When Anthony Joshua became a two-time heavyweight champion of the world on Saturday night in Saudi Arabia, he joined elite company.
Names like Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali, Lennox Lewis and George Foreman all rose to the top of the mountain twice and it takes a special kind of fighter to reclaim what you lost.
Joshua did that via unanimous decision against Andy Ruiz Jr and he brought the IBF, IBO, WBO and WBA (super) heavyweight titles back home.
His gameplan was as spot on as it could have been. AJ jabbed at distance and resisted getting into tight exchanges with the much stockier opponent.
He clearly learned his lessons from their first encounter in New York back in June. Ruiz Jr, though, foolishly came in even heavier than he did for the first fight.
Foreman, one of those illustrious two-time champions, predicted before the fight that would be telling and he was scarily accurate.
“He’s blown it, really,’’ Foreman told USA Today Sports. “He’s blown his opportunity. He threw away a great opportunity really because now he can be outboxed.
“Guys will tell you, ‘This is the way I look. I told you I’ve been there and I feel better at this weight and everything.’ But nobody, absolutely no one, wants to put their body on display and look that much out of shape. They don’t want to do it, I’m telling you. Don’t let him trick you. You are a celebrity and everybody wants you to taste some food. And you think you have enough time, six weeks come up, and you don’t have enough time to get in shape and lose weight.
“That’s the trick. You got to lose weight and you can’t fuse them together because most of your training camp will be spent on losing weight and you just won’t be in condition for the fight. So he got caught up. He got caught up in this terrible [situation]. If [Joshua] had enough time to recover, he should whip Ruiz without any problem. Just box him, box him. Take him into deep water, keep boxing him. And he should win a 12-round decision.’’
And that’s exactly what happened.