Anthony Joshua has long been one of the most powerful punchers in boxing, but he regained the unified heavyweight title on Saturday in Saudi Arabia by firing his jab and circling out of danger.
Joshua won a unanimous decision over Andy Ruiz to reclaim the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight title belts he lost shockingly to Ruiz in June in New York when Ruiz won by seventh round knockout.
Joshua came out with a plan not to engage Ruiz, who came in 15 pounds heavier at 283 pounds and didn’t seem to fight with urgency. Joshua did not allow Ruiz to get into punching range and he didn’t fight his way off the ropes.
He simply jabbed repeatedly and used his legs to dance out of danger. Joshua won by scores of 118-110 twice and 119-109. Yahoo Sports scored it 118-110 for Joshua.
“Man, the first time was so nice, I had to do it twice,” Joshua said, beaming.
Ruiz had precious few bursts in which he was throwing, let alone landing, hard punches. Ruiz was repeatedly unable to cut off the ring and simply followed Joshua around the ring.
Both men were cut near the eyes early in the fight, but the blood didn’t bother either. Joshua simply used his reach advantage and a jab he’d spent the summer working on in the gym to keep Ruiz at bay.
He came in at 283 and admitted that it was a mistake.
“I didn’t prepare how I should have,” Ruiz said. “I gained too much weight.”
It was clear that he wasn’t quick enough or explosive enough to give Joshua much of a problem. Joshua boxed well, but he did so with precious little resistance from Ruiz, who was slow and uninspired.
Ruiz said he wanted a trilogy bout and Joshua said he had no problem with it, but the far bigger fight would be one against the winner of the Feb. 22 bout in Las Vegas between WBC champion Deontay Wilder and lineal champion Tyson Fury.
Joshua boxed well but was not a big threat. Against Ruiz, though, he did not need to be.
Ruiz-Joshua round-by round analysis
Anthony Joshua (23-1) def. Andy Ruiz Jr. (33-2) via unanimous decision (118-110 x 2, 119-109)
Round 1: The fight begins with the crowd roaring. Joshua opens and is moving and popping a jab. Joshua lands a straight right about a minute in. Ruiz landed a right to the body. In the waning seconds, Joshua lands a straight right and it cuts Ruiz above the left eye. Joshua’s round, 10-9.
Round 2: The pace picked up a bit in the second. Joshua landed a good straight right in the early going that re-opened the Ruiz cut. Ruiz is having trouble closing the distance. Ruiz double jab but Joshua dances away. Joshua lands a left hook. Ruiz right may have cut Joshua. Joshua’s round, 10-9.
Round 3: The action slows in the third, AJ is moving a lot but not punching as much. He lands a couple of jabs that aren’t hard but serve to keep Ruiz at distance. Joshua is circling repeatedly and it bears watching whether he can keep that up. Hook to body by AJ. Joshua’s round, 10-9.
Round 4: Joshua boxing, circling and jabbing. Ruiz can’t get his feet set and is just following AJ around. AJ lands a left to the body. Ruiz has a nice combination in the corner late, as Joshua was starting to open up. Ruiz not throwing nearly enough, but can Joshua sustain the pace with all this movement? Joshua’s round, 10-9.
Round 5: Ruiz simply doesn’t throw in the fifth. AJ circles and Ruiz follows, but he’s not pressuring effectively and he’s not giving Joshua much to worry about. Joshua doesn’t do much, but his flicking jab is the dominant punch in the round. Joshua’s round, 10-9.
Round 6: Not a lot happening in the sixth round. Ruiz isn’t opening up and that’s allowing Joshua to dictate. Ruiz lands a left hook, but AJ takes it well. AJ has a hard left hook. Joshua is picking him apart with the jab. Joshua’s round, 10-9.
Round 7: Joshua makes the seventh look the same as the first six. Slow, measured pace, keeping that jab popping. He lands a right hand that snaps Ruiz’s head back. Ruiz opens a little bit late in the round and lands. Joshua’s round, 10-9.
Round 8: Ruiz begins to fight with urgency. He threw a right hand left hook combination early in the round that stuns Joshua. They exchange and Ruiz gets the best of it. Ruiz lands on the clinch and AJ complains. Ruiz’s round 10-9.
Round 9: Joshua manages to slow the pace in the ninth. He again circles and fires the jab at Ruiz and he’s trying not to engage. Joshua lands a big right and Ruiz responds with a right to the head. But Ruiz doesn’t push the pace and allows Joshua to take the round. Joshua’s round, 10-9.
Round 10: Joshua boxes well, sticking and moving and keeping Ruiz on the outside. Ruiz gets in close twice and fires, but Joshua blocks them. Ruiz does get a right hand to the chin in the middle of the fight, but AJ gets a hard jab in and dances away. Joshua’s round, 10-9.
Round 11: Ruiz is more aggressive, but he’s not a windmill which is what he needs. He needs a knockout and doesn’t seem like he’s going for it. He hands a couple of right hands that win him the round but aren’t enough to really bother AJ. Ruiz’s round, 10-9.
Round 12: Ruiz opens quickly, but falls back into the same trap as in the first 11 rounds. He’s not firing and going for a knockout. He allows AJ to comfortably box and doesn’t give him problems. Joshua’s round, 10-9
Ruiz-Joshua undercard results
Michael Hunter vs. Alexander Povetkin ends in a split draw (115-113, 113-115, 114-114)
Dillian Whyte (27-1, 18 KOs) def. Mariusz Wach (35-6, 19 KOs) via unanimous decision (98-93, 97-93 x 2)
Filip Hrgovic (10-0, 8 KOs) def. Eric Molina (27-6, 19 KOs) via TKO in R3
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