By: Hans Themistode
Before Anthony Joshua was defeated by Andy Ruiz on June 1st, at Madison Square Garden, he was the consensus best Heavyweight on the planet. With a gold medal around his neck and three titles around his waist, it wasn’t hard to see why. Joshua had the goods.
Now that he has tasted defeat for the first time in his career, other big name Heavyweights have moved ahead of him, at least in the eyes of the public. WBC belt holder Deontay Wilder and Lineal champion Tyson Fury are the first two that come to mind.
They are after all, undefeated and have mowed down the competition. Whether its Fury or Wilder is a matter of preference. There is no doubt that they are the best in the division. That might be the overwhelming sentiment shared by many in the sport, but don’t count Joshua amongst those believe those words. He doesn’t believe that he is the best either. Instead, he believes his December 7th, in Saudi Arabia, Andy Ruiz is the best man at this current moment.
“We can’t overlook Andy and his talent and his success in the ring as I’m fighting the best out there right now,” said Joshua. “In my opinion Andy Ruiz is the best heavyweight out there.”
Ruiz is a terrific fighter and has been for a long time. Before his upset of Joshua he was given no chance in that contest. Since then he has seen his stock rise and his popularity soar, but is he truly the best fighter in the division?
The new unified champion has been underrated his entire career. As an amateur he won 105 of his 110 fights. As a pro he won his first 29 contest until he lost a close and some what disputed decision against Joseph Parker in his first crack at a world title. He would go on to win his next three fights in a row before ultimately unseating Joshua.
Even with the skills that Ruiz possesses, no one outside of Joshua would consider him the best Heavyweight in the division. Wilder would seemingly land something concussive while Fury could box circles around him. That isn’t to say that Ruiz couldn’t win either of those fights because he could but it also seems unlikely.
So what was the thought process behind the words spouted by Joshua? That’s simple. It wasn’t hyperbole nor was it a way for Ruiz to let his guard down.
Joshua viewed himself as the best Heavyweight fighter before losing to Ruiz. No one, not even Klitschko gave him a more difficult contest than Ruiz. The former champion is simply acknowledging the greatness of his opponent.
It may not seem true to anyone else but to Joshua he certainly does believe that Andy Ruiz is the best fighter in the Heavyweight division.