How Anthony Joshua reclaimed his titles in 'Clash On The Dunes' - Report

“It was his (Joshua’s) night, man,” said Ruiz as his six-month reign ended in the 15,000 seat arena on the outskirts of the capital Riyadh.

Britain’s Anthony Joshua beat Andy Ruiz Jr on a unanimous points decision in Saudi Arabia on Sunday to seize back the heavyweight world championship belts he lost to his Mexican-American opponent in a shock upset last June.



The ‘Clash on the Dunes’ in Diriyah was for the IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO titles and Joshua set the pace from the start with a measured masterclass that showed he had learned from the nightmare of New York.



The judges scored the fight 118-110, 118-110 and 119-109 to the 30-year-old Briton.



“It was his night, man,” said Ruiz as his six-month reign ended in the 15,000 seat arena on the outskirts of the capital Riyadh.



The decision to take the fight to Saudi Arabia had been criticised by human rights campaigners but Joshua complimented the hosts and welcomed Ruiz’s suggestion that there should be a third encounter.



“If you heard, we’re going to do it a third,” said the champion.



Ruiz had stopped the previously undefeated Briton in the seventh round at Madison Square Garden but there was to be no second bolt of lightning from the man in the golden gloves and shorts.



He suffered a nasty gash over his left eye early on, with Joshua also bloodied on the brow in the second round to keep the cornermen busy to the end.



As the fight went into the second half, Ruiz was looking frustrated and was warned for illegal blows.



The eighth was more promising, with Joshua momentarily appearing vulnerable, but the Briton took back control and by round 11 had a spring in his step, looking fresh and nimble on his feet while using his height advantage to good effect.



Ruiz knew he needed a knockout but it never came.



Joshua, now with a record of 23 wins and one defeat, had described that June defeat — to a flabby-looking opponent drafted in as a late replacement — as no more than a “minor setback”.



While he made light of it again in victory, he was clearly relieved. “Man, the first time was so nice, I had to do it twice,” he told the crowd.



“I’m used to knocking guys out but last time I realised ‘hang on a minute, I hurt the man and I got caught coming in’. I gave the man his credit. I said to myself I’m going to correct myself and come again.”



Another loss in the early hours of Sunday would have put the 2012 Olympic super-heavyweight champion’s career on the line, with some saying after the last fight that he was finished.



TOO MUCH WEIGHT



Joshua had shown with his preparations, however, that he meant business — stepping into the ring lighter than ever and more than three stones less than Ruiz who had weighed in considerably heavier than in their first showdown.



The contrast between the two men was a talking point before the fight, with one British boxing writer noting that while Joshua sported a six-pack, his opponent appeared to have consumed one.



Ruiz, embraced by Joshua afterwards, said he would do it differently next time. “I think I didn’t prepare it how I should have. I gained too much weight but I don’t want to give no excuses. He won, he boxed me around,” he said.



“If we do the third, I’m going to get in the best shape of my life.” On the undercard, American Michael Hunter and Russian veteran Alexander Povetkin fought to a draw in their WBA heavyweight eliminator.



British heavyweight Dillian ‘The Body Snatcher’ Whyte beat Poland’s former world title challenger Mariusz Wach on a unanimous points decision.



“I’ve been through hell these last couple of months, but we’re here and back,” said the 31-year-old Whyte who was provisionally suspended in July over an irregular urine supply but cleared by the UK Anti-Doping agency on Friday.



REUTERS

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Cycling: Tropical Amissa Bongo tour kicks off

Consistent and steam gaining, the 2020 edition of the Tropical Amissa Bongo cycling tour is already making headlines since the kick off on January 20th in Gabon.

Consistent and steam gaining, the 2020 edition of the Tropical Amissa Bongo cycling tour is already making headlines since the kick off on January 20th.

The first lap from Bitam to Ebolowa was won by Eritrean Natnael Tesfazion on Tuesday

Algerian cyclist Youcef Reguigui was ranked second in the second stage after pedalling for 120 km between Bitam and Oyem.

190 km. from Lambaréné to Mouila. Cameroonian Kamzong Abessolo makes history as the first Central African cyclist to win a stage at the Tropical Amissa Bongo.

He led the whole race in a breakaway with three other riders including a Burkinabe ( Nikiema Abdoulaziz), a Moroccan ( Sabbahi Rl Houcaine) and the Rwandan Joseph Areruya. After a sprint at the end, it took the photo Finish to separate the Cameroonian and the Rwandan.

Today Friday January 24 will cover the lap between Lambaréné and Kango, followed by the Port Gentil circuit on Saturday before the final lap to Libreville on Sunday January 26.

Top rated games coming your way this weekend on the continent as the final sprint of the inter club competitions will produce candidates for the knock out rounds in the CAF competitions 2020.

The champions league teams will pour it all to join TP Mazembe and Mamelodi Sundowns, the only two to have qualified from the group stages.

In the Confederation cup competition only Egyptian side Pyramids fc have secured qualification to the knock out stage and that only means more action from some of the games

And also we will be having some interesting games in the Congolese topflight this weekend. It is the last day of play in the championship as Otyo Oyo fc will be crowned champions.

We go to South Africa where the premiere league enters day 20 this weekend

On Monday we will be bringing you updates from Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Zimbabwe and all that will make news in football here in Congo this weekend on football planet.

2022 WC qualifiers: Cameroon, Ivory Coast duel; East Africa chases slot in Group E

That’s a relatively good draw for both Egypt and Senegal, with no obvious threats to them progressing to the final stage of qualifying for Qatar.

Cameroon and Ivory Coast were drawn in the same World Cup qualifying group on Tuesday, meaning one of the African soccer powers won’t make the 2022 tournament in Qatar.

Mohamed Salah’s Egypt will face Gabon and star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubayemang, along with Libya and Angola in Group F.

Sadio Mane’s Senegal, the top-ranked team in Africa, is up against Republic of Congo, Namibia and Togo in Group H.

That’s a relatively good draw for both Egypt and Senegal, with no obvious threats to them progressing to the final stage of qualifying for Qatar.

In Group E, Kenya was drawn with Mali, Uganda, and Rwanda. That makes three East African nations against the Group top seed Mali. If Mali fails to top the group, it means an East African country will be in the running for the final knockout stage.

African champion Algeria is in Group A with Burkina Faso, Niger and Djibouti and hopes its Riyad Mahrez-inspired continental title last year in Egypt can spur it on to the World Cup. Algeria has only qualified for two World Cups since 1986 and its last was in Brazil in 2014.

The first group games are in October and the winners of the 10 groups will be drawn into two-legged playoffs to decide the final five African teams at the World Cup.

Egypt and Senegal both qualified for the last World Cup in Russia and will be looking to repeat. Both Cameroon and Ivory Coast missed out and are up against each other in Group D, which also contains Mozambique and Malawi.

Nigeria was drawn with Cape Verde, Central African Republic and Liberia in Group C as it tries to reach a fourth straight World Cup and eighth overall.

Tunisia is top-seeded in Group B and up against Zambia, Mauritania and Equatorial Guinea. Morocco is the favorite in Group I but will face a challenge from Naby Keita’s Guinea. Guinea-Bissau and Sudan are the other teams in that group.

Ghana and South Africa are likely to fight for to spot in Group G, which also includes Zimbabwe and Ethiopia.

Group J consists of Congo, Benin, Madagascar and Tanzania.

AP

Cameroonian striker Toko Ekambi joins Lyon on loan from Villarreal

The striker replaces Dutchman Memphis Depay, for €4m with a €11.5m purchase option, according to a press release.

Cameroonian striker Karl Toko Ekambi has officially signed with French top tier side, Olympique Lyon. Ekambi is on loan from his club Villarreal to Olympique Lyonnais until the end of the season.

The striker replaces Dutchman Memphis Depay, for €4m with a €11.5m purchase option, according to a press release.

The 27-year-old international has scored six goals this season, after hitting 17 goals in 37 games in the 2017/2018 Ligue 1 season for Angers.

In his initial comments following the deal: Ekambi said: “I’ve already had contact with Lyon and it didn’t happen at that time because I chose to go to Spain.

“But once the opportunity came up, I immediately said yes, because Lyon is one of the two biggest clubs in France and I think that Lyon can’t be refused, because it’s a very big club and I’ve always wanted to play and always dreamed of playing at Lyon.”

He scored 18 times in all competitions for Spanish side Villarreal last quarter. Karl Toko Ekambi will qualify for the Round of 16 of the Champions League with Olympique Lyonnais against Juventus.

African qualifiers for 2022 World Cup: Second-round group pairings

Africa’s race to elect representatives for the next World Cup enters the second round with today’s draw. There are forty teams expected to pooled into 10 groups of four after the draw.

The Nile Ritz-Carlton hotel located in Egypt’s capital Cairo hosted the high and mighty in African football when the second-round draw for African World Cup 2022 qualifiers was held on Tuesday, January 21.

Africa’s race to elect representatives for the next World Cup now enters the second-round with today’s draw. Forty teams were pooled into 10 groups of four after the draw. This qualifying phase starts in March 2020 and comes to an end in October 2021. Ten teams will make it after this stage.

For the third and final round, the ten group winners will be drawn into five two-legged knockout ties to be played in November 2021.

The forty teams pooled today comprised – the 14 winners of the first-round of qualifiers. They were joined by the 26 highest African nations in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking (as of December 2019). Only the section winners advance to the third round and final round.

How the groups played out

GROUP A
Algeria
Burkina Faso
Niger
Djibouti

GROUP B
Tunisia
Zambia
Mauritania
Equatorial Guinea

GROUP C
Nigeria
Cape Verde
Central African Republic
Liberia

GROUP D
Cameroon
Ivory Coast
Mozambique
Malawi

GROUP E
Mali
Uganda
Kenya
Rwanda

GROUP F
Egypt
Gabon
Libya
Angola

GROUP G
Ghana
South Africa
Zimbabwe
Ethiopia

GROUP H
Senegal
Congo
Namibia
Togo

GROUP I
Morocco
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Sudan

GROUP J
DR Congo
Benin
Madagascar
Tanzania

The pots

  • Pot 1: Algeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco, Ghana, Egypt, Cameroon, Mali, Congo DR
  • Pot 2: Burkina Faso, South Africa, Guinea, Uganda, Cabo Verde, Gabon, Benin, Zambia, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire
  • Pot 3: Madagascar, Mauritania, Libya, Mozambique, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Niger, Central African Republic, Namibia, Guinea-Bissau
  • Pot 4: Malawi, Angola, Togo, Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Liberia, Djibouti

How they shape up: FIFA Analysis of groups

Pot 1: Maghreb nations looking strong

The continent’s big guns line up in Pot 1, among them the five nations that represented Africa at the last FIFA World Cup: Tunisia, Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt and Senegal.

Reigning CAF Africa Cup of Nations champions Algeria are in the hat with them. The Desert Foxes missed out on a place at Russia 2018 and will be anxious to return to the World Cup scene for the first time since Brazil 2014. The same goes for Ghana and Cameroon.

Completing Pot 1 are Congo DR and Mali. The Leopards have not graced the world finals since Germany 1974, when they went by the name of Zaire, while the Eagles have never qualified.

Pot 2: Côte d’Ivoire the team to avoid

Two sides with World Cup experience figure in Pot 2: the formidable Côte d’Ivoire, who will be led by their fearsome strike duo of Nicolas Pepe and Wilfried Zaha; and South Africa, who have failed to make the big stage since hosting the 2010 tournament, an absence they are keen to end.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s Gabon and Naby Keita’s Guinea are two ambitious sides that will also pose a threat, despite their record of never having qualified.

Burkina Faso, Uganda, Cape Verde, Benin, Zambia and Congo are also capable of big things and should not be underestimated.

Pot 3: Outsiders with big ideas

None of the teams in Pot 3 have ever qualified for the biggest tournament in football, though the likes of Madagascar and Mauritania have made significant progress in recent times and look increasingly capable of taking that last step.

Joining them are Namibia, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, who have all been on the qualification campaign trail for several months now. The quartet emerged from a tricky first round and have designs on going further.

Rounding off the pot are Libya, Niger, Kenya and Central African Republic, who all fancy their chances of causing an upset and making the third round.

Pot 4: Potential surprise packages

The fourth and final pot is an indication of the quality on show in the group phase, containing as it does two previous World Cup qualifiers in Togo and Angola.

Alongside them are teams of the calibre of Tanzania – back in the limelight after appearing at their first Africa Cup of Nations in 40 years – Malawi and Liberia, who respectively knocked out Botswana and Sierra Leone in the last round.

Ethiopia, Rwanda, Sudan, Djibouti and Equatorial Guinea also negotiated the preliminary phase and are aiming to make their presence felt in what promises to be an exciting second round.

Saudia Arabia unperturbed about ban on Iran hosting games

Iran has threatened to boycott the 2020 AFC Champions League if they are banned from hosting international matches

President of the Saudi Arabia Football Federation has said he is not concerned by Iran’s threat to boycott the 2020 Asian Champions League (AFC).

Yasser Almisehal said Saudi clubs will be playing as usual.

“The Asian Football Federation assesses the situation in the hosting countries, and the AFC Competitions and Executive Committees make decisions based on that, and when they think the situation is not safe to host matches in some country, they take the necessary measures. Saudi teams are ready to play anywhere. We only focus on our matters and interest. This issue is an internal one, it only concerns Iranians and we don’t want to comment on it”, he said.

Saudi club Al Hilal won the title last year. It was the first time a team from the country had triumphed in Asia’s top club competition since Al-Ittihad triumphed in 2005.

Iran has threatened to boycott the 2020 AFC Champions League if they are banned from hosting international matches.

AP