Did Andy Ruiz Jr. bring back your hunger for boxing?
By Gerardo Granados: Last Saturday night the upset of the year took place when late replacement Andy Ruiz Jr. beat Anthony Joshua by a seventh round knockout to win the WBA super, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles at Madison Square Garden in New York. Before the fight took place, Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) was viewed as the sacrificial lamb to get Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) ready for a unification fight against WBC belt holder Deontay Wilder.
As all the readers were able to witness, the underdog Ruiz rose from the canvas in round three to come back to to defeat Joshua after knocking him down four times.
The iconic moment came in round seven when Joshua was out on his feet, holding to the ropes and Ruiz jumping in the center of the ring with genuine joy now forms part of our boxing history. Ruiz knocked Joshua down twice in the seventh round, and the fight was halted after the second knockdown.
Real fight fans, the ones who follow boxing on weekly bases, already knew who Andy Ruiz Jr. was, but some fans were not so well informed, fell into the trap of the physical appearance and thought that because of Ruiz appearance that he had no chance to beat Joshua. I will be honest and recognize that three years ago or so I fell for the same trap too. But prior to his fight against Joseph Parker, I already knew that Ruiz was a legit threat for any title holder.
Where did Joshua go wrong?
All I have are questions and brief explanations related to the Joshua versus Ruiz Jr. fight. Why wasn’t Joshua able to prepare and execute a game plan to beat Ruiz? I blame it on his team, but Joshua isn’t a novice boxer, so he must also share the blame for being overconfident. Why wasn’t Joshua able to adjust throughout the fight? Maybe we could agree that this is his corner’s fault. Why was Joshua´s corner missing in action last Saturday night? Perhaps this was the first time Joshua was in real trouble, and also the first time he needed wise advice in one of his fights. It was only until now that we could notice his corner absence in giving Joshua any help.
Joshua has no excuses for his performance
Why would the reader believe any excuse made on social media when Joshua never made one? For sure the reader didn’t fall for the panic attack excuse.
Does Joshua need a new trainer? Yes, but who could help him to prepare for his rematch against Ruiz? I would like to see Teddy Atlas, but I bet the reader thinks different.
Did Joshua overlook Ruiz? I think he did, and he also might be making the same mistake on his rematch.
Should Joshua face Ruiz in an immediate rematch?
Is it good idea to have a direct rematch? Maybe a tune-up before to prepare him for Ruiz´s fighting style could help him improve, but I fully respect Joshua for taking the risk of a direct rematch. It is double or nothing for Joshua, so the pressure will be on him.
Can Joshua adjust to Ruiz´s fast hand speed combinations and quick feet? Not with his current team and trainer, because we all saw the result in the first fight, and that could have been prevented.
Will Joshua finally morph into a Wladimir Klitschko boring robotic boxing style for his next fight? I bet we will finally see it happen. It’ll be the same way Wladimir changed trainers from Fritz Sdunek and hired Emanuel Steward. I can see Joshua getting rid off Robert McCracken to get someone with experience handling heavyweight champions.
Last time I saw this kind of upset where the contender had a real chance to win, but that no one would bet their house on him was when Tyson Fury beat the old dragon Wladimir Klitschko in 2015.
Back then, I thought it was a coin toss. But Ruiz´s upset over Joshua was different, as I stated prior to the fight. I thought that Ruiz was the underdog, but also that he was a live one. Nonetheless, I also picked Joshua to win by stoppage in the seventh round. How ironic was that Ruiz proved me wrong in the same round I had picked.
When Tyson Fury beat Wladimir Klitschko, the IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight titles ended up free for grabs soon after for upcoming contenders, but only one of them [Joshua] had an efficient promoter [Eddie Hearn] to make the right deals to make him the next cash cow. What will be the effect of Ruiz holding three major belts? Will Hearn or DAZN be happy with it? Can Andy hold on to them if he was to win his rematch against Joshua? I think money rules and same way as when Fury got stripped by the IBF, there is a real risk for Ruiz too. I asked one of my knowledgeable friends if he thinks Ruiz will have a long reign but he never answered me.
Many major media puppets gave for granted that a big fight between WBC belt holder Deontay Wilder and Joshua was going to take place soon in 2020. Even an ESPN “boxing analyst” insulted Ruiz with ignorant remarks after he defeated Joshua, and then he also insulted Canelo Alvarez. Yes, I know that there is no logic explanation of how he got Teddy Atlas’ job, because I don’t assume, I am certain that he doesn’t even knows the basics about boxing.
Ruiz’s victory has increased interest in heavyweight boxing
Heavyweight boxing hasn’t been so alive in the spotlight and more important in the conversations at the workplace in a really long time, and with Ruiz in the mix all heavyweights boxing landscape has changed. Can you imagine how the young lions in the division must feel to see how Ruiz beat up Joshua from pillar to post? I bet that their confidence, hunger and determination rose to the sky after last Saturday night.
Leading up to the Joshua-Ruiz fight, I asked via twitter to Ruiz, “how hungry for fame and glory are you?” and he replied, “you can keep the fame, I am after glory.” That simple reply made me remember fighters from the past that placed pride above money. During the build up for his fight with Joshua, I noticed how Ruiz started to gain more and more attention, and also more followers and after his victory, Andy must have become a fan favorite overnight.
There are new combinations of fights to be made, perhaps not only more fight fans are paying more attention to the heavyweight division, but also our hungry for pro boxing is back. That’s what I believe, but what about the reader. Do you agree?