Six months after suffering a devastating defeat that sent shock waves in the boxing world, Anthony Joshua had the chance to redeem his lost glory against Mexican-American Andy Ruiz Jr on Saturday 7 December in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. Joshua did so convincingly in a 12 round fight – albeit without the kind of explosive shots many had anticipated.
It was a day many boxing enthusiasts had been eagerly waiting for. The pivotal rematch, which ended in 12 rounds without an anticipated knockout, gave the Nigerian-born British former World heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua the much needed psychological boost, as well as helped him re-established himself as one of the best heavyweight boxers in history.
Although the fight ended up not being the “Clash of the Dunes,” in terms of the thunderous collision that many had expected, one must accept that Joshua had meticulously learned from his mistakes which cost him the world titles and glory, six months ago. This can be seen in his defence and calculated shots in the latest match.
Joshua’s decision not to celebrate much after his clear win, despite the favourable results from the judges, shows his humbleness. However, some boxing pundits see that as a calculated strategy not to give his opponent Ruis any reason to prolong the rivalry into a trilogy, by asking for a third encounter.
The choice of Riyadh as the venue for the fight cannot be more rewarding for Joshua, who repeatedly received thunderous support from the enthusiastic spectators. More than the support, the fight has become even symbolic to the many Saudis who experienced a steady rainfall throughout the night of the fight – a very rare occurrence in an arid country where an average rainfall in Riyadh is only four inches, with most of the rain falling on Eddie Hearn’s parade. Could the fight and its venue be a good omen for the Saudis, after all?
For Joshua, who had lost more kilos before the match and Ruis, who contrarily gain more weight, both fighters came to the ring with different strategies. With fewer kilos, Joshua wanted to stay agile in the ring while Ruis hoped that his extra weight-gain would help him absorb Joshua’s anticipated explosive shots. In the end, Joshua’s agility and efficiency in the ring produced the best reward.
“I’m used to knocking guys out, but the last time, I got caught coming in. The sweet science of this sport is about hitting and not getting hit. Stay hungry, stay humble.” Anthony Joshua explained after the win in Riyadh, which earned him at least $60 million and the WBA (Super), WBO, IBF and IBO heavyweight titles he lost to Ruiz six months again
Andy Ruiz Jr had to no choice than to swallow the bitter pill and accept his defeat.
“Next time I’m going to get a bit more prepared. Joshua did a hell of a job.” Ruis shrugged.
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