Andy Ruiz Jr. was down and in trouble in round three, but as John J. Raspanti writes, he recovered and soon had Anthony Joshua reeling
A fighter is either born with a good chin, or not. One could argue why---genetics? luck? good bones? The great Joe Louis was knocked down numerous times in his career. Rocky Marciano hit the canvas against both Jersey Joe Walcott and Archie Moore. Muhammad Ali went down four times in his long career. Most fighters will find themselves on the floor at some point.
It’s what happens after a knockdown that can reveal more.
Last Saturday night, new heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. tasted the canvas in round three against Anthony Joshua for the first time in his career. Most of the sold-out crowd, and many of the fans viewing the fight on the sports-streaming service DAZN, were surprised. Many of Joshua’s fans - who had traveled from the UK to cheer their hero, and were likely already in their cups - screamed and nodded. This is what they had to come to see.
There was one person in the arena who did look surprised. After going down on the seat of his pants, courtesy of a jolting right and combination, punctuated by a left hook, Ruiz gazed at Joshua, and then referee Michael Griffin, like a guy startled by thunder. Also no surprise that the left hook that crashed off the side of his face, had been quick, solid, and dangerous.
Ruiz got up at five, clear-eyed and steady. He nodded to Griffin, who wiped off his gloves. The crowd stood as Joshua went for the kill. Then it happened. Joshua lined up Ruiz with a left, stepped inside, and left fly with a thunderous right from his hometown. The blow landed perfectly, causing Ruiz to list a little. Joshua, who entered the bout with 21 stoppages in 22 fights likely expected him to fall on his face.
He said as much after the fight.
“He can take a shot,” Joshua told Radio Rahim during a video interview after the fight posted on www.secondsout.com “Normally, it’s boom, boom, boom, boom - and Andy Ruiz should have been gone. But he stayed in there, got his revenge, and became champion."
He stayed in there alright. As Joshua went for the knockout, Ruiz absorbed, ducked, and punched. He landed two left hooks, the second of which landed above the right ear. Joshua stumbled back a step-wobbling like a toddler.
Ruiz instantly let his hands go, clipping Joshua with glancing head shots. The soon-to-be ex-champ fell to the canvas. He rose at seven on unsteady legs, a slight smile on his face, as now it was now Ruiz’ turn to try and finish the job. The first blow staggered Joshua. He held on.
With 40 seconds left in the stanza, Joshua took in some air. His mouth was open, and he was breathing heavily. He backed into a corner as Ruiz came forward. A long right landed - followed up by a combination put him down for the second time. Joshua pulled himself up at eight, put up his hands, but didn’t walk to the referee when asked. Being saved by the bell was never more evident. He staggered to his corner.
Joshua would say, after the bout, that he never sufficiently recovered from the first knockdown. Ruiz, who was cracked again with a solid blow seconds before flooring Joshua for the third time, won by stoppage in round seven.
But his moment had had been in round three, when he was knocked down, got up, and with recuperative powers fully in effect, changed the destiny of the fight with two punches.