Joshua back at the heavyweight top table after Ruiz Jr feels the strain in desert rematch

By Sports Desk December 08, 2019

Job done for Anthony Joshua, who once again holds the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles.

The British fighter achieved his aim in the rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr, just about staying far enough away from the kind of trouble that saw him lose the belts in the first place to make amends for the only blot on his professional record.

He could not quite produce the kind of sensational stoppage his opponent managed on a still-scarcely believable New York night back in June, instead choosing to use his physical advantages to dictate from a distance, boxing off the back foot behind a solid jab. Prior to the bout, Joshua had sought out Wladimir Klitschko for advice - this was just the kind of performance Dr Steelhammer would have prescribed during their conversations.

"I took my 'L' and I bounced back," the victor said in the immediate aftermath. While it was far from flashy, the result was really all that mattered for the 2012 Olympic gold medallist.

Hyperbole is so often present in sport, yet it was not too much of an overstatement to state this was a must-win situation for Joshua. Another setback, whether by stoppage or on the scorecards, would have been a disaster. Shock losses are a risk in his line of work – just look at the careers of heavyweight legends Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson – but two defeats on the spin would be tough to overcome.

With that in mind, it made sense for the determined challenger to make absolutely sure history was not repeated. There was simply too much on the line to take any risks. Work commitments forced Jose Mourinho to turn down the offer of a ticket, yet he must have been impressed by Joshua's safety first strategy in the face of such obvious danger.

There were moments during the bout when Joshua had to fight his natural instinct to attack, where he appeared seemingly ready to step into range and follow up a heavy shot with a further barrage, only to realise that was not part of the plan worked on with trainer Rob McCracken. It was as if he had to continually remind himself of the best way to be successful boxing: hit and don't get hit.

My hope is that someone sees my page and decides not to give up. Clean hearts win  pic.twitter.com/yBrHeLq19q

— Anthony Joshua (@anthonyfjoshua) December 8, 2019

It helped his cause that he was up against an opponent who had clearly made the most of his unexpected success.

Having registered over 20 stones on the scales at Friday's weigh-in, Ruiz was unsurprisingly sluggish with his footwork, as if wearing boots full of Saudi Arabian sand, and slow to pull the trigger. At least in defeat his pockets are full, though.

Piling on an extra 15 pounds following the first fight seemed an odd tactic even before the action was under way inside the purpose-built arena. It had taken around six weeks to put the venue together – Ruiz had the opportunity to destroy Joshua's career in the space of six months, in the process proving what unfolded at Madison Square Garden was no fluke.

Instead, once the now-trademark sombrero came off, he was completely overshadowed by Joshua. In more ways than one, there had been too much on Ruiz's plate in the aftermath of that famous triumph in the Big Apple, leading to a lacklustre display that he may live to regret. Despite the beaten boxer stating his desire for the pair to make it a trilogy, a third instalment seems unlikely to be on the agenda for 2020.

And, in turning the focus to next year, you realise that while much went on in the heavyweight division in 2019, not a lot has changed. Deontay Wilder remains the WBC champion, as we tantalisingly wait for that Tyson Fury rematch (fingers crossed for February), while Joshua now once again has the three other major belts in his possession.

Meanwhile, Dillian Whyte – now cleared by UK Anti-Doping - waits for his opportunity to face somebody, anybody, for the chance to get his hands on a world title. Then there is the ultra-talented Oleksandr Usyk, the next in line with the WBO, who has fought just once since moving up in weight.

Maybe the talented Filip Hrgovic – an easy winner against Eric Molina on the undercard in Diriyah – is set to be thrust into major fights, or the promising Daniel Dubois builds on 13 straight wins to make a breakthrough on the global stage.

Despite the strength in numbers and all that has happened in the previous 12 months, the status quo remains the same. By finding the necessary – if unspectacular – way to avenge his first loss, a relieved Joshua knows he once again sits with fellow Brit Fury and the undefeated Wilder as the kingpins among the big men.

Related items

  • Garcia appears to confirm Pacquiao bout Garcia appears to confirm Pacquiao bout

    Ryan Garcia appeared to confirm a fight against Manny Pacquiao, saying it would be "a dream turned reality".

    Garcia (21-0) was reported to be in talks for a bout against Filipino great Pacquiao (62-7-2).

    The American seemed to confirm that fight was going ahead in an Instagram post on Sunday.

    "A dream turned reality," Garcia wrote.

    "It's an honour to share the ring with @mannypacquiao. I will always respect what you did in and out the ring.

    "Here's to the best man winning."

    Garcia fought on January 2, beating Luke Campbell to win the interim WBC lightweight title.

    Pacquiao, 42, was last in action in July 2019 in a split-decision victory over Keith Thurman to win the WBA welterweight crown.

  • Unified welterweight world champion Spence Jr. would love to fight in ancestral home Jamaica Unified welterweight world champion Spence Jr. would love to fight in ancestral home Jamaica

    Undefeated WBC and IBF champion Errol Spence Jr. has expressed the hope of one day fighting in Jamaica, a place to which he still has strong connections.

    Although the 30-year-old pugilist was born in the United States, his father Errol Spence is a Jamaican who still has roots in the town of Axe and Adze in the parish of Hanover.

    Last month, the boxer scored a unanimous victory over number one contender Danny Garcia, in his first fight since a serious motor vehicle accident in 2019.

    While the boxer will be content to relax and enjoy the fruits of his labour, for now, he admits staging a fight in his ancestral home sometime in the future would be a dream come true.

    “I want to fight in Jamaica.  Hope I can make that happen, hopefully, it will be a big event where I still have all of my titles.  It’s something that I really wanted, it something that my dad wanted me to do as well.  It’s something we talked about even when I was an amateur so hopefully, we can make that happen,” Spence Jr. told Talking Sports.

    “I think I will be able to fight there.  I want to be among those great names.  Guys like Mike McCallum, guys that could really fight.  His name was the body snatcher and I’ve watched him sometimes, how he went to the body well, how tough he was.”

    The last major fight in Jamaica came in 2012 when Jamaica's Nicholas 'The Axeman' Walters, defeated Daulis Prescott at Jamaica's National Indoor Sports Centre.

     

     

  • Nobody wants to see McGregor v Pacquiao - Mayweather Nobody wants to see McGregor v Pacquiao - Mayweather

    Floyd Mayweather Jr does not think anyone wants to see Conor McGregor return to boxing to face Manny Pacquiao following the Irishman's defeat to Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 on Sunday.

    Poirier became the first man to knockout McGregor in mixed martial arts with a string of punches to the head during the second round of their lightweight bout in Abu Dhabi.

    It was the former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion's first fight in a year and his second since being submitted by Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018.

    His bout with Nurmagomedov came after he switched to boxing to take on former five-division champion Mayweather, who came out of retirement and put his 49-0 record on the line.

    Mayweather triumphed over McGregor by TKO in round 10, but the Irishman has been linked with a return to the ring to face Pacquiao – an eight-division champion and the WBA welterweight title holder.

    However, it has been reported Pacquiao is closing in on an agreement with Ryan Garcia and McGregor's loss to Poirier will have done his chances of facing the Filipino no good.

    Mayweather likened the prospect of Pacquiao, who he defeated by unanimous decision in their long-awaited welterweight bout in 2015, taking on McGregor as "my leftovers eating leftovers".

    Sharing an image of a post asking why Mayweather is hated for the way he carries himself, but McGregor is loved for acting in the same manner, he wrote: "I seen this post and my take on it is that the world knows Con Artist McLoser can steal everything from me and be loved but I'm hated. That just lets you all know that racism still exist.

    "Just know, that bum will never be me or be on my level. I'm just built different, my mindset is on another planet, my skills are second to none, I'm a natural born winner and yes I talk a lot of trash, but every time I back it up! This is what they hate.

    "It's sad that you can be a poor black kid from the ghetto that has dealt with racism your whole life and work extremely hard to put yourself and your family in a better position, and most of the hate comes from my own people.

    "Conor cannot even win in his own sport, but talking about coming back to boxing to fight Pacquiao. Nobody wants to see that, it's like my leftovers eating leftovers."

    Prior to his fight with Poirier, McGregor said he was committed to a prolonged stint in the UFC's lightweight division.

    Despite his loss, the 32-year-old said he feels there are still plenty of match-ups in the Octagon that interest him.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.