Anthony Joshua has endured considerable backlash for stating that Andy Ruiz Jr. landed “a punch from the gods” in the third round of their heavyweight title fight.
The implication, critics contend, is that Ruiz merely hit him with a lucky shot after Joshua became the first opponent to put the durable Ruiz on the canvas. Ruiz quickly got to his feet after Joshua dropped him with a left hook at the 2:17 mark of the third round.
“When I say, ‘a punch from the gods,’ it’s not that it was lucky,” Joshua, who’ll face Ruiz again Saturday night, told Sky Sports for a story posted to its website Tuesday. “It was just the perfect punch that anyone could ask for going into a world heavyweight title fight.”
The IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO champ caught Joshua with a left hook just 26 seconds after he went down, a punch that completely changed their fight and careers. The huge underdog followed up by landing a right hand to the top of Joshua’s head that sent him to the canvas with 1:47 to go in the third round.
An accumulation of Ruiz’s punches sent Joshua to the canvas the second time toward the end of the third round.
The heavily favored British superstar survived that treacherous third round, but Ruiz knocked him down twice more in the seventh round. Referee Michael Griffin halted their scheduled 12-rounder 1:27 into the seventh round because Joshua, backed into his own corner, didn’t respond to his commands.
“He said my punch was from the gods as well,” Joshua explained. “[His] was a great punch. Boxing is about timing, millimeters. It was a brilliant punch. It was from the gods. You could not ask for a better punch. I believe it was a punch from the gods.”
Joshua considers his shot that dropped Joshua “a punch from the gods,” too.
“It was, but what followed was not,” Joshua said. “It was a blessing that I put him down. It was from the gods that I was the first to put him down. I hope he has that in the back of his mind.”
The 30-year-old Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs), of Watford, England, is slightly more than a 2-1 favorite to win back his titles from the 30-year-old Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs), of Imperial, California, at Diriyah Arena in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.
DAZN will stream their immediate rematch in the United States on Saturday as part of a show scheduled to start at 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT. Joshua-Ruiz II will headline a Sky Sports Box Office pay-per-view event in the United Kingdom (5 p.m. GMT; £24.95 in HD).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.