Andy Ruiz Jr makes History – Shakes up the Heavyweight Division. Well what can you say? Time and time again we hear one punch can change the game when it comes to a heavyweight clash, but when you say he has a punchers chance, that was pretty much my take on Andy Ruiz’s chances against the heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua. This is why we love the fight game though, because upsets can happen and will happen – no one really knows what is going to happen when amidst the chaos, punches are being thrown and punches are being landed.
Saturday night in the esteemed garden of Madison Square, we saw exactly what can happen when punches are landed. Ruiz Jr was known for having fast hands, but it wasn’t the hand speed of Ruiz Jr that surprised me, it was the speed at which he was countering Joshua with punches in bunches that I think caught AJ off guard. AJ was rocked but he was being defensively responsible by bringing his hands back high to cover up but Ruiz’s hands were just so quick that he was able to still penetrate AJ’s guard. The questions around Joshua’s chin will also continue and the inevitable question now is – can Joshua really stand up to the power of Wilder?
Understandably many are already trying to answer why AJ lost this fight – was he really beaten by the better boxer or was there something else which caused his downfall. I’ve heard he was partying too much in Miami and thus overlooked and underestimated Andy Ruiz Jr. I’ve heard he wasn’t in condition for this fight and the way he was spitting out his mouth piece out is often a sign that one is really gassed and wants to buy some extra time to recover. This is also quite ironic since AJ always come in as if he has been chiselled from stone and Ruiz Jr came in looking like he had one too many snicker bars in the lead up to this fight, yet it was the bigger and ‘chubbier’ man in Ruiz Jr who was fighting fit, not AJ.
I’ll attempt to answer this with my own opinion but I disagree that AJ was taking Ruiz Jr lightly, it can happen when you suddenly have to fight a replacement fighter and have only five weeks to prepare, Ruiz Jr is also better than the man he was replacing, Jarrell Miller – so AJ was actually taking on a tougher opponent and giving him just over a month to switch tactics and prepare for him but the same can be said for Ruiz Jr, five weeks to get ready to face the world champion would have been a tough task but he climbed that mountain and is now champion of the world. I also believe AJ used questionable tactics in this fight – perhaps he was wanting to make a statement fighting in the USA for the first time, in an arena where so many greats have fought. AJ possibly wanted to get a highlight reel knockout to match that of his heavyweight rival Deontay Wilder who recently destroyed Dominic Breazeale in just one round, that led AJ going in for the kill in round three and walking into the fire, resulting in getting counter punched by Ruiz Jr. You’ve also got to question his coaches, Joshua was clearly looking for guidance and his coaches didn’t seem to say anything outside the ordinary, great coaches such as Angelo Dundee – who helped train Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard, were able to pick their fighters up when it mattered most yet Joshua’s corner was found wanting. Joshua committed a cardinal sin by pursuing a fight on the inside, Joshua is the taller fighter so the one place his height and reach advantage is negated is inside the pocket and that’s exactly where Ruiz would like to find him and he did. Once there a shorter fighter has the advantage because suddenly he now has more to hit whereas AJ is punching down. Joshua was stood upright inside and Ruiz Jr made him pay dearly.
Where does that leave the heavyweight division now? Deontay Wilder will probably regret announcing he is fighting a rematch with Luis Ortiz because he very likely could have got a shot at Ruiz Jr and his titles next and having the chance to claim all of the divisions belts outright. Don’t forget both Wilder and Ruiz Jr are Al Haymon’s fighters and Haymon usually has his fighters take on each other so he holds all the power in the heavyweight division now. Although I hate to see the Watford fighter lose, the win was great news for the division because we now have another name thrown into the mix and Ruiz Jr will be a handful for anyone. Ruiz who made history by becoming the first heavyweight from Mexico, a great boxing nation, will no doubt have even more self belief in his skills and adding his name to the heavyweight circle makes for more exciting possibilities. We now have Andy Ruiz Jr, Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, Luis Ortiz and Dillian Whyte who are all capable of becoming champions. For Joshua, the loss will be a test of his mental strength, winning everything so early in his career including Olympic gold, becoming the face of boxing(alongside Canelo Alvarez) and winning people over, he will look to rebuild his career – will he risk the rematch with Ruiz Jr immediately or will he take on a confidence boosting fight to start his journey back to reclaiming the heavyweight title. He knows everyone he fights will have a self belief they can wobble him, the sense of fear fighting against AJ has been broken and fighting is often played out in the mind before it was battled out inside the ring. Can AJ overcome this and prove he really is a great fighter by winning the title back?
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