By Jake Donovan
Anthony Joshua couldn’t have made it any clearer even in the aftermath of his first defeat.
“The vision remains the same,” noted the now former heavyweight champion, whose immediate goal is to reclaim what was once all his.
The 2012 Olympic Gold medalist from England wasted no time in seeking to avenge his lone career defeat, following a shocking 7th round knockout at the hands of Andy Ruiz. Just three days after the loss came the decision to run it back.
“After meetings with Anthony Joshua, (head trainer and former middleweight contender) Robert McCracken and the management team in NY, we have today triggered the contracted rematch clause with Andy Ruiz Jnr.,” Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s career-long promoter announced on Tuesday.
“The fight will take place in November/December at a venue to be confirmed shortly.”
Ruiz (33-1, 22KOs) spoiled Joshua’s first career fight in the United States in a big way, recovering from a 3rd round knockdown to send the Brit down twice in the very same frame before scoring two more in round seven en route to the stunning upset win.
The feat made Ruiz the first-ever boxer of Mexican descent to capture a portion of the heavyweight throne. Sweetening the achievement was his taking the fight on less than six weeks’ notice, stepping in for unbeaten Jarrell Miller who was removed after coming up dirty for an array of banned substances during three separate random drug tests in late March.
With the win, he now holds all but one of the division’s major hardware—the other main tricket belonging to unbeaten long-reigning titlist Deontay Wilder. The public has clamored for a Joshua-Wilder showdown in what was perceived as a potentially epic battle of unbeaten titlists for the undisputed championship.
For such a fight to still happen, Joshua and Wilder will have to get through a slew of upcoming rematches.
Wilder (41-0-1, 40KOs) spent Joshua-Ruiz fight week announcing his next two fights—a remach with Luis Ortiz which is tentatively slated for late September in Los Angeles; followed by a second bout with Tyson Fury, with whom he fought to a disputed 12-round draw last December.
Joshua (22-1, 21KOs) enters the first rematch of his pro career. The last time he faced a familiar foe was in the 2012 London Olympics, earning a Gold medal with a countback win over Italy’s three-time Olympic medalist Roberto Cammarelle whom he bested in the semifinal round in the World Amateur championships one year prior.
Saturday’s loss ended a three-plus year title reign for Joshua, whom made six successful defenses since winning his first belt in a 2nd round knockout of Charles Martin in April 2016. Among his feats came an off-the-canvas knockout win over former World champion Wladimir Klitschko in their April 2017 thriller which was hailed Fight of the Year.
The bout came four months after Ruiz’s first title shot, falling just short versus then-unbeaten Joseph Parker in their Dec. 2016 vacant title fight. The bout was his last for more than a year before resurfacing last March, scoring a pair of tune-up wins in the first part of 2018 before breaking free from longtime promoter Top Rank. He did so with the assistance of powerful adviser Al Haymon, with whom he signed in joining his Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) stable earlier this year.
Ruiz’s PBC debut came in April, scoring a 5th round knockout of Alexander Dimitrenko—similar in height and weight to Joshua—live on free-to-air Fox in primetime. Taking a short notice bout versus Joshua was a concern on the surface, but Ruiz was coming off the right style matchup to enter such a fight.
With Tuesday’s announcement, the newly crowned unified heavyweight titlist will get the chance to prove he can do it twice in a row—while Joshua looks to show what he can do with a full training camp against an originally scheduled opponent.
Wherever the fight lands geographically, it will stream live on DAZN as was the case this past weekend. Saturday’s show was the third-most viewed boxing event on the platform since expanding to the US market last September. Additionally, highlights of the fight have already generated more than 7.3 million impressions on DAZN’s YouTube channel.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox