By Tré Berry III🖊️
The brand new 🏟️stadium built for this event in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia was doused with a heavy dose of 🌧️rain throughout the entire event. Fortunately for 🥇🇬🇧Anthony “AJ” Joshua (23-1-0, 21KO👊), the lingering black cloud hanging over his head from his upset loss to 🇲🇽🇺🇸Andy “Destroyer” Ruiz (33-2-0, 22KO👊) back on June 1st was lifted off him by his most intelligent performance to date, where he methodically picked away at Ruiz’s weaknesses, and picked him apart through the duration of 12 rounds toward a wide Unanimous Decision victory to regain the WBA, WBO & IBF Heavyweight Titles back in his possession.
During one of the face-offs this week leading up to the fight, Anthony Joshua asked Andy Ruiz a strange question. That question referred to was “how do I beat you?” while was taken aback by the question itself, it looked like Joshua and his team had the answers all along after watching this fight, and used it to their full advantage in staying within the pocket of what AJ is capable of doing best aside from landing the thudding power. A quick analysis of Andy Ruiz, he has very fast hands, arguably the fastest hands of the Heavyweight division today, however he always had slow feet. How did Joshua & 🗣️Head-Trainer Rob McCracken decide to deal with it? well they decided that the lone place where Ruiz is dangerous at, and where they got into trouble the first time was when you park middle distance in his range to where Andy can get the fast hands off to get you, so Joshua for this one (of course tipped off by Joshua losing 10 lbs of muscle) was constant side to side stepping, various changing of levels, using better defensive positioning, and keeping the distance wide by using a far more responsible jab than that of 🗓️June 1st, and it made a world of a difference.
The fight opened up, and you could clearly see that Ruiz was surveying Joshua in middle distance to see what he was going to bring to the table, and Joshua showed immediately that he wanted to take full ring generalship of the fight, and to be first in letting his hands go – responsibly. Towards the the back-end of the 1st round, Joshua landed a right cross that somewhat stunned Ruiz and opened up a cut over his left eyebrow ridge. While the cut was opened up early, cuts did not play a central role throughout the duration of the fight – however it did symbolically serve its purpose that Joshua was looking to come in sharp, and that Ruiz would have to deal with a man dead-set on acquiring his belts back. Ruiz opened the same type of cut over Joshua’s left eye in the second round, which gave the optics of a fight taking place. Ruiz spent the duration of time trying to cut the ring off, though having problems doing so with Joshua’s constant side to side angular foot movement, so Joshua stuck to that game plan and worked the jab, periodically firing the right hand every once in a while to keep “The Destroyer” honest. By about round 5, it looked like Ruiz was getting a little bit closer in his range, and started to land sporadic 💣bombs that gave us a reminder that Ruiz can be dangerous at all times if you’re Joshua due to the punching power, and some of the vulnerabilities in taking a punch displayed by Joshua in times past. Fortunately for AJ, he showed plenty of poise, mental endurance and concentration to stick to what was working for most of the night.
There were certain times in the middle rounds where Joshua’s confidence started to 📈grow to where he started exchanging punches with Ruiz, but a couple times he was quickly reminded that was not the way to go as Ruiz buzzed and wobbled him a couple of times, most notably in the 8th round by landing a chopping right hand on the inside that staggered Joshua’s legs a bit, forcing Joshua to fully engage in clinching, and circling out to stay out of the firing range. This time, although stung, he took the single shots well enough and avoided Ruiz stringing the big combinations together to put him down. Continuing the theme, Joshua landed a couple beautiful 3 punch combinations in the 9th round, but stuck around too long and was 💥clipped with a whopper of a shot by Ruiz that forced him to back-peddle. Down the stretch, understanding that he was falling behind the 🎱8 ball, Ruiz opened up a little more with his power shots, but he couldn’t consistently find a fleet-footed Joshua, and AJ down the stretch of the fight showed range mastery that Ruiz could not deal with. With about ⏲️15 seconds to go, Andy motioned with his hands for AJ to come in and trade to the final bell, but Joshua did not take the bait and continued his movement outside, a final symbolism that Joshua was the boss in there and was to dictate his own terms through 36 minutes, and in large, he did just that.
We all know what we had ultimately seen, so the scorecards at this point was for academic purposes. A stoic Joshua awaited the decision to be made, and Ring Announcer 🗣️Michael Buffer revealed 3 wide scorecards in favor of the Brit, thus Anthony Joshua regaining his WBA, WBO, IBF Title Belts, and regaining some respect lost in the first fight by some pundits who were figuratively looking to throw dirt on his name if Andy Ruiz was successful in getting a repeat outcome.
Joshua was celebratory, but remained humble after he was able to get a hold of his belts, congratulated Andy Ruiz, and hinted at a third fight as Ruiz was clamoring for one as he stepped up to the 🎤microphone as he was called over by Joshua to address a question that Anthony had asked him. We will see what comes of it, but if it does come to fruition, Ruiz and his Head-Trainer 🗣️Manny Robles & his team will have to take a long look at addressing Ruiz footwork to be able to offset anyone with the capability to stick the jab and move, as was evidenced here today.
A solid, workmanlike and cerebral performance by Joshua, which was indicative to a piece that we had put together a couple of days ago called “Things We’ve Noticed: The Resourceful Bounce Back Nature of the Olympic Gold-Medalist” that focused solely on those with esteemed amateur pedigrees being capable of honing in on a completely different gameplan to deal with an opponent by using their acumen obtained through their vast experiences at the amateur level. A heads-up for what may be on the horizon. The WBO has mandated that Anthony would have to face #1 challenger ♛🥇🇺🇦Oleksandr Usyk as a mandatory challenger within a 180 day span from today. Also on the ledger, the IBF also now mandates that Joshua would have to face their #1 mandatory challenger 🇧🇬Kubrat Pulev. With those 2 mandatory challenges on the line, and putting Joshua on the clock, unless he and Promoter 🗣️Eddie Hearn can strike a deal to postpone one of the obligations to fulfill each in succession, Joshua will lose one of his belts as he makes a decision which option to take. It does not sound like a fair deal the way it is constructed, but that is boxing politics at the forefront. As of today, Joshua could care less about it as he has secured what he personally felt was the 2nd biggest win of his career against Ruiz, following his fight against Heavyweight legend ♛🥇🇺🇦Wladimir Klitschko, where he learned a litany about himself, and formed a mentor/student relationship with, which in return helped him out in this Ruiz re-match, where Klitschko kept Joshua grounded and reminded him of what he needed to do to put him in the best position to regain his status in the Heavyweight division.
FINAL PUNCH-STATS 🥊🥊
🤜 Anthony Joshua = 107/373, 28.7% Landed.
🤜 Andy Ruiz Jr. = 60/261, 23.0% Landed.
OFFICIAL SCORECARDS ✎🗒️
✎ Glenn Feldman = 118 – 110 for ANTHONY JOSHUA
✎ Steve Gray = 119 – 109 for ANTHONY JOSHUA
✎ Benoit Russell = 118 – 110 for ANTHONY JOSHUA
PROJECT COMBAT SCORECARDS ✎🗒️
✎ Tré Berry = 117 – 111 for ANTHONY JOSHUA
✎ Jon Uddin =118 – 110 for ANTHONY JOSHUA