Aftermath: Joshua vs Ruiz Jr
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Andy Ruiz Jr deposed WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight king Anthony Joshua on Saturday night amid high drama at Madison Square Garden. Colin Harris, Paul Zanon, James Oddy, Mark Ortega, Callum Rudge, Oliver McManus, Lee Gormley, Tom Craze and Peter Shaw from the BM online team are here to sift through the wreckage for answers...
BM: What on earth did we just witness? Where does this rank on the heavyweight shock scale?
CH: I had such contempt for this contest that I refused to set any alarms to wake up and watch it... I went to bed saying to my girlfriend "It's a 4-am'er and I'm not disrupting myself for this crap. I'll watch it in the morning". I placed a few one-pound bets online and seriously looked at the odds for the "both fighters go down, Ruiz to win" and thought about making some crazy wagers because the odds were stupidly good... Then I figured it was a good waste of a nicker! Having woken up and caught up on the night's action, I am about to have a breakfast of humble-pie... IF I can actually get any of it into my mouth past the egg which is all over my face. Biggest heavyweight upset since Tyson vs Douglas... I feel that I know very little about boxing right now... Shocked at the result... Kudos to Ruiz...
PZ: Built like a rhino, with the hand speed of a featherweight and a granite chin, Ruiz Jr did the unthinkable. As a last-minute replacement who'd fought five weeks ago, stories don't get better than this. We all doubted him and he proved the world wrong. I'm off to have some humble pie for breakfast!
JO: This isn't Tyson vs Douglas level of shock, but it isn't far off. I felt when the contest was first announced that Ruiz was an interesting opponent for Joshua style-wise but would be lucky to see the later rounds. As fight week came round, Ruiz'x demeanour had me convinced we'd see an early blow out for Joshua. So yeah...it's huge.
MO: Biggest upset in a heavyweight title fight since Hasim Rahman beat Lennox Lewis as a 16-to-1 underdog in 2001. Watched back the fight three times already, Still can't believe what I saw. Joshua was completely gassed after the knockdown in the third round and never recovered. Just looked off the whole fight despite really not throwing that many punches. Ruiz took some hellacious shots that would've spelled good night for most other fighters. Joshua landed a massive left hook in the seventh that only sent Ruiz into a fiery onslaught, leading to the end of the fight. Viva Andy Ruiz! He's put boxing on the front pages for the week!
CR: It’s definitely up there with Tyson vs Douglas. This was Anthony Joshua dipping his toe into the American market, an easy defence before targeting the big names of the division. What happened will be talked about for decades to come. A short podgy Mexican out-thought and out-fought the champion. Ruiz was fantastic, he kept himself small, with a high guard and never panicked when hurt. Joshua was the opposite - low left hand, panicked when buzzed and gassed before being stopped.
OM: The event as a whole is up there with one of the more bizarre nights of boxing I've ever seen - each contest had some talking point and the main event, fittingly, had to throw a novelty sized spanner in the works. A brilliant performance from Ruiz: swarming Joshua with punches and breaking him down each round. Joshua looked apathetic and nonchalant as his empire crumbled and his fortitude remained absent. Certainly the biggest heavyweight upset of my lifetime.
LG: This is what happens when you continue to delay the biggest fights. You can point the finger towards Joshua and his team or anyone else but the truth is the Wilder fight should have and could have been made a long time ago. Egos and politics have been constantly in the way and this result feels like karma. Who doesn’t love a great upset? A great modern day heavyweight shock. Fair play to Ruiz Jr.
TC: One of the most extraordinary heavyweight results of the past few decades, and the way it played out only underlined that. This wasn’t a one-punch KO upset or some Hail Mary from a huge underdog, but a dismantling of a 1/25 betting favourite on the biggest stage of all. Tyson was more feared against Douglas, but it’s worth remembering - as pointed out by Cliff Rold on Twitter - that Douglas was in most top 10s at the time, too. Ruiz was lower-ranked with everyone — and took the fight as a late replacement on four weeks’ notice!
BM: Did AJ check out mentally, did we underestimate Ruiz? Over estimate AJ?
JO: I tweeted something similar but I'll say it again: we can forget fighters can be badly concussed in a fight but not knocked out. Although he lacked a little intensity in the opening two rounds, Joshua was in control. Then Ruiz showed a granite chin to shake off the knock down while Joshua was absolutely done, mentally and physically, after he was knocked down in the third. So he 'checked out' in that sense. Ruiz was what we expected - tough, cute and with fast hands. That wasn't a revelation.
CR: Joshua’s demeanour in the corner was a guy very relaxed, expecting to go out and get rid of Ruiz in quick time. I’ve sensed an arrogance from Joshua for about a year now, he’s not blameless for the Wilder fight not happening and last night that arrogance showed again. His coach was repeatedly telling him to keep his hands up, to use straight shots but Joshua ignored him, kept his left hand low and wanted to trade with Ruiz. Ruiz was fantastic but Joshua was very poor.
LG: It’s a bit of both really. Joshua and Wilder don’t have the same skill set and technical nous as Tyson Fury and Ruiz proved that a lot here when outgunning the big favourite. AJ’s engine has always looked a problem and it let him down again at the worst time. He likely overlooked Ruiz, especially after the first knockdown, and it’s come back to bite him.
TC: It’s a combination of all of the above. Joshua didn’t look right at all (asking his corner ‘why do I feel like this?’ and questioning what round it was shows a man who was either concussed from the first knockdown or totally at sea). As for Ruiz, so many people in the industry said he was a better replacement than Miller, and so many wayward cynics went down the ‘look at this truck driver!’ route of questioning. We saw Joshua have some problems on the inside against the shorter man in the Povetkin fight, and once Ruiz found that weakness, he fought brilliantly to exploit it - and quite simply, Joshua had no answer. The stoppage was a good one, and Joshua's body language was of a fighter who’d had enough.
BM: Does a rematch end any differently?
JO: Very hard to say. Joshua would have longer to prepare but so would Ruiz. Power has always been Joshua's get out of jail free card. If Ruiz can take it, all bets are off. I don't think Joshua could outbox Ruiz.
CR: I suspect it will land back here in the UK and Joshua will box to orders and win a decision but Ruiz was so good last night, even before the stoppage he was targeting Joshua’s long body to set up the headshots. Ruiz is a smart fighter and will give Joshua all he can handle again.
LG: It’s heavyweight boxing so Joshua could easily bounce back in a rematch. He’ll have to do things differently in camp and this could ultimately prove to be a blessing in disguise if he gets things back on track. He might be too big. He has what some would call the perfect physique but he got outboxed and outworked by a man with the complete opposite stature, who was ridiculed for being overweight in the build-up. Back to the drawing board for the rematch. By the way, I hope this result ends any more nonsense talk of the ‘old legendary heavyweights’ wouldn’t do well in modern times. Size can be an advantage if utilised properly but those who say the likes of Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano and co couldn’t succeed in the current era are wrong. Ruiz demolished the much larger man here. In the same regard, anyone writing off Usyk’s chances against ‘the big boys’ will surely have to rethink.
TC: Given that it’d be back in the UK, quite possibly. Joshua still starts the favourite in that fight - he opened at 1/4 last night, compared to the 1/25 (or longer) he was last night - and he’s capable of making adjustments technically, but the mental toll this loss takes remains to be seen.
PS: I've always been a Joshua admirer. He is big, strong, brave and fast for a man his size. A great ambassador for British boxing but I am on record as recognising that he desperately needs someone to teach him about close quarters defence and how to think during tough fights. He seems to get great training, but the coaching aspect is really there for any experienced boxing sage to see. Unfortunately, it is now too late. He has already learned all he is going to. What his people have failed to teach him in these departments, he will never pick up now. There is too much of the amateur mentality ingrained in him.
Basically, he is capable of coming back, but he will inevitably fail against the men who really count. I am not a lover of Wilder, but he would have knocked him out too, as might Dillian Whyte, and Fury would undoubtedly humiliate him over 12 rounds.
OM: Do I see a rematch ending differently? No, and comfortably so, Joshua has got a lot to work on if he wants to beat that type of fighter - he was beaten to the punch consistently, complacent after securing the knockdown, looked exhausted from the get-go and just couldn't summon any fight within him.