Six months ago, Andy Ruiz shocked the boxing world
By Bill Tibbs
When I got the call for my take on the “Upset of the Year” choice for Maxboxing, the first fight that popped into my head was Mexico’s first heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. (33-2, 22 KO’s) and his stoppage of England’s then-undefeated, and Adonis-like, Anthony Joshua (23-1, 21 KO’s) to capture the WBA/IBF/IBO/WBO world heavyweight titles.
It was Joshua’s coming out party at Madison Square Garden in New York but Ruiz, who took the fight on 6 weeks notice, had other plans. Ruiz was known as a likable and somewhat fast handed, albeit light(er) hitting, heavyweight contender who drew as many chuckles for the size of his waistline as he did for any of his boxing skills.
He had come up short in his only other heavyweight title bid losing a decision to then-WBO champion Joseph Parker in 2016. But on this night, Imperial, California-residing Ruiz, a huge underdog going into the bout, knocked down the British champion 4 times, twice in the 7th and defining round, before the referee stepped in to save the former champion.
Joshua, and all of England, looked on in stunned disbelief, while Ruiz, and all of Mexico, jumped for joy at the huge upset victory.
After the fight an elated Ruiz stated that, “I just feel so good, man. This is what I’ve been dreaming about, this is what I’ve been working hard for. I can’t believe I just made my dreams come true.”
Seemingly everybody was thrilled for the everyday, hardworking, self-proclaimed, “Fat Mexican kid” who had shocked the world. People weren’t necessarily stunned that Ruiz had won a portion of the world title, as he did possess a good chin and fast hands. And, against the right guy, that might be enough to find a way to win a title. However, against an undefeated specimen like Joshua this type of upset was not in the script.
The new champion enjoyed all the fruits of his labor and spent the next few months partying and celebrating his huge victory with family and friends.
This didn’t bode well for the rematch this past month with Ruiz coming in 15 pounds heavier than in their first fight. He was seemingly unprepared to ward off the supremely conditioned Joshua who had mapped out a perfect plan to box and stay busy, from a safe distance, all night. Ruiz lost every round, and his titles, in his first defense.
Ruiz was rich but a former champion. Hertfordshire, England’s Joshua was champion once again and had erased the memory of a bad night in Gotham the previous June. There’s been talk of a third fight. Ruiz admitted he was unprepared and vowed to come back in shape – we shall see.
But, on a warm night last June in New York City, little known, perennial fat guy-punchline Andy Ruiz used fast hands, strong combination counter shots, and lots good old fashioned Mexican nuts and guts to get up off the canvas and score a huge victory, shock the boxing world and pull off the biggest upset of 2019.