12/07 18:28 CST 'Simplicity is genius': Joshua boxes smart to reclaim titles
'Simplicity is genius': Joshua boxes smart to reclaim titles
By STEVE DOUGLAS
AP Sports Writer
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) --- Anthony Joshua jumped up and down in the ring
with his massive entourage, celebrating being around $70 million richer and
having three world heavyweight belts back in his possession.
For the British boxing superstar, it was well worth this controversial trip to
In the first heavyweight title fight to be held in the Middle East, Joshua
toyed with an out-of-shape Andy Ruiz Jr. over 12 unspectacular rounds to win a
unanimous points decision, reclaim the WBA, WBO and IBF belts, and avenge a
stunning upset by his Mexican-American opponent six months ago.
Joshua got his game plan spot on, using his lighter frame to outmaneuver Ruiz,
relying on his longer reach to stay clear of trouble, and selecting his moments
to go on the attack.
In the final seconds of a bout fought in the early hours of Sunday in a
relatively cool 19 Celsius (66 F) for this part of the world, Joshua was almost
running around the ring and Ruiz --- exhausted and outfought --- was planted in
the middle, urging him to come closer.
"Sometimes simplicity is genius. I was outclassing the champion," Joshua said.
"I am used to knocking people out, but last time I got hurt so I gave the man
his credit. I said I would correct myself again."
Two judges gave the fight to the Briton 119-110, and the other awarded it to
Ruiz put on 15 pounds since the first fight to weigh in at 283 pounds (128
kilograms), making him the second heaviest boxer to fight for a world
heavyweight title. He said he hadn't prepared hard enough for the rematch and
got "boxed around."
"The partying got the best of me," Ruiz said of his brief time as champion,
during which he also went on talk shows, had an audience with the Mexican
president and bought new cars for himself and his parents.
"I didn't prepare how I should have. I gained too much weight. I don't want to
give excuses, he won ... If we do a third fight, you best believe I'm going to
get in shape. I'll be in the best shape of my life."
Whether Joshua agrees to that remains to be seen. There is no rematch clause
this time round and Ruiz, short with quick hands, is an awkward opponent.
Joshua proved he had another side to his boxing skills other than a big punch.
His career is back on track, for sure, but his reputation might be sullied for
The fight was played out to a backdrop of concerns that Saudi Arabia was using
this and other big sporting events to divert attention from its human-rights
violations. They include the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year in
the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Joshua has shrugged off concerns that he was being used in what some, like
human rights organization Amnesty International, called a "sportswashing"
exercise, and he thanked Saudi Arabia for hosting the fight afterward.
Women who attended the fight at the outdoor, purpose-built, 15,000-capacity
Diriyah Arena did not appear to be segregated, as they have been in sports
stadiums in Saudi Arabia since being allowed into them for the first time last
Indeed, it felt just like any other venue once the action got underway, with a
pro-Joshua crowd chanting the usual repertoire of songs about their fighter and
jeering Ruiz. To make Joshua feel even more at home, there was a rare downpour
of rain in the desert just before the fight and at times during the afternoon.
Ruiz knocked down Joshua four times on the way to a seventh-round win in New
York in June that was regarded as one of the biggest upsets in the history of
There was none of that drama in the rematch, with Ruiz rarely connecting
cleanly with Joshua. When he did, it was with punches to the back of the head
that earned him a ticking-off from the referee.
Ruiz finished the fight with blood across his face, having been caught with a
right hook by Joshua in the first round.
There were straight lefts from Joshua in the fourth and ninth that rocked Ruiz
back, and a right hook in the fifth that also hurt the deposed champion.
"I just wanted to put on a great boxing masterclass and also show the sweet
science of this lovely sport. It's about hitting and not getting hit," Joshua
"Sometimes with certain fighters you have to box smarter. I understand what
Andy brought to the table so I had to decapitate him in a different way."
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Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80