A hard task: Regaining the heavyweight title

by dry dothy: Will AJ step aside to fight an undisputed fight between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk, or will he try to make history? There are only four people in heavyweight boxing history who have regained their titles in instant rematches, and Anthony Joshua is one of them.

Even doing it against Andy Ruiz Jnr in 2019 was impressive because doing it again is against the odds. Everyone agrees that he needs to change his approach. It’s the opposite of what he did in adapting Andy Ruiz. Talking about stepping down should mean they know the enormity of the task.

awesome 4

  • Floyd Patterson 1960
  • Muhammad Ali 1978
  • Linux Lewis 2001
  • Anthony Joshua 2019


Floyd Patterson was the first boxer in history to regain the title, instant rematch or otherwise. His defeat to Ingemar Johansson was more crushing than AJ to Ruiz or Usyk. Patterson was destroyed in the third round after falling seven times. He knocked Johansson out of the cold in the fifth round with a massive left hook.


Leon Spinks shocked the world when he defeated Muhammad Ali in only his eighth professional fight. Spinks was quickly tracked as he took the gold in 1976. In truth, the “Greatest” had outstripped his best. Spinks won with a 15-round decision beating the champ. He was good enough, though, to fall back on the years to defeat the young man. Ali announced his retirement immediately afterwards. This was the right decision, but unfortunately, he was drawn back again due to the loss of financial resources of both Larry Holmes and Trevor Berbick.


Similar to Anthony Joshua, Lennox Lewis actually won a second game before trying to do it again. Lewis had, quite literally, collapsed Oliver McCall in the mid/late ’90s, but the rematch wasn’t instant, and McCall lost the title he had taken from Lewis to Frank Bruno.

In 2001, Lewis was kicked out of his right hand straight to the powerful Hashem Rahman in South Africa. Coming back just a few months later, Lewis did the same as he was more aggressive and knocked out Abd al-Rahman with a left hook, right-straight combination.


In short order Andy Ruiz accomplished what is almost impossible to recover from a third-round knockout to take control of AJ and stop him in Round 7. His quick hands were too much for the Briton, and every time he let them go, AJ was in trouble. Joshua boxed behind a long jab in the second fight to an easy UD 12 round.

Can Anthony Joshua do it again against a superior technician and be the fifth to achieve it and the first to do so twice. I think he can.

Replays of other heavyweight matches of note:

Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury 3

Wilder almost regained his title in an instant rematch (the third fight), and knocked down Fury twice, but the Briton rallied to stop Deontay in round 11.

Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield 2

Tyson lost his WBA title to Holyfield in 1996. In the most famous boxing incident ever, Tyson, in a rematch, out of frustration, had part of Evander’s ear, and lost the match due to disqualification.

Evander Holyfield x Riddock Poe .2

Holyfield lost his three world titles to “Big Daddy” Bowe in late 1992. He took them back in a fight with “Fan Man” just a year later, but in between, Bowe destroyed both Mike Dukes and Jesse Ferguson in defenses, and Holyfield defeated Alex Stewart. Holyfield’s win was a bit controversial, and Boe sealed the treble in the rematch, but it was a huge victory nonetheless.

Sonny Liston vs Muhammad Ali 2

Nobody could have imagined that Ali (then Cassius Clay) could beat Sonny Liston. Liston was the most terrifying man in boxing history. Ali was undefeated but was brought down by Sonny Banks and Henry Cooper. Ali dominated the fight, and Liston quit due to a shoulder injury. In a rematch, many claimed Liston made a dip and was suspended in the first round. He continued his career but it was not what it was.

Muhammad Ali – Ken Norton 2

Ali won his title again in an instant rematch, but it wasn’t a world title. It was NABF. Ali was on his way back after losing Fraser, and Norton was not expected to do what he did. Norton’s hit was superior, and he broke Ali’s jaw earlier in the fight.

Joe Louis vs Max Schmeling 2

German Schmeling, who was 99 when he died in 2005, produced a major upset over Joe Louis. The American nailed with his bouncing right hand all night to win the world title, stopping his opponent in the 12th round. The match was replayed almost exactly two years later, but that was the time and level of activity, with Lewis The Brown Bomber winning 11 fights between them. The rematch was largely one-sided, crushing Louis Schmeling in the first round.

John Ruiz vs Evander Holyfield 2

After losing his titles to Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield had the opportunity to reclaim the vacant WBA title in his next fight. Defeated Jon Ruiz in a tough/competitive fight. Ruiz turned the tables in a rematch, and their third bout ended in a draw, putting an end to one of the most boring boxing trios ever.

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