Boxing

Anthony Joshua v Andy Ruiz result never in doubt as champ rolls back the years

Anthony Joshua was punch perfect as he put Andy Ruiz Jr in his rear-view mirror.

The British heavyweight star revealed before the fight he needed three attempts to pass his driving test as he compared the challenge of facing Ruiz Jr to an exam.

But after a spectacular failure in New York six months ago that saw him lose the WBA, IBF and WBO titles in his first professional defeat, Joshua passed this one with flying colours with a much-deserved unanimous points win.

This was always going to be an edgy evening after the nightmare in New York.

The wet weather came in and there was a feeling a storm was brewing in the desert.

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But Joshua refused to get swept up in it all this time in the purposely-build Diriyah Arena on the outskirts of Riyadh.

From the first bell, the Watford warrior was on his toes after coming in his lightest in five years.

The tactics were clear from the off, box behind the jab and stop Ruiz from closing the distance and turning this into a scrap.

Joshua said he had spoken to Wladimir Klitschko after his first professional defeat on June 1.

It was a performance the Ukrainian would have been proud of.

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Gambling is illegal in this part of the world and Joshua rightly didn’t roll the dice throughout this contest.

His critics will say it was boring. But this was a masterclass of back-foot boxing against a smaller fighter who wanted to rough him up.

Ruiz was all wrong for Joshua back at Madison Square Garden and there was the fear the short heavyweight was his bogeyman.

But he showed here how to negate the fast hands of the feisty fighter born and raised in California.

The Watford man’s jab was impressive from the off but he would also need a right hand to rock Ruiz.

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That came early in the first and it opened up a cut over the 20st bruiser’s left eye.

Joshua didn’t get greedy though, nor did he throughout the bout as Saudi Arabian royalty watched on along with a smattering of travelling Brits.

A small cut over Joshua’s own left eye in the second could have caused panic but his corner worked wonders on it to ensure bloody barely flowed from it.

Ruiz was looking for his chances to close the gaps, but they were few and far between.

Having come in over 20st for this fight, there were concerns he wouldn’t have the same speed to get inside Joshua’s reach advantage.

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He rarely got the chance to prove if he could repeat what happened six months ago.

Those blistering combinations that had a concussed Joshua bamboozled in the Big Apple never really showed up in Saudi Arabia.

When he did get through at the end of the fourth, Joshua seemed slightly stunned but the bell had come at the right time.

Joshua regrouped and got back to the game plan in the fifth.

The jab was a not a weapon of mass destruction but it gave Joshua total control.

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Ruiz couldn’t keep up as he chased the challenger around the ring.

This was no thriller but it was comfortably Joshua’s most accomplished display of boxing in all of his 24 fights.

There were some minor scares like in the eighth when a couple of rights did land from Ruiz.

But Joshua again kept composed and refused to be drawn into a gun fight.

Ruiz was frustrated but he was also feeble.

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The fight was beyond him going into the final few rounds but he never put it all on the line to try to force Joshua into a mistake.

A last ditch plan in the final round was to beckon Joshua into the middle of the ring for a tear up.

Not tonight, not this Joshua.

The Brit star happily skipped away, safe in the knowledge the scorecards would ensure he reclaimed the WBO, WBA and IBF titles.

No need for the spectacular here.

This was all about getting revenge and getting those belts back. Job done.

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