Anthony Joshua is back– not the destructive AJ of his early career as he moved up in class, although the first Ruiz fight was an aborration, but the return of the thinking boxer. Faced with a foe who’d devastatingly ripped the title from him six months earlier, he went back to school, worked out a gameplan and stuck to it. The term ‘masterclass’ has been used in the last 36 hours. This wasn’t quite that, but it sure was impressive and he categorically got the job done.
Andy Ruiz Jr disrespected himself and the heavyweight title – by punishing the scales at over 20 stone, some 15lbs heavier than six months previous, he brought back the James ‘Buster’ Douglas meek surrender of a new champion. One who literally ate himself out of retaining it. There are worse cases in the last century but in today’s high tech world with dieticians, physios and advisors at a drop of a hat, this was largely inexcusable. His achievement of this and post fight excuses “making no excuses” was disappointing.
The Saudi’s want more – the young Prince Abdul Azziz of the Saudi Royal family is an iconic figure amongst the young of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They say (as the Chair of KSA’s General Sports Authority) he sees sport as a way of engaging with the rest of the world and is also a talented sportsman himself. Alongside the Deriyah boxing arena is an international tennis tournament arena and, added to recent motor racing events, they want more. After Saturday, they certainly want more of Anthony Joshua. The arena rang out with his name, prompted by Brits, but followed loudly by the locals.
The Heavyweight division is the deepest for some time – Yes, AJ does hold four world sanctioning belts, but there are also two guys still out there legitimately calling themselves ‘World Champion’. In the triumpheret of Joshua, Wilder and Fury you have fighters who arguably on any given night could beat each other. Just below that we have the soon to ‘hopefully’ be renewed WBC mandatory contender Dillian Whyte. Throw in Oleksander Usyk, Daniel Dubois, Derek Chisora and those showcased on Saturday (Hrgovic, Majidov and Hunter). Plus, a returning Ruiz Jr and perennial contenders Ortiz, Pulev and Povetkin. It all adds up to some great fights in 2020.
Dillian Whyte deserves respect – carrying the threat for half the year of his chosen profession being taken away from him ‘The Bodysnatcher’ ends it with two testing victories. No one wanted to fight undefeated Oscar Rivas whom he outpointed in the summer and, on Saturday, he defeated teak tough Mariusz Wach on three weeks notice. Add in the unsubstantiated and premature condemnation from some sections of the media and this man deserves a world title shot, and now.