Anthony Joshua fought through panicky moments to out-box Andy Ruiz Jr

  • Anthony Joshua just became a two-time heavyweight world champion.
  • The British fighter overcame nervous moments to defeat Andy Ruiz Jr. on Saturday, December 7 at the Diriyah Arena in Saudi Arabia.
  • With a jabbing strategy, Joshua out-pointed Ruiz Jr. and reclaimed his world title belts.
  • After the win, Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn called him the king.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Anthony Joshua reclaimed his world heavyweight titles with a masterful but nervous performance, keeping Andy Ruiz Jr. at bay with a long jab on Saturday in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.

With victory, he moved to 23 wins (21 knockouts) against one loss, but, far more importanly, was able to banish a bad memory. Six months ago, it was a humiliating, crushing defeat. On December 7 in the rematch, with a disciplined and cerebral strategy, he out-thought, out-jabbed, and out-boxed Mexico’s first heavyweight champion.

Considering how easily he was dominated in the first fight, dropped twice in rounds three and seven, concussed, and beaten in his American debut, Joshua had much to adjust, download, and activate in the rematch.

It was not long into the “Clash on the Dunes” when Joshua’s tactics became apparent. With feints — of his upper body, lead jab, even his footwork — it was clear he wanted to use boxing acumen, box at range, and use the full space of the 22-foot ring to frustrate Ruiz Jr., the heavier champion, and make him move and not plant his feet through every minute of every round that the bout would last.

Having exchanged cuts in the opening rounds, Ruiz Jr. found that, when he was able to close the gap, punch in the clinch, he had success. The only problem for him was that it was a type of fight Joshua refused to engage in, happier to instead fight on the move.

With ring generalship, Joshua was able to win all four of the opening four rounds on Business Insider’s unofficial scorecard. It was clear he was wary of the champion, perhaps nervous about having to compete opposite the man who had humiliated him so badly just six months prior, a stiff and long jab alone was enough to win the rounds.

Varying his punch output, Joshua clobbered Ruiz Jr. with a mean hook in the sixth, a punch launched with enough venom that it snapped the Mexican’s head sideways.

Ruiz Jr. had his best moment in the fight in the eighth, swarming Joshua’s head with fizzing shots from fast hands, panicking the challenger completely. It was the first round of the night where the champion out-landed the challenger (12 punches to six), according to Compubox data.

The following round, Joshua did what he could to avoid similar confrontation, instead relying on a Wladimir Klitschko-esque jab-and grab — landing his powerful orthodox lead punch, before initiating an embrace to prevent Ruiz Jr. unleashing a combination.

If the difference between fight one in June and fight two in December was not already apparent, it was clear toward the final third of the bout. If Joshua landed, he would back off and return to the outside, rather than the inside, patiently waiting for another opportunity. If Ruiz Jr. landed, he would do whatever he could to evade rather than engage.

By the time the ringside judges’ scorecards were announced, it was clear it was the correct call. Joshua prevailed by way of unanimous decision with scores of 118-110, 118-110, and 119-109, reclaiming all of the world titles he had lost six months ago, exorcising the demons from humiliation in New York City.

“The first time was so nice, I had to do it twice,” Joshua said after the win, regarding his new status as a two-time heavyweight champion. “Stay hungry, stay humble. I’m humble in defeat, remaining humble in victory.”

Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn lavished praise on Joshua. “You’re the king, trust me!”

Read more:

If Anthony Joshua beats Andy Ruiz Jr. his promoter says he might raise his middle fingers to say ‘f— you’ to all his haters

‘They know what I possess’: Deontay Wilder says Anthony Joshua will keep avoiding him even if he beats Andy Ruiz Jr.

Saudi Arabia’s Andy Ruiz Jr. vs. Anthony Joshua fight is littered with athletes who have been busted for drug use

The $100 million Andy Ruiz vs. Anthony Joshua fight is ‘masking a darker truth’ in Saudi Arabia, and boxing is burying its head in the sand

Wladimir Klitschko says Anthony Joshua should never have lost to Andy Ruiz Jr. and expects him to dominate once again at heavyweight

Deontay Wilder says Andy Ruiz Jr. has Anthony Joshua’s weaknesses all figured out

Insiders are confident Anthony Joshua will beat Andy Ruiz Jr. in style the second time around despite 3 problems ahead of their first fight

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