ANDY RUIZ is one of the unlikeliest heavyweight champions in history after winning the WBA, IBF and WBO titles and stopping Anthony Joshua in seven rounds inside New York’s Madison Garden. The new champion refused to commit to an immediate rematch at the post-fight press conference, insisting he would leave that for his team to decide. Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, seemed more certain that the rematch clause in the contract will be triggered.
“Joshua will be devastated when all this hits him, all he’ll want is the chance to put it right,” said Hearn, who insisted there will be no issue with the sanctioning bodies stripping Ruiz should he take on Joshua in his next fight.
“For now Joshua is genuinely pleased for Andy Ruiz. You know that 22 fights in, he’s still learning the sport of boxing. He’s always been learning on the job. Unfortunately, when you’re learning on the job, things can go wrong. He understands sport, he understands boxing and he got beaten by the better man.
“I’d love to be able to stand here and tell you that Joshua had a bad training camp, but I can’t, because it wouldn’t be true. He got beat fair and square by the better man.”
Happy to play the part as the jolly fat man throughout the build up, some kind of novelty act just here for a good time, Ruiz stopped smiling at the sound of the opening bell and went to work. He got up in round three from a heavy knockdown before almost immediately returning the favour, decking Joshua twice before the session ended.
“That was my first time on the canvas, I was like, ‘what the hell just happened’,” Ruiz said. “But I had to get him back, I had to return the favour. That was my Mexican spirit coming through, I had to get him back. I was waiting for him to open up and break him down to the body. He hits really hard, man. But I thought he opened up too much so I could counter him.
“I’ve been working really hard, man. I wanted to prove all the doubters wrong, I’d seen all the comments. Well, what do you know, I’m the first Mexican heavyweight champion of the world. I’m still pinching myself to see if this is real, man. Wow.
“All I need to do now is get in shape and look like ‘AJ’, I want to get in really good shape,” Ruiz chuckled. Wearing a basketball vest over a t-shirt Ruiz, entered the room with a smile that stretched all over his face. “I’m never going to let these belts go.
“I’m going to get back in the gym and work even harder, I’m actually more motivated now I’m the champion.
“Before this fight, I always said I wanted to fight Joshua because I knew I could beat him, I knew he opened up too much. My speed and movement was always going to be too much for him
“I’ve been working really hard, man. I wanted to prove all the doubters wrong, I’d seen all the comments. Well, what do you know, I’m the first Mexican heavyweight champion of the world. I’m still pinching myself to see if this is real, man. Wow.”
He wasn’t the only one. One could taste the shock in the arena as the upset started to unfold.
“I was waiting for him to open up and break him down to the body,” Ruiz continued. “He hits really hard, man. But I thought he opened up too much so I could counter him.”