Andy Ruiz Shocks Anthony Joshua in Huge Heavyweight Upset
Despite long odds, Andy Ruiz Jr. overcame a third-round knockdown to stop Anthony Joshua and become the unified heavyweight champion of the world in one of the biggest upsets in heavyweight boxing history.
It seemed as if the entire country of England came to New York to see Joshua fight in his much anticipated U.S. debut at Madison Square Garden in New York on Saturday night. The crowd was huge and raucous. There were screams of adulation. The was jovial laughter. There were songs aplenty.
But at the end of things, only tears remained for England and their fallen hero.
Joshua, from Watford, England, entered the fight ranked the No. 1 heavyweight in the world by both The Ring magazine and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. Toting with him the IBF WBA and WBO heavyweight titles, Joshua couldn’t have envisioned being defeated by Ruiz, a replacement opponent from Imperial, California, who only got the opportunity to fight Joshua because the original opponent, Jarrell Miller, failed several PED drug tests during the leadup to the fight.
Ruiz stepped in with only about a month left in the promotion, but he certainly made the most of the opportunity by handing Joshua the first loss of his professional career in a huge upset for the ages.
With WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder announcing an agreement with lineal champion Tyson Fury for an earth-shattering rematch of their December 2018 bout that ended in a draw just one day prior, perhaps Joshua felt he needed to do something really special in his American debut against Ruiz.
Was that what happened? Or was Ruiz just the better man?
While a huge underdog heading into the fight, Ruiz had only lost by majority decision to then WBO titleholder Joseph Parker back in December 2015. And if this time would be different for the 29-year-old, it apparently wouldn’t come at the expense of him suffering for sake of the scale.
Ruiz weighed in at 268 pounds on Friday during the ceremonial prefight weigh-in. That’s 13 pounds over what the fighter weighed against Parker, and there was much said about him on social media and in the crowd about his more rotund body.
Did Ruiz focus more on skill this camp than worrying about conditioning? Whatever the case, what he did worked for him flawlessly.
Joshua was content in the first round to work behind the jab. Ruiz, the shorter fighter, steadily moved forward, throwing fast combinations whenever he could close the distance. If there was anything telling from the first round it was that Joshua was cautious about trading punches in close with Ruiz.
Joshua did well in the second. He landed a hard counter right and a left hook soon after to make his mark. At the end of round two, it appeared that Joshua had too many physical advantages to be in any real trouble on the night.
Ruiz was sent to the canvas in round three, and it seemed like the inevitable was about to happen. But if Ruiz was only meant to be a sacrifical lamb to Joshua’s heavyweight legacy, someone forgot to tell him about it. He rose to his feet and turned into a tornado when the two stood right in front of each other to trade big shots. Ruiz suddenly dropped Joshua, then did so again with about a minute left in the round.
The upset was brewing.
Joshua smartly stayed away from Ruiz in round four to the point that the American tried to use histrionics to urge Joshua to engage. Joshua wouldn’t bite, though, because he was still hurting from the previous round and needed to get his legs back under him.
In round five, Joshua kept Ruiz at the end of his longer punches for the most part. He even staggered Ruiz with the most telling blows of the stanza.
The next round was Joshua’s by a hair. He jabbed and moved and kept Ruiz from doing any real damage. But the end was near, even if maybe no one knew it.
Because at the start of round seven, Ruiz again exploded with heavy combinations that violently sent Joshua down to the canvas. Joshua bravely rose to his feet, even managing to hurt Ruiz with his own hard punches just seconds later.
But again Ruiz’s faster hands told the tale. Joshua went down the final time and the pro-Joshua crowd let out perhaps the biggest collective gasp that’s ever been uttered inside an arena for a big fight this side of Buster Douglas beating Mike Tyson in 1986.
All of England had traveled to New York for nothing.
Joshua made it to his feet to beat the count, but there he stood in the corner, soon to be the former undefeated heavyweight champion. Referee Mike Griffin called for Joshua to walk toward him but the staggered giant just stood there in the corner unable to respond to the call.
Ruiz was the new unified heavyweight champion of the world.
PERSOON BEATS TAYLOR…OR NAH?
Katie Taylor’s historic night in New York didn’t come easy.
Taylor defeated Delfine Persoon by majority decision, 96-94, 96-94, 95-95, in a back-and-forth brawl to become the first undisputed lightweight champion in women’s boxing history.
Taylor also became the second female Ring magazine champion in any weight class and second undisputed champion of a women’s division behind Claressa Shields.
Taylor, 32, from Bray, Ireland, was a significant favorite to defeat Persoon, 34, from Roeselare, Belgium and it looked like the bookies got it right early in the fight.
Taylor was cold and precise at the opening bell. She was a patient stalker, working in and out of range almost effortlessly to get the better of just about every single exchange. She threw both better punches and more of them.
But Persoon was valiant and persistent in her aggression. She didn’t quite have Taylor’s pristine form, but she worked diligently with what she possessed to constantly throw punches at the ever-moving Taylor during the early rounds.
There weren’t many of them early on, but at times Persoon was able to land hard punches to keep Taylor from having her way completely.
By round five, Persoon identified her best strategy was corralling Taylor to the ropes. Even then, though, at least during the first half of the fight, Taylor evaded her opponent’s looping punches to land hard counters.
Taylor’s footwork did the rest. Even when Persoon managed to get Taylor to the ropes, it never lasted very long. Taylor moved around the ring as if she were capable of gliding while Persoon was only a plodder.
But Persoon came on strong in round seven. She had thrown punches in bunches from the opening bell, and they were finally paying off. Where early, Taylor was able to move out of the way of Persoon’s fists, as the bout progressed a now tired Taylor was getting beat to the punch. More importantly, Persoon just kept coming forward and throwing punches.
The two spent much of the latter parts of the fight standing toe-to-toe to hurl punches at each other. Not anxious to lose her lightweight title belt, Persoon was often the person who started and finished the action.
The crowd roared in appreciation during the tenth and final round. The two staggered each other with vicious combinations until the final bell tolled. The pro-Taylor crowd seemed worried when the scorecards were announced. Had Taylor, the national hero of Ireland, come up just a little short? Was this the end of Taylor's undefeated professional run?
But they screamed loudly with delight when Taylor was ultimately announced the winner. One of the biggest superstars in women’s boxing, Taylor, had indeed earned her career-defining moment in a truly great fight between two noble warriors.
It wasn't easy, but Taylor made history.
SIMPLE NAME, STELLAR GAME
Callum Smith defeated Hassan N'Dam by TKO at 2:56 of round three to defend his WBC and Ring magazine super middleweight titles in fine form on Saturday night in the featured undercard bout of the Anthony Johsua vs Andy Ruiz card at Madison Square Garden in New York.
If Smith, 29, from Liverpool, England, was trying to impress American fight fans, he most certainly pulled it off. It wasn’t quite like the Beatles storming across the Atlantic to make their mark on history, but it wasn’t nothing either.
N’Dam, 35, who was born in Cameroon but now resides in Monte Carlo, Monaco, was fit for being a foe for Smith to look impressive against. He spent the majority of his career at middleweight and he never really reached the top of that heap but had enjoyed a good enough run as a contender and secondary titlist that he was a promotable adversary.
Smith dropped N’Dam twice at the end of the opening round. The first knockdown was courtesy a counter left hook while N’Dam was trying to push forward. It was clear at that moment that the fight would soon be over, but to his credit N’Dam got up anyway.
Smith is a lovely fighter. He carries his hands high and unleashes mechanically precise counters that look so correct they could be the pictures in a textbook about how to properly throw punches.
It probably didn’t hurt that Smith was so much naturally bigger than N’Dam, but nonetheless, another hook dropped N’Dam during the first minute of round two. The Frech-Cameroonian thought better of his aggressive approach after that in favor of circling around the ring with his guard up.
Who could blame him?
But Smith is a smart professional. He didn’t rush things. He patiently moved forward and worked everything behind a straight jab. He unleashed combinations when he could and kept the pressure on his prey.
The end came at the end of round three. It wasn’t merciful so much as it was required. Smith uncoiled another big punch–this time a counter right hand that put N’Dam flat on his back.
The former middleweight bravely rose to his feet by a count of seven, but he wobbled like a drunken sailor standing on the deck of a storm-riddled ship, so there was no way he could have been let back in the fight.
Smith looked excellent against N'Dam. People might wonder now how he might look against Canelo Alvarez someday soon, too.