating one of his own earlier in the round.
TWO TIME pic.twitter.com/CutWIGDfD8
— Anthony Joshua (@anthonyfjoshua) December 7, 2019
Former Olympic gold medalist ‘AJ’ stung Ruiz Jr with another great right hand in the seventh, but was given a scare in the eighth.
The rivals went toe-to-toe in the middle of the ring, with Ruiz Jr landing some stinging body shots before catching Joshua on the top of the head.
Joshua lost his balance momentarily, but rather than crumble as he did in Madison Square Garden, the Londoner merely smiled.
Ruiz Jr piled on more pressure in the ninth in the knowledge that he was far behind on the scorecards, and caught Joshua with some meaty hooks.
Both fighters traded substantial blows as the round wore on, but Joshua was rarely under significant pressure.
The 30-year-old Englishman controlled the ‘championship rounds’ admirably, snapping Ruiz Jr’s head back with accurate jabs and dancing away from his opponent with ease.
Ruiz Jr caught a crushing right from AJ in the final round, but neither fighter looked like producing a late knockout.
Joshua finished the fight with a wide smile on his face, safe in the knowledge that he had wrenched his belts back from the Mexican.
It was a skillful and measured performance from Joshua, who is now on course for a mouth-watering showdown with the winner of Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury’s rematch in February.
Ruiz Jr – who admitted his weight was an issue in the fight – called for a rematch afterwards, but Joshua will have plenty of options now that he has won back his crown.
The WBO have ordered the new heavyweight champion to face Ukranian Oleksandr Usyk in the next 180 days.
Another possible opponent in 2020 could be Dillian Whyte, who battled to a unanimous decision victory over Mariusz Wach after 23 grueling rounds on the undercard in Saudi.
Alexander Povetkin – who Joshua previously knocked out – drew with Michael Hunter in another thrilling fight on the card.