By: Sean Crose
The boxing world was stunned Saturday night when the 33-1 Andy Ruiz…who had just fought in April…thoroughly beat up and stopped the world’s prominent heavyweight titlist, 22-0 Anthony Joshua. Making his American debut, Joshua was dropped numerous times and looked almost puzzled when the scheduled 12 round Madison Square Garden bout was wisely stopped by the referee.
WBA, IBF and WBO champ Joshua had been scheduled to meet Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, but Miller tested positive for numerous banned substances and so a new opponent was needed. In stepped Ruiz, whose only loss had been a close decision defeat to Joseph Parker. Needless to say, no one gave Ruiz much of a chance. This was for all intents and purposes, supposed to be a filler match, a way to showcase Joshua for American fans.Things didn’t work out as expected.
The bout opened with Ruiz facing Joshua’s prominent jab. The much taller Joshua was able to keep his man at bay in the second. Then came the third. Joshua dropped Ruiz with a thunderous hook, making it appear as if it might be an easy night’s work for the Englishman. Ruiz got up, the two men began to brawl, and – amazingly – Joshua himself went down.
The defending champion got to his feet but was then sent down again for the second time in the round. Joshua got up again, but the man was clearly in trouble. The referee asked Joshua to come forward to see if Joshua was okay. Joshua seemed confused. The referee let Joshua off the hook, as the bell rang a moment later.
Things were slower in the fourth, but Joshua was clearly gunshy. The man seemed to hardly fire a shot. The champion looked better in the fifth and arguably took the round, having seemed to have regained his composure. Joshua appeared to be in control in the sixth, but Ruiz was able to find his target toward’s round end. Everything subsequently came to a head in the seventh.
Ruiz sent his man down for the third time in the fight. Joshua got up, but was clearly not looking good. The fight continued, only to see Joshua down yet again. The man clearly looked defeated. Still, the champion got to his feet once more. The referee checked to see if Joshua was okay. Joshua simply looked about – possibly at his corner – and the referee stopped the fight.
Andy Ruiz now holds more titles than anyone in the heavyweight division – something few would ever have expected. It’s hard to overstate the enormity of Saturday’s bout. It may well have been the biggest upset in boxing since James “Buster” Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson in 1990. What’s more, major bouts with Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder may well be out of Joshua’s future. Again it’s difficult to overstate the enormity of this upset.
Earlier in the evening, the popular Katie Taylor became the undisputed lightweight champion of the world by sqeaking past Delfine Persoon via close decision. Callum Smith also showed he’s a super middleweight titlist to be reckoned with by wiping out Hassan N’Dam in the third.