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Anthony Joshua: I took it back to the old school to beat Andy Ruiz Jr

Anthony Joshua is proud of his performance, as you’d expect.

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Anthony Joshua is back on top, or at least the WBA, IBF, and WBO heavyweight titles back, following yesterday’s decisive decision win over Andy Ruiz Jr in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.

The 30-year-old Joshua (23-1, 21 KO) had plenty so say about the performance, his future in boxing, and more in the post-fight press conference.

On his approach and game plan for the rematch

“I can knock people out when I want to, and I can box when I want to. Tonight was just about winning and trusting my process. I know maybe I could have done more at times, but sometimes simplicity is genius, and that was the motto: keep it simple, ‘cause it’s going to lead to a genius performance. I was outclassing the current champion.”

“I just took it back to the old school, 70s style, boxing sweet science. Hit and don’t get hit, that’s the name of the game.”

On what makes Ruiz difficult as an opponent and different than those Joshua stopped

“I know he believes in himself, which is very important. He’s very humble outside of the ring; most people that are humble outside of the ring, they’re definitely a threat inside the ring. They don’t need to fake a character or build up a false sense of ego to prove they’re something they’re not. He can definitely fight.”

On the differences between the first and second fights with Ruiz

“It was mainly just the discipline. I had some of my own issues, like Andy said he had his issues. The things that come along with being the champion. Andy’s a really nice guy, so it might have been hard to say no to certain things, as well. I just knew what was always in me. On June 1, I just got beaten by the better man, and I just knew that I belong at a championship level. The belts spent some time with me, the belts spent some time with Andy, and I think the belts realize that they wanna be around my waist, so they came home tonight.

“I’m only champion until the next time I go out. Champions don’t live forever. I have to put them up in the air for the next competitor. You see all of the challengers are hungry. It’s going to be an interesting time in the heavyweight division.”

Giving Ruiz credit for the first fight

“Andy just beat me. Credit to the man. He beat me fair and square. He’s a great fighter, a great champion. He has something special about him. But we reclaimed what was rightfully ours. I got beaten by the better man, and it shows we’re just good as good as each other. He beat me, I beat him, and we move on to the next.”

On getting advice from Wladimir Klitschko between the Ruiz fights

“Nothing to do with strategy, that’s my trainers, but just about mindset. Wladimir Klitschko, even though we’ve been in the ring and we were enemies to a certain degree, I feel like we have a lot of mutual respect. That’s the great thing about boxing is you do go to war, however you shake each others hands after. Me and Wladimir have kept a good relationship. He’s just been in the game such a long time. I keep myself around boxing people who know the game. Any type of information or knowledge can lead you to success, and he passed on a lot of his experiences, which played a part in my mental preparation.”

On what he told Ruiz after the fight in the ring

“I said never give up. Just told him to never give up. It’s tough. He’s a great man, first of all, and he’s a great champion. I told him to never give up and just keep on chasing his dream. Boxing is really tough, but he’s created his own history, created his own legacy, and I created mine tonight. I’m glad we could both play a part in each others legacies, and I just kind of gave him a pat on the back and said, ‘I’m sure I’ll see you again.’”

On any plans to face Ruiz again

“Andy’s still on the list, because I think we make for good music. He’s a good dancing partner.”

On fully unifying the heavyweight division

“I would like to, definitely. I’ve united four [editor’s note: he counts the IBO]. It’s hard, it’s difficult to keep them, it’s difficult to unite them. I’m sure PBC were desperately rooting for Andy to win, but we came and put a little spanner in their works. We’ll see what happens. I would love to unite the belts, but I think me chasing — same as in the fight, sometimes if I’m chasing the right hand and I’m chasing the left hook, it may come crashing down. I realize that chasing that fight wasn’t playing into my benefit. I’m just going to let the path take its course. When the opportunity presents itself to become undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, you know me by now, I’m definitely going to step up.”

On this performance compared to his run of knockouts earlier in his career

“It’s nice to KO, KO, KO. There were times I looked in Andy’s eyes and I wanted to put my fist through his head, but then I thought, ‘This is boxing. I need to win for myself. I need to show people that this is the sweet science of the sport.’ It’s not like a script, this is not wrestling, this is real life, and it’s dangerous. I have to box to my game plan. I trusted my team and followed it through. I took my loss and took it like a man. I understood where I went wrong. When you take an exam and you fail the first time, you study and you prepare better the next time. I knew with all my preparation, education, and discipline, I just knew I was going to pass this exam against Andy.”

On what he learned in 2019

“Nothing new. This is just what I’m built for, I just like fighting. It’s a shame because everyone likes me fighting when I’m winning, but hates me when I lost. But for me personally, looking in the mirror, I just love fighting. I didn’t learn anything new. Before boxing, I was a little fighter. With boxing, I continued to fight. I learned I still love the game. That’s all it is. It’s a really difficult job. I’d love to get in there and smack a man and lay him out, but these are highly-skilled athletes. I just love preparing for a good challenge. I didn’t learn much, except I just love fighting. This is all I have, this is all I’ve got.”

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