Editor's letter | Highlight 4 | Issue | Premium | Jun 04 2019

Andy Ruiz and the curse of the upset

Andy Ruiz is a breath of fresh air but he will do well to keep his titles long term
Andy Ruiz
Ruiz is sure that he will beat Joshua again Action Images/Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

HEAVYWEIGHT upsets, as exciting as they are, generally cause absolute chaos. In fact, the current and seemingly never-ending situation of multiple champions can be traced back to February 1978 when Leon Spinks stunned undisputed king, Muhammad Ali, to win the world title.

Ali and Spinks decided on a rematch so the WBC stripped the new champion for failing to defend against No.1 contender, Ken Norton. Norton then picked up the belt by default, while Ali regained the WBA title from Spinks. It would take nine years until there was another unified champion when, in 1987, Mike Tyson outscored James “Bonecrusher” Smith to add the WBA belt to the WBC strap he already owned.

Tyson Fury was forced to endure something similar to Spinks after he surprised Wladimir Klitschko in 2015. Three belts quickly became two as the IBF stripped him within days of the upset for failing to negotiate a mandatory defence and agree to a return with Wlad instead. In the end, Fury didn’t make any defences as he completely lost his grip on the championship, causing it to shatter further.


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