Inside the Iconic Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, a man nicknamed “The Destroyer” did just that, as Andy Ruiz Junior ripped the WBA (Super) IBF, WBO and IBO Heavyweight Titles from Anthony Joshua in a shock of epic proportions.
For a win in the sport of this magnitude to be classed as a fluke, it would usually involve a “bingo” punch, just like the one Hasim Rahman detonated on Lennox Lewis’ chin in South Africa back in 2001 to relieve the Brit of his Heavyweight belts.
With Ruiz Jr however, he rallied from a knockdown in the third to score two even more hurtful knockdowns of his own in the same session. The Mexican American visibly shook Joshua, and rubber stamped one of the biggest Heavyweight shocks of all time with two more knockdowns in round seven to become holder of three of the four major belts on offer.
In my opinion, the only shock in Heavyweight boxing to top this achievement from Ruiz, is James “Buster” Douglas’ knockout win against Mike Tyson in Tokyo back in 1990, when, as a 42/1 betting underdog, the unheralded Douglas knocked out the most feared fighter on the planet at the time to become Undisputed Heavyweight Champion.
There have been other shocks in more recent history. Wladimir Klitschko’s shock stoppage defeats to both Corrie Sanders in 2003, and Lamon Brewster on year later in WBO Title fights were both unexpected against unheralded underdogs.
History has shown though, in all of those shocks, the victors have quickly faded away.
Rahman’s reign lasted one fight, when Lennox Lewis turned the tables with a one punch knockout of his own in their rematch.
“Buster” Douglas went exactly the same way, with Evander Holyfield ending Douglas’ reign via third round knockout. Although he would win eight of his remaining nine fights, he faced a much lower calibre of opponent.
Sanders would relinquish his WBO belt, and was stopped in eight in a challenge for the vacant WBC Title against Wladimir’s brother, Vitali in April 2004. Brewster made three low key defences of the WBO belt before going 2-3 in his last five fights.
Time will tell if Ruiz will go on to become an established Champion, but in the immediate future, he will have contenders queuing up to challenge him.
First up though, Joshua will surely activate a rematch clause that was included in the contract for their New York meeting, and promoter Eddie Hearn indicated that the rematch will take place in England in October or November.
Time will also tell if Joshua underestimated his opponent, or he was just genuinely beaten by the better man.
Joshua was heard in the corner during the fight with Ruiz asking his trainer, Robert McCracken, “Why am I feeling like this?” which suggested he was either flat, or he was shaken from the damaged caused by Ruiz.
The win itself was certainly no fluke. Ruiz deceived the public and the people in the know with his size, and he proved that the sport isn’t a beauty contest. He used his speed and timing to deliver an impressive performance, and he will provide just as stiff a test when the expected rematch with Joshua takes place this Winter.