Anthony Joshua set to be ‘more low-key’ after his Arabian night

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By Declan Taylor

What a difference six months make. From being dropped and stopped in what was supposed to be his American dream to becoming two-time heavyweight champion of the world on his Arabian Night.

Anthony Joshua won big on the cards against Andy Ruiz Jr here in Diriyah to reclaim the WBA, WBO, and IBF heavyweight titles with a masterful boxing display, which was arguably the best all-round performance of his professional career.

Given Joshua’s patience, timing, and movement on show here, it was almost unimaginable that the short, fat Ruiz had sent a shockwave through world boxing by flooring him four times in New York on June 1.

But the big Londoner announced his return to the top table of heavyweight boxing and barely gave Ruiz a look-in on a bizarre night when incessant rain and thunderstorms in the third driest country on earth threatened to postpone the event.

But the weather calmed down long enough for the show to go on and Joshua took full advantage to become two-time heavyweight champion of the world.

Now, he says, things will be very different during his second reign.

“It’s going to be more low-key,” he said. “It’s not the show anymore.

“I’m here just to take over. Even though I took my loss, I had to learn, didn’t I? I didn’t lose heart. I’m back again.

We’ve promoted the hell out of boxing in a short space of time. Now I just want to focus on fighting and being a better fighter.

“I’m always going to have to prove myself, aren’t I? That’s the name of the game. Over the next three to six months, I’m going to have to do it again. It’s no good winning this time and losing next time, saying: ‘Look, I won six months ago, let’s look at that.’ But I knew the belts were coming home. They spent some time with me and they spent some time in Andy’s house, and they were crying to come back to daddy.”

Joshua also admitted that the heavyweight crown can weigh heavy and he was not surprised Ruiz took his eye off the ball since that night in Manhattan.

“I can understand that,” he said. “I did it, everyone does it. The belts can be your best friend or your worst enemy. It just depends on you as a person. I just remember hearing Mike Tyson telling people ‘you couldn’t walk in my shoes’. It’s not all what it seems; it’s a life of discipline, dedication and headaches.”

After having the first 22 fights of his career in Britain, Joshua has now not boxed on home soil for 14 months, given his exploits in New York and now Saudi Arabia. Despite his ability to shift tickets back home, the riches on offer in America and even more so in the Middle East might see Joshua’s globetrotting continue.

But he said: “I don’t know, London’s calling. Any time I’m on home soil, I can’t lose. I stepped away and I took my loss, and I put myself together.

Now it’s back home to Finchley, back home to Sheffield, back to the grind. Being back on home soil will make a big difference.

“I love the sport, so we want to promote it, to bring through other athletes who are depending on my success.Putting that pressure on ourselves is difficult. We want to keep British boxing alive, but now I just want to keep myself alive in that ring. It’s dangerous, and I want to concentrate on the skill and the art.”

Meanwhile Dennis Hogan’s bid for the WBC middleweight title ended in defeat to defending champion Jermall ‘Hit Man’ Charlo in Brooklyn on Saturday.

The Kildare native was TKO’d in the seventh round by the unbeaten Texan at the Barclays Centre.

Hogan, who dropped to 28 wins from 32 outings after the defeat, admitted that he didn’t see the punch that ended his ambitions coming.

“It came out of nowhere, I didn’t even see it,” admitted the Australia-based challenger (28-3-1) who moved up a limit for the title tilt, but was stopped or the first time in his career.

“I could feel that middleweight power when he landed that first shot. After that, he knew that he had an advantage,” added Hogan, who was also dropped in the fourth round.

The 34-year-old Irishman is planning to move back down to light-middle in the new year.

We gave it a shot, but I was found wanting when it came to strength and power. I’ll go back, regroup and then come back down to 154 lbs and start again next year.

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