Anthony Joshua did not crack a smile until the verdict was read out, although the roar of pent up frustration that greeted Michael Buffer’s announcement gave the first indication, despite all the denials, of how hurt he had been by the loss the Ruiz six months ago.
It was a style designed to beat one man on one night, but Joshua has not been reinvented as a backfoot jab and mover. If, as seems likely, he faces Kubrat Pulev, his IBF mandatory challenger in May or June next year, expect Joshua to hold his ground and revert to power.
It wasn’t a style that seemed to come naturally to him at times. He missed enough to make things anxious and when he tried to clinch and smother Ruiz up close, he tended to lean in from too far away, sometimes with his chin in the air.
But the simple maths made it the right thing to do. Joshua had a huge height and reach advantage and there was no way he was going to surrender that tonight. Ruiz, horribly overweight, couldn’t close the distance and spent the entire fight chugging after Joshua.
A few times, notably in the eighth, he had some success, but it was never prolonged, and Joshua kept his discipline, never getting greedy for more success if he had already landed. For the Saudi Arabian crowd it was job done. The hosts got their big event, it was never likely to be a thriller.
“I can box, I can really box but I like to fight,” Joshua told BBC Radio Five Live. “I’m a warrior at heart. When you are used to knocking a man out, sometimes it may happen to you.
“I knew I would correct my wrongs, I’m a man who learns from his mistakes.”
In the second half of the fight, Ruiz tried to rile up Joshua, but the Englishman didn’t bite. By the end he was pleading with him to stand in front of him. He shared the same fervour as he tried to talk Joshua into a third fight in the ring afterwards, Joshua said yes, but the people behind Joshua will probably be less keen.
Like the night he beat Wladimir Klitschko, Joshua spend about an hour in the ring afterwards celebrating. The relief was palpable. Defeat, as he said, would have been catastrophic.
When asked where his career goes next, Joshua said: “I don’t know, I don't want to talk too much. A big mouth is not what people respect. Whatever we can do, I will do. Let the fans decide. We are up for anything.
“I’m made for this stage. Look at this, a purpose-built stadium for a purposeful night tonight.”
Prior to his first fight with Ruiz, Deontay Wilder had been the man on Joshua’s mind, rather than Ruiz. Fighting the winner of the Wilder-Tyson Fury fight on February 22 would be by far the biggest fight out there, but you won’t find many people who expect that to happen soon.
Within moments of his victory, Beats by Dr Dre, one of his main sponsors, were flashing up images of Joshua across London. The Joshua brand is back on track.