Sunday, December 8, 2019 1:57 pm
Nigerians are celebrating emphatic victory of British heavyweight boxer, Anthony Joshua over Mexican Andy in the ‘Clash on the Dunes’ in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia on Saturday evening.
Joshua, 30, was born in Watford to Yoruba parents from Ogun State, Southwest Nigeria defeated Ruiz Jr on a unanimous points decision to regain the heavyweight the IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO championship belts he lost to his Mexican-American opponent in a shock upset last June.
With his victory in the fight the judges scored in118-110, 118-110 and 119-109 in his favour, the 30-year-old Briton joined joins a small cluster of men including Muhammad Ali, Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson and Floyd Patterson to have reclaimed the world heavyweight title.
Populary called AJ and though he is officially British, Joshua is popular and enjoined popular support in Nigeria, the country of origin of his parents. Just like with his other fights, millions of Nigerians followed his duel with the Mexican keenly on different platforms and his victory was followed with wild celebrations on the social media by Nigerians.
Thousands of residents of Isagamu, a town less than 60 kilometres from Lagos where the boxer’s parents hailed from also besieged Joshua family home to watch the duel live on television.
It was therefore not strange that Nigerians, led by President Muhammadu Buhari have been pouring praises on Joshua, for regaining his belts on Saturday night in a rematch with Ruiz Jnr.
In a congratulatory message by his spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, in Abuja on Sunday, President Buhari rejoiced with Joshua, saluting him for bringing joy to millions of Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora.
He noted that Joshua’s supporters across the world had rooted for him to regain the titles he lost about six months ago.
“The downfall of a man is truly not the end of his life. There’s always another, and better day. This is a lesson we must all learn from you as a country,” Buhari told the comeback world champion.
He wished Anthony Joshua well ”as he seeks to bring more glory to Nigeria, and to the boxing profession”.
Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun Sunday said Joshua made Nigerians proud and restored confidence that the Nation will be great again.
“I congratulate Anthony on this successful outing. May he, continue with the winning streak ad infinitum”, Abiodun prayed.
He noted that many admirers of AJ worldwide, especially, people of Ogun State stayed awake to watch the match.
He noted that the Sagamu-born boxer outclassed Andy Ruiz Jr over 12 rounds “to compensate them and reassured us that hard work pays”.
“My joy is unquantifiable”, he said, adding that “our government has always dimensioned sports as not only a unifying factor but an socioeconomic imperative”.
The Governor, however, attributed the outcome to the manifestation of God’s love for the people of the State who prayed ceaselessly for AJ, that the nightmarish experience of New York earlier in the year be reversed.
“God still answers prayers. We return all glory to God Almighty for granting our hearts’ desires and ceaseless prayers for our brother, Anthony Joshua, to regain the IBF, WBA and WBO titles.”
“All of us in the state, irrespective of our religious affiliations prayed for his success. That the feat happened in Saudi Arabia doubly excites me. God answered us”, an excited Gov Abiodun enthused.
A former Nigeria national light-heavyweight boxing champion, Isaac Ikhouria, also congratulated Joshua for defeating Ruiz to reclaim his world heavyweight titles.
Ikhouria disclosed this while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Benin.
“Nobody had expected Joshua losing to him back then in June, I’m happy he has gotten back his titles, he has learnt a lesson from this competition, from all the details we heard before the fight.
“He trained so hard, he worked on himself by trimming down in size, lost some weight, it helped him to move faster.
“I’m particularly happy and proud of him that he has regain back his titles.
“There is no other option to hard work and discipline. If you are discipline and you listen to what your coaches are telling you, you will not fail,” he said.
The ex-international tasked up coming athletes on hard work and discipline, saying that they should watch the type of food they eat so they can remain fit at all times.
Also, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO Nigerians in Diaspora Commission ( NIDCOM) in a statement by NIDCOM’s Head of Media and Public Relations, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, on Sunday in Abuja said Joshua’s victory over the Mexican was not only a thing of pride to Nigerians, but to Africa as a whole.
“I congratulate you on this wonderful feat, for winning this tensed but historical fight.
“We are truly proud of you and urge you to continue to use your professional prowess to extol the virtues of Nigerian heritage.
“Your shinning beacon serves as inspiration to the youth of Nigeria.
“Your victory is also a testimony to the fact that Nigerians are great people, contributing in many ways to the development of the country and the continent as a whole,” Dabiri-Erewa stated.
She noted with satisfaction that in spite of the challenges being faced by Anthony in his career, he had remained determined, focused, and did not allow that to lure him into any form of criminality or depression.