Former heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua shockingly suffered his first professional loss to the hands of Andy Ruiz Jr. in June 2019.
In that fight, he knocked down Ruiz in the third round only to get dropped twice later in the round himself. A clearly rattled Joshua never really recovered and was downed twice more in the seventh as the fight was stopped.
Joshua avenged his loss to Ruiz just six months later in a landslide decision to win back his titles. He defended the titles last December by knocking out Kubrat Pulev but couldn't repeat the feat in September when he was soundly and unanimously outpointed by Oleksandr Usyk.
If you ask Ruiz (34-2, 22 KOs), he says Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) is a different fighter since his first career loss.
“I wouldn’t want to destroy anybody’s career at all, but I can see him being gunshy and hesitating a little bit, and I can see him getting hurt,” Ruiz told The Last Stand with Brian Custer. “Maybe he’s a little scared of getting hurt because he doesn’t want the same thing happening. It’s normal for fighters, and I think he needs to get his confidence back.
“No, I wouldn’t say I ruined him. I wouldn’t want to ruin anybody’s career … He is hesitating. He’s thinking too much instead of going in there and being the dog that [he is].”
Ruiz also commented on his rematch with Joshua, a fight of which he tipped the scales at 283½ pounds. He was 268 pounds in their first fight.
“He won the rematch against me because I didn’t do my part. That’s the only reason,” said Ruiz. “If I had stuck to the game plan and did the same thing that I did in the first fight, trust me, I would have beat him. But I had to learn the hard way.
“I had to get back on the ladder and get back on top, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I just hope Anthony Joshua overcomes this and he becomes champion again so I can take those belts back.”
Ruiz was last in the ring in May and won a spirited unanimous decision against Chris Arreola.
He said he wants to fight again by January.
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com