On Saturday, Dec. 7, British boxing megastar Anthony Joshua regained the IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight titles after outboxing Andy Ruiz over the course of 12 rounds to win a wide unanimous decision in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. The judges scored the bout: 119-109 and 118-110 (X2), all in favor of Joshua.
In June, Ruiz pulled off one of the biggest upsets in modern boxing history when he stopped Joshua in seven rounds in to spoil Joshua’s American debut at Madison Square Garden. Many compared Ruiz’s upset victory to Buster Douglas’ upset win over Mike Tyson in 1990. But like Douglas, Ruiz appeared to be unable to show the same dedication he had before winning the title, as he came in at 283 pounds — 15 pounds heavier than the first fight.
Meanwhile, Joshua came in nearly 11 pounds lighter than he did in his first meeting with Ruiz, at 237. The weight loss seemed to help Joshua in the rematch, as he remained light on his feet for the duration of the fight.
Despite the harsh weather in Diriyah, the event continued as planned.
In the opening round, Joshua cut Ruiz over the eye with a clean right hand. However, in the second, Joshua was cut over the eye as well. But the cut did not bother Joshua at all, as he continued to box a disciplined fight for the rest of the early rounds.
Joshua’s dominance continued until the eighth round, when Ruiz finally closed the distance and landed some hard power shots. A frustrated Ruiz was unable to keep his success going though, as Joshua came back in the remaining rounds and boxed consistently.
The championship rounds followed suit, with Joshua dancing and jabbing until the final bell, winning a wide decision.
With Joshua’s rebound win, buzz for a fight between Joshua and the winner of Wilder-Fury II will undoubtedly continue to develop.
In the co-headliner, (there was a swing fight before the main event: a first round knockout win for Diego Pacheco) top heavyweights Michael Hunter and Alexander Povetkin fought to a competitive split-draw after 12 rounds. The judge's scorecards read: 115-113 (Povetkin), 115-113 (Hunter) and 114-114.
Hunter opened quickly in the first round, rattling Povetkin with a series of right hands to clearly win the round. But for the rest of the early rounds, Povetkin increased the pressure, occasionally landing right hands that appeared to hurt the former cruiserweight.
In the fifth round, Povetkin nearly knocked Hunter down, sending him into the ropes with a hard right hand. The rest of the middle rounds were evenly contested, and were most likely the rounds that contributed to the draw result.
As he began to tire, Povetkin started to hold virtually every time he was in close with Hunter. Luckily for Povetkin, the referee decided not to deduct points.
As the fight continued into the championship rounds, Hunter began to land more often.
Then, in the 11th, Hunter staggered Povetkin with a series of clean right hands and fought his best round since the first. But in the 12th and final round, both men appeared gassed and were unable to separate themselves from one another to make one final impression on the judges.
In the bout before the co-main, former WBC interim heavyweight champion Dillian Whyte outpointed Mariusz Wach over 10 rounds to earn his 11th consecutive win. The ringside judges scored the fight 98-93 and 97-93 (X2).