Sweet revenge was gained for the most bankable heavyweight in the world, who avenged his lone career loss with a sound 12-round decision win over Andy Ruiz in their DAZN-streamed title fight rematch Saturday evening in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.

Scores were 119-109 and 118-110 twice for Joshua, who boxed smartly for 12 rounds in the Middle East after suffering a humbling knockout loss six months ago in midtown New York.

England’s Joshua, a 2012 Olympic Gold medalist for Great Britain—entered the ring as a beltless challenger for the first time since April 2016, in the moments before his title-snatching 2nd round knockout of Charles Martin. Everything about his appearance was a clear indication of a return to basics and undeniable focus.

The former unified titlist came into the fight nearly 11 pounds lighter, while California’s Ruiz—attempting the first defense of the titles he acquired in his shocking 7th round knockout of Joshua in June—was a beefy 15 pounds heavier than on the night of the historic upset.

Joshua’s approach was also different, patiently boxing from the outside as a clear sign of respect to the power Ruiz possesses. The tactical opening round produced drama in the final moments, as a sharp right hand by Joshua produced a cut outside the left eye of Ruiz.

The favor was returned by the defending titlist in round two. Joshua continued to box and circle, but Ruiz was able to split the difference, shooting a crisp and quick jab which caught the corner of Joshua’s left eye in also producing a cut.

Whereas the third round of the first fight produced three knockdowns and the leading candidate for Round of the Year, the sequel saw a boxing match break out. Joshua jabbed and utilized lateral movement, while Ruiz moved forward but failed to work his way inside.

That changed midway through round four, as Ruiz stood in the pocket and forced Joshua on his bicycle. Joshua continued to box and move, but was forced to absorb a right hand while Ruiz was able to slip counter shots. Joshua fought with more aggression in the final minute, though it was Ruiz who seized momentum in fighting his way out of clinches and remaining active in the moments where Joshua sought to slow down the action.

Joshua adjusted in round five, flicking his jab and following up with a quick left hook. The absence of a jab from Ruiz made it more difficult than necessary for the defending unified titlist to land anything of the fight altering variety. Blood continued to flow from the eyelid of Ruiz, although Joshua’s desire to stick and move created a missed opportunity to exploit the wound.

It was enough, however, to allow him to bank rounds and with Ruiz unable to change that trend.

The second half opened with Joshua sticking with what worked all night, working his stick and remaining a mobile target. The type of disaster which struck in his career in June never came close to happening on this crisp night in the open air arena in the desert. Instead it was Joshua remaining in control and Ruiz struggling to cut off the ring, or land anything of consequence once he managed to fight at close quarters for much of round seven.

Falling well behind, Ruiz opened up his attack for the first time in the bout. Enough right hands landed to keep Joshua moving in reverse, the Brit not boxing as much but instead playing matador defense. The tactic frustrated Ruiz, who wasn’t nearly as active as was the case in the first case, the lack of momentum shifting knockdowns or comparable landed punches undoubtedly playing a huge factor.

After a late surge by Ruiz in round nine, Joshua reestablished desired distance in round ten. Ruiz grew visibly frustrated, to the point of dropping his hands and daring Joshua to stand and fight. It was never going to happen, not when Joshua was determined to reclaim what was his for more than three years.

Ruiz came out for the 12th and final round clearly aware that he needed a knockout to win. Joshua used it to his advantage, planting his face long enough to rake an overhand right across the grill of his lone conqueror. It was just enough to freeze Ruiz in his tracks and allow Joshua to return to constant lateral movement. Ruiz continued to come forward in the final minute, but unable to land the type of blow that would prevent his reign from becoming one-and-done.

Six months of glory came to an end for Ruiz, who falls to 33-2 (22KOs). Both of his career losses have come in title fight, having dropped a competitive 12-round decision to Joseph Parker in their Dec. 2016 vacant title fight in New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Joshua improves to 8-1 in title fights and 23-1 (21KOs) overall.

Via Jake Donovan / BoxingScene.com

Boxing fans from around the world can flock to the biggest fight of the year – the Clash on the Dunes in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia – to support their heroes Unified WBO Heavyweight Champion Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua after the Kingdom launched new super-fast tourist visas.

On December 7, in the UNESCO heritage site of Diriyah – known as the land of kings and heroes – Anthony ‘AJ’ Joshua will attempt to recapture belts taken from him by Andy ‘Destroyer’ Ruiz Jr in Diriyah Arena, a purpose-built arena for 15,000 fans on the night.

Tickets for this incredible showdown go on sale this Sunday, October 13, at 9pm KSA time (10pm in UAE, 7pm in the UK and 2pm US) and are available at www.diriyahseason.sa.

It will be the first-ever World Heavyweight Title fight ever to be staged in the Middle East and forms part of the month-long ‘Diriyah Season’, a spectacular season of world-class sport, global entertainment, and culture, officially launched on Sunday night at a glittering ceremony in the ancient city, the birthplace of modern Saudi Arabia on the outskirts of Riyadh.

This follows the announcement in recent days that travelers from 49 countries across the world can now secure 90 day tourist visas online in just seven minutes to attend the festival. For more information got to visa.visitsaudi.com.

Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn said: “This is the biggest boxing match on the planet, and it will be taking place in one of the most unique venues ever.

“We already know there is a great passion for boxing in the Kingdom, but AJ and Andy will want their fans to come and support them, from across the region and from the UK and the US and Mexico.

“It’s great news that these tourism visas have been launched, that’s a big step forward for the country and it means that boxing fans wherever they are can come witness an unmissable night. This fight will go down in history as one of the greats.”

Due to the unique venue, being staged outside of the UK or the US, the fight has already seen parallels drawn in the media to some of the most iconic fights in history, such as Muhammad Ali’s fights against George Foreman – “the Rumble in the Jungle” – and Joe Frazier – the “Thrilla in Manila”.

Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki AlFaisal Al Saud, Chairman of the GSA, said: “We have already seen the energy created by boxing when we staged the World Boxing Super Series match last year, this landmark moment – the first World Heavyweight Title fight in the Middle East – now takes that excitement to a whole new level.

“Athletes and audiences can expect to be knocked out by the passionate reception this event will enjoy in the Kingdom, and now, with the launch of tourism visas for 49 countries, it has never been easier for fans from around the world to come be part of history.”

HH Prince Khaled bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Chairman of SCEE, said: “This is a historic moment for Saudi Arabia welcoming the first World Heavyweight Championship. As a nation we have started to pave the way for becoming a global player in the sports and entertainment industry and we have witnessed a real appetite for the boxing sport.

“This is the biggest boxing fight that has taken place in the region to date and we are bringing it to Saudi Arabia on December 7 – the world is watching us and we promise to deliver an unparalleled experience. SCEE are a proud partner of the GSA bringing Clash on the Dunes to Diriyah Season, 2019.”

Tickets for all of Diriyah Season’s spectacular events and entertainment will be available online at www.diriyahseason.sa with Formula E Tickets on sale now, Clash On the Dunes tickets on October 13, and Diriyah Tennis Cup on October 26. Tickets for other events as well as season long tickets will be announced soon. Follow Diriyah Season’s news and announcements on the official social media pages on twitter and Instagram @diriyahseason.

Unified WBO Heavyweight Champion Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua began the promotional tour for their world heavyweight title rematch for December 7 in Saudi Arabia with a news conference in Diriyah that turned out in part to be a PR exercise for the kingdom.

Joshua, who lost his belts in a surprising loss to Ruiz Jr. in New York in June, said it was a ”blessing to be in Saudi Arabia” and that he never thought he would fight outside his native Britain or the United States.

The two boxers smiled at each other as they faced off for cameras.

Further news conferences are planned in New York on Thursday and London on Friday.

This will be the first heavyweight world title fight held in the Middle East.

Via BoxingScene.com / Photos via Matchroom Boxing