It arrived. The Dunes were the backdrops, the camels were spitting and we saw the return of Anthony Joshua.
It wasn’t the only story of last week but it was certainly the biggest one.
Around it we got, in Puebla, Mexico, super bantamweight action between Emanuel Navarrete and Francesco Horta for the WBO belt that did not get past the 4th round as Navarrete stopped Horta. The super flyweight title fight for the IBF belt on the undercard between Jerwin Ancajas and Miguel Gonzalez lasted a little longer – till the 6th with Ancajas registering the stoppage win.
In Barclay’s Centre, New York the middleweight title fight for the WBC belt between Jermall Charlo and Denis Hogan was a Charlo win as he stopped Hogan in the 7th round in a very impressive manner whilst the interim WBA belt went to Chris Eubank Jr after Matvey Korobov wasforced to retire with a shoulder injury. I do believe this is the second time that Eubank Jr has won an interim title and the last time did not seem to progress his career much. This time though he has a very different landscape in front of him – good to see him back.
In Diriyah Arena, Saudi Arabia we saw heavyweight Magomerasul Majidov, stop Tom Little in the second round, Dillian Whyte made a sluggish comeback against Mariusz Wach showing that there has been much on his mind. The momentum that he had gathered seems to have been temporarily lost and now that the WBC have reinstated him as their No1 challenger he should be sharing a ring soon with some champions…
The WBC international belt was on the line between Filip Hrgovic and Eric Molina and as expected, Hrgovic showed why he is someone people avoid as he got the win in a 3rd round knockout.
The fascinating WBA world title eliminator between Alexander Povetkin and Michael Hunter became more fascinating as to why the judges couldn’t separate them – most people thought Hunter won, I think Povetkin thought Hunter won but Hunter was awarded a draw. It leaves Povetkin still being touted as a world level elite fighter and in with chance when he perhaps is well past that sell by date. Hunter has not lost anything apart from momentum and given how that has affected Dillian Whyte, perhaps that really is a bad thing after all.
Then came, champion Andy Ruiz Jr with the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO belts defending against former champion and now challenger, Anthony Joshua.
There has been a lot written about Ruiz’s shape, his love of a good feed and his defeat being round his waist as much as being forced to chase round a ring but Ruiz had a game plan in New York, stuck to it and won riches he had never before known. It’s a real Rocky story – sure. It’s a real pity that he got back in the ring and was fighting to defend against a man who had a game plan in Saudi Arabia, stuck to it and had returned the riches of which he has been all too aware for some time.
Rob McCracken proved to be a master tactician and AJ fought the right fight and kept Ruiz where he needed him to be – it was not the fight we expected but it was the fight that AJ needed. The thing that got proven was that Joshua can fight at that level for 12 rounds. Up till now there had been some concern over whether he could last 12 rounds comfortably. Ruiz Jr may have been more a buffet champion than world champion on the night but we was, and remains, a dangerous fighter. He would knock clean out many fighters at the elite level – this time round he couldn’t box close enough to “do a Wilder”.
Later on last week we got, on Thursday the 12th of December in Cataluña, Spain the super welterweight European title fight between Joe Hughes and Sandor Martin, where Hughes was looking to regain his title. Martin totally out boxed Hughes to retain his title on points. On the same bill there was first round knockout for David Avanesyan that was sweet. He is due to face joe Cordina in a mouth watering scrap that got better after seeing him in such form in Barcelona on Thursday.
Last night, Friday the 13th of December in Liverpool a heavyweight week ended with Ultimate Boxxer 6 – the heavyweights. Fighters who fell by the wayside were Jay MacFarlane, Mark Bennett, Josh Sandland, Kamil Sokolowski, Jonathan Palata, Danny Whittaker and Chris Healey leaving Nick Webb, after a very difficult year for him taking home the golden robe.