Anthony Joshua claimed a decisive victory over Andy Ruiz Jr. six months after the Mexican-American defeated him in a humiliating upset. Amnesty International had criticized Joshua for accepting to fight in Saudi Arabia.
British boxer Anthony Joshua defeated Andy Ruiz Jr. on Saturday, in a highly anticipated heavyweight title rematch in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, dubbed the "Clash on the Dunes."
The two boxers had met in June in New York City, when Ruiz Jr. defeated the Brit in one of the most shocking upsets in the sport.
This time, Joshua handedly won the fight. The British boxer was composed and dictated the pace of the match throughout, leaving Ruiz Jr. no chances except for the possibility of a knockout, which the Mexican-American ultimately could not deliver.
A unanimous points decision after 12 rounds by the judges handed the fight to Joshua, with two scorecards of 119-110 and the other 119-109. The victory meant Joshua regained the WB, WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO heavyweight titles he had lost six months ago.
"It was his night, man," Ruiz Jr. said. The California-based boxer also blamed the loss on his poor physical shape.
"I think I didn't prepare it how I should have. I gained too much weight but I don't want to give no excuses. He won, he boxed me around. If we do the third, I'm going to get in the best shape of my life," the boxer added.
It was a different story for Joshua, who said he adapted his style after June's loss to Ruiz. The pressure was on, as critics doubted the 2012 Olympic champion could recover from consecutive losses.
"You know the saying 'Stay hungry, stay humble,'" Joshua said. "I'm humble in defeat and I'm going to remain humble in victory."
Criticism over location
The fight was the first heavyweight title to be staged in the Middle East and it was part of Saudi Arabia's "Diriyah Season," a series of sports and entertainment events currently taking place in the kingdom.
A 15,000-capacity arena was built especially for the fight and women who attended the event did not appear to be segregated, as they have been in sports stadiums in Saudi Arabia since being allowed into them for the first time last year.
The fight received criticism from human rights organization such as Amnesty International, who said Saudi authorities were trying to use sporting events to launder the country's image and gloss over "egregious human rights violations."
Amnesty criticized Joshua for participating in the fight, but the boxer pushed back and defended his decision.
"I appreciate them voicing an opinion, and it's good to talk about issues in the world, but I'm there to fight. I've actually been to Saudi Arabia and I'm building a relationship, rather than just accusing, pointing fingers and shouting from Great Britain," he said.
jcg/dr (AP, AFP, dpa)