nthony Joshua faces a career-defining rematch against Andy Ruiz Jnr after succumbing to one of the biggest shocks in heavyweight history at Madison Square Garden.
The British world champion was floored four times before a seventh-round stoppage condemned him to his first defeat of a 23-bout career. A reunion against the Mexican-American will take place in the UK later this year, most likely in Cardiff in November or December. And, as Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn admitted in New York, it is a must-win bout for his man.
The Briton lost three of the four world title belts on his debut in the United States. “I just have to turn it around a few notches and bring it back my way,” Joshua said. “I don’t want people to drown in their sorrows. One hundred per cent I want the rematch. This will show I have the power and the strength.”
Joshua was outfought and outthought as Ruiz, who took the fight on 5½ weeks’ notice after Joshua’s original opponent, Jarrell Miller, was removed for failing drug tests. There will be comparisons to the night in 1990 when Buster Douglas knocked out the then-undefeated Mike Tyson in the Tokyo Dome. Tyson recovered from it; now the 29-year-old Briton must haul his broken spirit and body up from the canvas and do the same.
“This is Andy’s night, congratulations champ,” said Joshua, who dropped his opponent in a dramatic third round only then to have his senses scrambled. “The vision remains the same. Thank you to everyone who travelled. Big respect to Andy, big big respect. He’s a good fighter. Thank you, America. Sorry I let my friends down, sorry I let my supporters down. There is no excuse. I got caught with a big shot, congratulations to him.”
Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, Joshua’s biggest rivals, were quick to offer their views on social media. “He wasn’t a true champion,” said Wilder, the undefeated World Boxing Council champion. “His whole career consisted of lies, contradictions and gifts. We know who was running from who.”
Fury, who is also unbeaten, was more sympathetic. “We have our back and forths but Anthony Joshua … [in] heavyweight boxing, these things happen. Rest up, recover, regroup and come again.”
On his shock victory, Ruiz said: “I’m having to pinch myself that this really happened. I want to thank God for giving me this victory. This is what I have been dreaming about. I can’t believe I just made my dreams come true.”
After two cagey rounds, the fight burst into life in the third. Joshua landed flush in an exchange and Ruiz was down. Moving in to look for the finish, Joshua was caught by a counter. Twice he was down, just making it to the bell. On his stool, Joshua was so disorientated he was heard to ask trainer Rob McCracken: “What round is it?”
“That was my first time ever getting dropped,” said Ruiz, who can expect to treble his $3 million fee in the rematch. “It just made me stronger. It just made me want it more. I just had to knock him down back.”
For the next three rounds, Ruiz waited patiently for an opening, showing his fighting IQ and counter-attacking skills. While Joshua’s weaknesses have emerged intermittently in past fights, Ruiz brutally exposed them here.
The champion looked robotic in attack and lacked guile when hurt.
He also failed to stick to McCracken’s game plan, with the trainer urging his man to use his jab to open up an opportunity, only for Joshua instead to engage his opponent with attempted heavy punches. By the end of the sixth, with his nose bloodied, Joshua was again heard pleading with his team: “Why am I feeling like this?”.
In the next round, Ruiz sent him down twice more, leaving the Briton to look exhausted, dazed and confused. Ruiz was a worthy new champion of the International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Association and World Boxing Organisation belts.
In the chaos that ensued, Joshua’s father rushed into the ring and appeared to seek out promoter Eddie Hearn. “No, it’s me, I’m the one fighting,” Joshua was saying as his father pointed in the promoter’s direction. Later, Joshua said: “My dad’s upset, which is a natural reaction.” If he was upset then the son was humiliated.
Ruiz put the victory down to his heritage. “It’s because of the Mexican warrior I am, I have that Mexican blood in me,” he said. “I could sense he was hurt in there. I just wanted to hunt him down even more and work the body. I just wanted to listen to the game plan.”
Ruiz agreed that he would have a rematch with Joshua in the UK, most likely in Cardiff at the end of the year. “Of course, man. Right now, I just want to celebrate. I just made history for Mexico. This is what I have been dreaming about since I was six years old.”
Promoter Hearn said Joshua “was in total control of the fight but he got sloppy and never recovered”. Hearn added: “AJ will come back 100 per cent and we will make the rematch in the UK. But this night now belongs to Andy Ruiz, he made history in the heavyweight division. AJ will be devastated when it sinks in. It makes the autumn rematch a ‘must win’.”
Earlier, Britain’s Callum Smith retained his super-middleweight crown with a one-sided victory over Hassan N’Dam, scoring three knockdowns in a third-round destruction of his opponent.
By Gareth A Davies, Telegraph
WHO joins forces with FIFA, Quatar to launch #ACTogether campaign on CVID-19
Using the platform of the first FIFA Arab Cup™, the World Health Organization (WHO), FIFA and the Qatari authorities are launching the #ACTogether campaign to call for teamwork and unity to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests.
A large proportion of the global population remains susceptible to infection and at an increased risk of severe disease and death. Vaccine inequity persists in many parts of the world; of the nearly 7.5 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered globally by mid-November 2021, only 0.6% had been administered in low‑income countries. The WHO is emphasizing the need to scale up access to vaccines, treatments and diagnostics, through support to the global Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator equity initiative, as well as the importance of strict adherence to public health measures.
FIFA will utilize football’s substantial platform during the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021™ with a series of videos for broadcast, both in-stadium and around Doha. Team captains will also show their support for the message, while each participating member association will have assets to share with its fans via its social and digital platforms. The #ACTogether awareness initiative was first rolled out during the last edition of the FIFA Club World Cup™ in Qatar in February 2021 and its latest iteration stresses that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: “Nobody is safe until everyone is safe and we all have our roles to play in sharing that message. Health comes first, and through football, we can reinforce the message that high infection and death rates will persist worldwide as long as there is inequitable access to tools to fight the pandemic. Teamwork is key to that and that’s why we are standing together with the WHO, the Qatar Ministry of Public Health and the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy and call for everyone to #ACTogether and lay the foundations for a healthy FIFA World Cup in 2022.”
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General said: “The emergence of the Omicron variant underlines the importance of global solidarity and working together to defeat the pandemic. I welcome the strong support from Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, FIFA, players, spectators and partners to support this vital message on the occasion of the FIFA Arab Cup. Now, more than ever, we need to facilitate equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests, and encourage everyone to follow public health measures. Fully funding the ACT Accelerator will help make the ambition of ending the acute phase of the pandemic a reality.”
Her Excellency Dr Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Qatar’s Minister of Public Health, said: “The Ministry is proud to be partnered with FIFA and WHO to promote global collaboration and ensure the safety and health of all. While the pandemic remains managed in Qatar, the threat of the pandemic is still present around the world, and unfortunately access to the tools to defeat the virus remain limited for many countries.”
Her Excellency noted that just as the players in the FIFA Arab Cup will experience a level playing field on the pitch in Qatar, the world needs to ensure a level playing field exists for getting vaccines, treatments and tests where they are needed most. She called on members of the public to continue to follow hygiene, social distancing and other preventive measures, and expressed her delight to have the chance to promote this vital message at the Arab Cup.
Mr Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, said: “The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will be the next mega-event to take place in a COVID-19 world. As organizers, the health and safety of all participants and fans is our number one priority, and our support for #ACTogether is an integral part of this commitment. Working closely with the Ministry of Public Health, the WHO and FIFA, we have no doubt that this campaign will contribute to ensuring that the tournament will be both safe and secure, and we look forward to bringing the world together, both in person and digitally, to celebrate their common humanity and passion for football.”
In using the inaugural FIFA Arab Cup 2021 to share the message, FIFA and its partners are underlining their commitment to both fair play and equity in protecting public health, reflecting core values on the pitch, all while staying true to the main public health measures.
The #ACTogether campaign is being supported by the lead partner agencies of the ACT Accelerator initiative: CEPI, FIND, Gavi, The Global Fund, UNICEF, Unitaid, Wellcome, the WHO, the World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
TRAFFIC ADVISORY: Lagos to divert traffic as Super Eagles tackle Liberia
The Lagos state government has announced traffic diversion ahead of the FIFA 2022 World Cup Qualifying Match between Nigeria and Liberia scheduled for the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere on Friday.
The state Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde in a statement said vehicles will be barred from accessing Surulere from Teslim axis from 12:00 noon, including the Service lane inbound the National Stadium from Alaka and Teslim Balogun Stadium from Ojuelegba.
“In preparation of the FIFA 2022 World Cup Qualifying Match between Nigeria and Liberia by 5:00pm on Friday, 3rd of September, 2021, the Lagos State Government will divert Traffic leaving and coming into Surulere at Stadium.
“Motorist heading towards Costain, Lagos Island from Masha/kilo and Surulere are advised to use Adeniran Ogunsanya or Bode Thomas to link Iponri or Eric Moore to access their destinations or alternately utilize Adelabu to connect Babs Animashaun/Eric Moore axis to link Brewery and access Costain or Eko Bridge.
“In the same vein motorists can use the aforementioned route to access Surulere from Lagos Island. Traffic heading towards Ikorodu Road from Surulere is also advised to make use of Akerele to link Ogunlana Drive inwards Itire road and connect Ojuelegba to their destination.” The statement reads.
The Commissioner assured that the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) alongside Security Agencies will be on ground to ensure traffic flow is seamless. He stressed that the cooperation of the surulere community and all that ply the affected axis is vital to the ease of the flow of traffic.
Oladeinde reiterated the commitment of the Babajide Sanwo-olu led administration to ensuring that the past glories associated with the State in the Footballing world is re-enacted to make Lagos a home ground of the Super Eagles.
Lagos sports summer camp opens in Ikorodu
No fewer than 120 pupils have been camped at Oriwu College, Ikorodu, as the second stream of the Lagos Sports Summer Camp, Lagos East edition, commenced on Sunday.
Recall the Camp officially kick-started last weekend at Badagry Grammar School, Lagos, for the Lagos West Senatorial District. The Lagos Central edition, holding at Surulere, will commence later in the month.
The Summer Camp, an initiative of the Lagos State Sports Commission, was designed for pre-teens between ages 9-14 in a secured and conducive environment with caring and experienced camp counsellors to guide them throughout.
According to the camp’s official website, “The Lagos Sports Summer Camp is borne out of the need to design a conducive environment where kids come together to develop a sense of independence as they try new adventures away from home. The camp will further help the participants gain self-confidence as they engage in both academics, sporting activities and to learn new life-skills.”
The Ikorodu Camp was declared officially opened by the Director-General of the Lagos State Sports Commission, Toyin Gafaar Bolowotan.
“Our goal is to discover the inbuilt talents in our kids particularly in sports, and craftsmanship. We believe that beyond academics, they have the potentials to be the best at whatever they choose to do,” he said.
To make the camp an all-inclusive learning environment, the DG made it known that all campers for the duration of their stay in the camp would be provided with different books for their reading pleasure.
While promising that campers will undergo a life-changing experience, Bolowotan thanked the Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu for bringing the idea to life, and providing the needed support.
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