Anthony Joshua’s skill and discipline were praised after he reclaimed the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles with a unanimous decision victory over Andy Ruiz Jr.
Joshua stuck to his back-foot game plan in Saudi Arabia to pick off a clear 118-110 (twice), 119-109 verdict in a bout that boasted little of the five-knockdown drama which saw him lose to Ruiz in June.
Second time around, a more composed and disciplined Joshua resisted the urge to join Ruiz in battle, and there was no doubt as to the clear winner once the bell ended the final round.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn said his fighter deserved plenty of plaudits for not letting the first loss of his professional career affect him negatively.
“Anybody who knows him knows he’s the nicest bloke you could ever meet,” Hearn told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“After Madison Square Garden it was a humiliation; it was his New York coming out party, he went down four times.
“People wrote him off, people said he was useless, said he should quit, people said he had no heart, people said he had no endurance.
Very disciplined and dominant performance from Anthony Joshua 👏🏼Fitness levels and tactics spot on I hope the ones telling him to sack McCracken are eating humble pie.
— Paul Smith (@PaulSmithJnr) December 7, 2019
“He went back to work and brushed himself down and tonight he made history and became a two-time heavyweight champion of the world.
“It was an absolute masterclass, it was a shutout, a way of boxing that people didn’t believe he could do. The level of discipline was incredible.”
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live’s coverage of the fight, boxing pundit Steve Bunce said: “Ruiz knows he’s been the victim of a masterclass tonight. As bad as Ruiz was, Joshua was absolutely clinical. He had the opportunities, he’s stuck to a plan – beautiful to watch.
— Nicola Adams (@NicolaAdamsOBE) December 7, 2019
“He got it right in some spectacular style. He has been nasty and mean. Mission accomplished.”
Former world super-middleweight title contender Paul Smith wrote on Twitter: “Very disciplined and dominant performance from Anthony Joshua”, while two-time Olympic champion Nicola Adams said Joshua “smashed it”.
Former WBC super-middleweight champion Richie Woodhall said Joshua’s background as an Olympic champion had helped shape his tactics.
“That’s his Olympic pedigree of working an opponent out and boxing to his strengths,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“Take nothing away from Joshua, that was clever – well done to him and (trainer) Rob McCracken.
“Ruiz was too heavy and he was too slow on his feet. Joshua made his mistakes in the first fight and he came unstuck.
“This time he said ‘this is the way I win this fight, I’ll win in the distance and you come to me’. It takes fantastic skill – he did it very well indeed.”