Anthony Joshua lifts lid on 'health issue' after title triumph

Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has opened up on the health battle he faced before losing his belts to Andy Ruiz Jr. in the first fight between the pair.

The Brit regained his IBF, WBO and IBO belts in Saudi Arabia over the weekend, courtesy of a unanimous points victory over the Mexican heavyweight.

'SHOULD BE ASHAMED': Andy Ruiz slammed over boxing 'disgrace'

Joshua's win came after Ruiz stunned him and the world by knocking the previously undefeated Brit down four times in their fight bout in June.

Now, Joshua has lifted the lid on that infamous loss, claiming he was battling "health issues" and needed to undergo an operation to sort out the problem.

"I had some issue with my health which I was going through for a long time," Joshua told the BBC.

"I didn't know what was wrong with me. I felt so tired and drained and thought it must be down to training.

Joshua went on to reveal the pressures of being a world champion weighed heavily on him and left him drained of energy.

"After my check-ups it showed what the problem was and this is what you have to get sorted," he added.

"Even in this camp I had an operation done but as I'd started training in June I had no issues."

Joshua would not reveal what the operation entailed but it’s thought to relate to the health problem he mentioned.

Anthony Joshua says he was battling health problems before his first fight against Ruiz Jr. Pic: Getty

The British champion said he was full of energy for the rematch against Ruiz, who himself admitted post-fight that his condition was not up to scratch.

Ruiz suffers from poor conditioning

Weeks of promotional hype and political outrage ended in Joshua easing past an opponent who had barely bothered to train as the so-called 'Clash on the Dunes' drifted into anti-climax.

A focused and disciplined back-foot performance from the 30-year-old Briton wrested back his world heavyweight titles by unanimous points decision over a woefully out-of-shape Ruiz.

An unprecedented event had taken one last bizarre twist when a large proportion of the country's 59mm annual rain fall dumped itself on the partially covered arena in the hours and minutes leading up to its headline contest.

But in the end it was the fight itself that proved a wash-out as Joshua picked and prodded his way to a victory which appeared secure long before the three judges handed down their 118-110 (twice), 119-109 landslide verdicts.

"Maybe I could have done more at times but simplicity is genius," said Joshua, who picked up a British record purse in excess of STG60 million ($A115 million) for a win which places him firmly back at the top of the heavyweight table.

"I took it back to the old school, seventies style, and outclassed the current champion."

Hopes of a repeat of the five-knockdown classic in which Ruiz prevailed in their first fight in June was stirred by a lively start which saw both men bloodied around their respective left eyes by the end of round two.

But it soon became clear that Ruiz's one-stone weight gain was hampering his opportunities to get inside Joshua's jab.

Andy Ruiz Jr. admitted he wasn't in the right condition for his rematch with Anthony Joshua. Pic: Getty

Suspicions had been raised that Ruiz had taken the 'Buster' Douglas route to his title reign when he weighed in on Friday more than a stone heavier than for their first meeting, and the heaviest ever for a title fight outside the seven-foot Russian Nikolai Valuev.

And the personable Mexican-American was brutally honest during his post-fight media duties, in which he conceded apparently without a hint of irony: "There's just a lot of things that were going on my plate."

Ruiz added: "I should have trained harder and listened to my team. Maybe if I hadn't put on all this weight I would have been faster."

Ruiz's calls for a third meeting are almost certain to be rejected as Joshua moves up to clean up one of two outstanding mandatory defences against either Oleksandr Usyk or Kubrat Pulev.

Promoter Eddie Hearn has indicated such future super-fights could take place back in Saudi Arabia and if the cash on offer does make it inevitable, Joshua ought to arrive better-advised after a week in which he conceded in a television interview that he was not aware of human rights group Amnesty International.

In a final, unintentional but highly unfortunate faux-pas, Joshua spoke of how he employed tactics designed to "decapitate" Ruiz, in a country in which 146 executions, many of them public, were recorded last year.

Ultimately, the 'Clash on the Dunes' will be remembered for such clanging indiscretions and promotional unseemliness than for anything that happened between the ropes.

With AAP