This time, all was peaceful in Anthony Joshua's world. For at least an hour after his surgical demolition of Andy Ruiz Jr, he and his crew bounced up and down inside the ring to chants of "two-time", drinking in the joy of his restoration as heavyweight champion.

As the Diriyah Arena was dismantled around them, they refused to stop. Even Joshua's redoubtable father, Robert, who had famously gone hunting for Eddie Hearn after the stunning defeat to Ruiz in New York, found it within himself to embrace the motor-mouth promoter.

After days of churning tension, Joshua could afford some time for deeper reflection, to work out how the pieces had fallen into place for him to reclaim his belts with this exhibition of the defensive arts.

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Here in Saudi Arabia, in the midst of freak desert downpours, he was as poised and disciplined as he had been ineffectual at Madison Square Garden six months earlier.

Finally, he seemed to have understood why, disclosing for the first time that he had been struggling with serious fatigue.

"I had an issue with my health, which I was going through for a long time," he said. "I didn't know what was wrong with me. I felt so tired and drained and thought it must be down to training.

"In the changing room before the fight, I got a bucket of ice and put my head in it, asking, 'Why do I feel so tired?' Some check-ups showed what the problem was and what I had to get sorted."

Joshua looked similarly spent after the "Clash of the Dunes", although this had more to do with the fact he was still conducting interviews at 4am.

Andy Ruiz Jr was still no walk in the park for Anthony Joshua. Photo / AP
Andy Ruiz Jr was still no walk in the park for Anthony Joshua. Photo / AP

When he returned to his room at the Al-Faisaliah hotel, just in time for calls to morning prayer to resound across Riyadh, a glorious dawn was breaking.

While a second loss to Ruiz could have ushered him towards premature retirement, a decisive victory ensured that the heavyweight division was his for the taking once more.

His next step on the path to global domination is likely to come in April, against Bulgaria's Kubrat Pulev, his mandatory challenger for the IBF title.

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The only plausible alternative is the Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk, last year's conqueror of Tony Bellew at cruiserweight, with the WBO belt on the line.

Joshua confirmed that his team were in talks to hold the bout at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, in a break from his recent Wembley residency.

The more pressing question, surely, is when Joshua will satisfy the clamour from his own supporters by fighting Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury.

An announcement is expected in days that the pair will stage their rematch in Las Vegas on February 22, but even then, such is the vipers' nest of boxing politics, there is no guarantee that Joshua will take on the winner before the end of 2020.

Pressed on a likely date, Hearn was non-committal. "We've wanted that fight for a long, long time," he said. "It will happen one day."

Some comfort, at least, can be taken from Joshua's imminent return to home soil, after his dubious detour into the bottomless pit of Saudi oil money.

He left the Arabian peninsula last night with a £70 million cheque, a barely conceivable reward for 36 minutes' work.

But his wealth could not deflect from the persistent questions over the ethics of this enterprise.

There is no disguising the reality that he has been used by the Saudis to help bury damaging headlines about the kingdom's human rights abuses, repression of women, and savage crackdowns on dissent.

Not that this bothers Hearn, who continues to posture as the UK's unofficial ambassador to the Middle East, talking endlessly about the "iconic" qualities of his Diriyah production.

The barometer, in his eyes, was that the fight had broken the UK pay-per-view record, attracting more than a million buys.

He complained on Sunday that journalists had been unfair to Joshua, that the same criticism had not been levelled at Fury when the "Gypsy King" had a WWE match in Riyadh last month.

Anthony Joshua's manager Eddie Hearn. Photo / Photosport
Anthony Joshua's manager Eddie Hearn. Photo / Photosport

Hearn urged his fighter to bite back, too, telling him: "Don't let them off the f------ hook."

Mercifully, Joshua, his battle with Ruiz won, was more diplomatic, promising to educate himself before agreeing to any repeat. "I swear the fight was my main focus, but that will change," he said.

If only Ruiz had shown the same ability to concentrate on his opponent. After 12 rounds of chasing shadows against Joshua, the likeable Mexican-American confirmed fears that the euphoria of his New York triumph had caused his dedication to waver and his weight to balloon.

For all his obligatory pre-fight insistence that he was "hungry", it turned out that he was referring only to his visits to the fridge.

"For this fight, I think I was overweight," said Ruiz, who had tipped the scales at 20st 3lb,to Joshua's 16st 13lb.

"I didn't move the way I wanted to. I was slimmer for a time, but I put on the weight. It was my mistake – I spent three months celebrating. I don't want to say that it affected me, but it kind of did. The partying and all that stuff got the best of me."

Anthony Joshua hits Andy Ruiz Jr hard during their title bout in Riyadh. Photo / AP
Anthony Joshua hits Andy Ruiz Jr hard during their title bout in Riyadh. Photo / AP

Looking across apologetically at his father, Andy Snr, and his trainer, Manny Robles, he acknowledged: "I got too confident in myself. I guess I should have listened to you more."

It was an admirable moment of candour on Ruiz's part, one that lesser men would not have entertained.

Sadly, he still laboured under the delusion that a trilogy of fights with Joshua was a fait accompli.

The bitter truth is that he has squandered his chance, directing his energies at luxury cars rather than his own fitness.

For all that Ruiz craves a best-of-three, Joshua has psychologically moved on already.

More dangerous, better-conditioned foes lie in wait.

The champion, fortified by the knowledge that he has been given a second chance, looks ready to take on the world afresh.