Sporting shocks don’t come much bigger. On June 1, at Madison Square Garden in New York, Andy Ruiz Jr shocked the boxing – and sporting – world by dismantling Anthony Joshua to claim the Briton’s batch of world titles.
Ruiz Jr, a Mexican-American, was a late substitue opponent for Joshua, who was originally scheduled to fight Jarrell Miller before the New Yorker was banned for doping violations.
The rotund appearance of Joshua’s opponent had been the focus of much talk before the contest, with some bookies offering odds of 250/1 for Ruiz Jr to beat the UK fighter. However, boxing insiders were pointing out that the American was a decorated amateur, and had only lost one fight as a pro.
The first two rounds of the contest were cagey before, in the third round, it looked like things would go to plan when Ruiz Jr ended up on the canvas from a Joshua left hook. Up on his feet before the count of 10, the pair then exchanged punches with Ruiz Jr landing a hook of his own that had AJ in dire straits. Down twice in that round, Joshua was over another two times before being stopped on his feet in the seventh round.
With his win, Ruiz Jr made history by becoming the first fighter of Mexican heritage to become heavyweight champion of the world. Joshua, who now has the first loss on his 23 fight record, is chasing an immediate rematch in an attempt to win back his belts.
Since the defeat, rumours have been rife that Joshua didn’t seem himself during the contest with talk of panic attacks in the dressing room ahead of the bout, and whispers that he had been knocked out in sparring during his training camp for the fight. One of the more credible reasons given for the loss is that Anthony found it difficult fighting away from the UK for the first time in his career.
The rematch is scheduled for a date to be confirmed later this year.