It may not go down as an upset the magnitude of Buster Douglas knocking out Mike Tyson for the heavyweight world title, or even Hasim Rahman drilling Lennox Lewis to do the same, but Andy Ruiz Jr. knocked out Anthony Joshua in the seventh round to take his three heavyweight belts in an absolute shocker on Saturday night.
Sold-out Madison Square Garden was packed with 20,201, including many of Joshua’s British countrymen who had made the trip across the pond expecting to see him smoke Ruiz, who closed as an 11-1 underdog, according to Caesars. But it became Joshua’s waterloo and crushed the chance of an undisputed championship fight between Joshua and Deontay Wilder that so many have wanted for so long.
“I just feel so good, man. This is what I have been dreaming about,” Ruiz said. “This is what I have been working hard for. I can’t believe I just made my dreams come true. I just want to thank my team and my family. The sky is the limit, baby.”
Ruiz survived a knockdown in the third round and rallied to drop Joshua twice later in the round and then twice more in the seventh before stopping Joshua in a shocking scene.
Ruiz became the first fighter of Mexican descent to win a heavyweight world title and did so in the most dramatic fashion.
“That was my first time getting dropped on the floor. It just made me stronger,” Ruiz said. “It just made me want it more. I just had to knock him down back. [I took his power] because of the Mexican warrior I am. I have that Mexican blood in me. Talking about the Mexican fighting style, I just proved it.”
A Mexican fighter had tried but failed to win the heavyweight title seven times before. That list included Ruiz, who lost an extremely close majority decision to Joseph Parker when they met for a vacant title on Parker’s home turf in New Zealand in December 2016. Chris Arreola lost three tries, Eric Molina two and Manuel Ramos one. But now the flabby 6-foot-2, 268-pound Ruiz, who looks anything like a fighter and eats a Snickers bar before every fight, has a claim on boxing’s biggest prize after he dethroned its biggest star this side of Canelo Alvarez.
“This is for all of Mexico. Mexico has its first heavyweight champion of the world, and we made history,” Manny Robles, Ruiz’s trainer, said.
The chiseled 6-6, 247-pound Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs), 29, was making his seventh title defense and his much-anticipated United States debut after regularly selling out stadiums in the United Kingdom. He came to these shores hoping to build his brand in America and because streaming service DAZN put up tens of millions of dollars to lure him here.
“Heavyweight boxing, baby. Thank you to the people who came out this evening. That’s No. 1,” Joshua said. “Heavyweight boxing is on fire. I just have to turn it around a few notches and bring it back my way. I don’t want people to drown in their sorrows. This will show I have the power and the strength. It just wasn’t my night. But listen, it is good for the TV. Good for DAZN and the people watching.”
Joshua wasn’t even supposed to face Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs), 29, of Imperial, California. He was scheduled to fight undefeated New Yorker Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, but Miller was bounced from the fight about a month ago after failing four Voluntary Anti-Doping Association-administered random drug tests for three different banned substances — GW1516, human growth hormone and EPO — and being denied a boxing license by the New York State Athletic Commission.
After heavy hitter Luis “King Kong” Ortiz turned down the fight — he will instead get a rematch this fall with Wilder — Ruiz was the best available opponent who was willing, and anxious, to fight Joshua. So he took the fight fresh off a strong performance in a fifth-round knockout of Alexander Dimitrenko on April 20 and kept the momentum going.
Wilder shared his thoughts on Joshua’s loss via social media.