Andy Ruiz, Jr. scored one of the biggest upsets in boxing history Saturday night on DAZN, ruining Anthony Joshua’s U.S. debut and dethroning the world’s top heavyweight. It’s definitely the biggest heavyweight upset since Mike Tyson vs Buster Douglas.
It’s not that Ruiz wasn’t dangerous on paper. He was just on the outskirts of the division’s top 10, and can punch and has good boxing skills and fast hands. But, c’mon. Look at him, and look at Joshua. Ruiz is tubby as hell, and Joshua is carved out of marble and gigantic.
Hell, Ruiz wasn’t even the original opponent, as Jarrell Miller failed a drug test and pulled out. Ruiz was the guy Joshua was fighting while we waited for him to take on either Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury.
Joshua controlled the first two rounds, mainly with his jab, with Ruiz really only landing one meaningful shot, a right hand in the 2nd. In the 3rd, Joshua opened up with a three-punch combo that concluded with a left hook that dropped Ruiz.
But Joshua made a mistake: He got reckless trying to finish Ruiz off after he rose. And that’s where Ruiz’s fast hands and power came in. Two times, he put Joshua down on combos, the first time with a left hook rocking Joshua. It’s arguable that the ref should’ve stopped the fight at the end of the 3rd because Joshua didn’t stop forward when asked.
Ruiz fought so cautiously in the 4th against a wobbly Joshua you had to think he was throwing away the upset he’d eventually get. And by the 5th, he recovered to win the round with a couple big shots that suggested he might resume control.
Then Joshua did it again: He pressed the attack in a way that he shouldn’t have. In the 7th round, Ruiz caught Joshua doing it for the second time in the fight, and it became clear that Joshua’s recovery was an illusion. The shots he dropped Joshua with twice in the 7th weren’t as clean as the ones in the 3rd.
Joshua nonetheless was shaky and spit out his mouthpiece. He rested his arms on the ropes and said he was willing to continue, but he didn’t look all that eager just laying there. The ref stopped it, and while Joshua protested, he probably was about to get finished off anyway.
Joshua didn’t really seem his usual self. His punch volume was down, perhaps because Ruiz’s counters were making him think twice. On the other hand, he didn’t really appear to have much stamina, either. You wonder if something will come out about his camp. Or maybe he was overconfident. Or maybe he just caught; like he said, “That’s heavyweight boxing.”
This shakes up the heavyweight landscape as we know it. Ruiz is now a player, at least until the rematch. There is a Wladimir Klitschko or Lennox Lewis-type arc here for Joshua’s grabbing. Both men got beat when they weren’t expected to and bounced back. Both were abnormally large heavyweights. Can Joshua do it? The fact that we get to find out gives us a different kind of drama than we were hoping for in this division, with a series of major matchups now derailed in favor of a potential redemption from one of the biggest upsets we’ve ever seen.
(Andy Ruiz, Jr. left; Anthony Joshua, right, via)