Advertisement: IBO Boxing

Joshua-Ruiz II Is Like Nothing We've Ever Seen Before


As Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua make their final preparations for Saturday’s heavyweight title rematch, a team of 175 builders are putting the finishing touches on the venue that will house it, the Diriyah Arena in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh.

About a month and a half ago, the arena was nothing more than a plot of land with a few steel beams erected, but now it is a full-on 15,000 seat outdoor event center.

It’s a fitting home for the fight—a completely new venue in an unthinkable location to host a fight that can’t quite be pegged in historical terms either.

When Ruiz upset Joshua on June 1 of this year, it was rightfully called one of the most shocking upsets in boxing history. There had been others, of course, that were bigger in terms of the width of the betting lines, but Ruiz’s victory was startling for reasons beyond the perceived difference in talent according to bookies. As a late-notice replacement for Jarrell Miller, who tested positive for three difference illegal substances and had himself ousted from the bout with Joshua, Ruiz with his fleshy physique no doubt put organizers at ease about the forthcoming post-fight drug test results. Nothing Ruiz was putting in his body could be performance-enhancing, right?

As it turned out, he didn’t need it. After surviving an early knockdown, Ruiz battered Joshua, dropping him again and again until referee Michael Griffin had seen enough. The image of the portly Ruiz jumping for joy as the Adonis-like, chiseled Joshua rested on the ropes in defeat was as unlikely a scene, visually, as one could possibly even script.

But Joshua-Ruiz’s place among all-time shocking upsets is where the fight, and this rematch’s accurate alignment with historical bouts kind of ends, mostly because it’s difficult to determine what exactly history will think of either Ruiz or Joshua. In many ways, the magnitude of the upset in the first bout will be determined by what happens in the rematch. If Joshua can avenge defeat, it will show that the result of the first fight wasn’t what should have happened. If Ruiz carves through him again however, it would show that both fighters were just poorly scouted, and the bouts just as poorly prognosticated from the start.

That’s why it’s most appropriate to describe the upset in the first contest as “shocking” rather than “big.” A big upset suggests something that shouldn’t have happened—a bout that would have yielded a different result 99 times out of 100, and the one that played out was the outlier. The biggest upsets in boxing history, the ones Ruiz’s victory have been listed alongside, typically proved to be exactly that. Buster Douglas lost his title in the next fight after beating Mike Tyson, Leon Spinks lost his rematch with Muhammad Ali, James Braddock was KO’d after defeating Max Baer.

joshua-ruiz (2)_2

Ali and Tyson, for example, were undeniably great, regardless of those results and whether they were ever avenged (and in Tyson’s case, it wasn’t). Joshua, like them, was the highest profile heavyweight of the day heading into the first contest. However, his stature is and was unquestionably greater than his resume. Without having faced, let alone defeated the other heavyweight champs expected to challenge him, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, Joshua became one of the richest fighters ever, and one of the biggest box office attractions the sport has ever seen. That isn’t so much an indictment of Joshua’s accomplishments, which in and of themselves are impressive still, but a lauding of the remarkable wealth and popularity he’s amassed.

There hasn’t been a fighter who has become this rich and this popular without also going down as a Hall of Famer. Even brief cultural phenomena like Naseem Hamed and Ray Mancini might not have amounted to the over-the-moon expectations placed upon them during their peaks, but they still made it to the Hall. If Joshua lost Saturday’s rematch and his career fizzled from there on out, would he wind up in Canastota? And if not, will we remember Ruiz’s victory—and potentially victories—over him as upsets, or merely revelations?

Saturday’s event itself has been compared to the Rumble In The Jungle or the Thrilla In Manila, which is accurate in that they were heavyweight title bouts that took place in unique locations under the shadow of oppressive political regimes. Of the participants in those bouts, the only one either fighter could really be compared to is Joshua, to George Foreman. Had Foreman not come back after that loss, as many believed he wouldn’t, and hadn’t had the Fight of the Year two years later, knocked Joe Frazier out again, and more importantly, had an unthinkable second chapter two decades later, he would obviously have been remembered much differently.

The course of Joshua’s career, and perhaps ultimately his legacy, rests on this fight, and as a result, so does our categorization of Ruiz’s magical win this past June. If Ruiz is as good as he appeared to be the first time, as good as perhaps we should have thought he was, then this story will be told in a completely different way 20 years from now.

Either way, we’ll have witnessed one of the most shocking, and maybe two of the most unique moments in the history of boxing.

User Comments and Feedback
Comment by eco1 on 12-03-2019

[QUOTE=Toffee;20225840]Yes, people were claiming it will be too hot. I explained that even when it's warmer than usual for this time of year, it's still very comfortable.[/QUOTE] that is not warm for me, lol.

Comment by MinuteMaid5 on 12-03-2019

Like Ray Mancini said, body shots and uppercuts are what Ruiz should look for.......

Comment by Toffee on 12-03-2019

[QUOTE=eco1;20225693]Dude, 20 celsius is just 68 Fahrenheit.[/QUOTE] Yes, people were claiming it will be too hot. I explained that even when it's warmer than usual for this time of year, it's still very comfortable.

Comment by eco1 on 12-02-2019

[QUOTE=Toffee;20224346]It's unseasonably warm in Diriyah at the moment. Temperature forecast for Saturday is for the low 20s Celsius. Maybe down to about 17/18 for the fight? Wouldn't have thought it will be a problem.[/QUOTE] Dude, 20 celsius is just 68…

Comment by FlyingFJ on 12-02-2019

Good article, Corey Erdman. Thank you. We need more articles like this on this forum. Had enough of promotional stuff.

Top Headlines
Bilal Fawaz Inks Agreement With MTK Global Lewis Ritson Vows To Fight His Way To a WBA Title Shot Fury vs. Joshua: Hearn Says Deal On The Verge of Being Put on Paper Graveyard Shifts At Warehouse Motivated Molina To Turn Around Boxing Career News: Alejandro Santiago, Faust, Demirezen, Tarimo vs. Fleming Josh Taylor: Me vs. Jose Ramirez is One of The Biggest Fights in Boxing Tim Tszyu Return Targeted For December, A Few Names in Play Shane McGuigan Alleged To Have Said Carl Frampton 'Was Finished' Mario Cazares Confident That He Will End Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Eubank Jr: Canelo, Murata, Golovkin, Charlo - I'll Fight Whoever I Can Get Fast Wilfredo Mendez Now Working With Memo, Targeting November Return Lipinets-Abdukakhorov Interim Title Fight Remains On Course, Backup Plan In Place Hearn Hopes Canelo-Golden Boy Rift Can Be Resolved in Time For 2020 Bout Jay Harris vs. Marcel Braithwaite on October 18 in Wakefield Luis Nery: Eddy Reynoso Has Helped Me A lot With My Defense Josh Taylor vs. Apinun Khongsong, Undercard Bouts on ESPN+ Damien Vazquez Hopes Brandon Figueroa Wants a War on Inside Arum on Fury-Wilder III: We're Working To Have Limited Amount Of Fans On 12/19 Briedis vs. Dorticos - Bunn, Radovan, Alisch on Undercard Pedraza: I Forgot About Molina, But Was Happy To Take Fight When They Offered It Again Lubin Favors Charlo To Beat Rosario; Motivated To Avenge KO Loss To Charlo Teofimo Lopez: There's No Rematch Clause In Contracts For Lomachenko Fight WBC Heavyweight Mandatory Situation Remains Unclear Even as Povetkin-Whyte II is Set Efe Ajagba: Excited To Be Back Again Doing What I Love Ohara Davies: I'm Going in There To Destroy Tyrone McKenna! Top Rank Prez Gives Take on Canelo vs. Golden Boy, DAZN Legal Battle Serhii Bohachuck vs. Alejandro Davila on September 25 in Mexico Usyk Will Not Step Aside From Joshua Title Shot, Says Hearn Erickson Lubin vs. Terrell Gausha: The Play-In Mike Tyson Biopic Will Not Include Robin Givens, Who Issued Legal Letter Chavez Sr. Sends Message of Support To Recovering Ricardo Mayorga Evan Holyfield Seeks New Management; Reunites With Amateur Coach After Trainer Split Miguel Berchelt Expects Explosive Contest With Oscar Valdez Anthony Joshua Very Motivated To Fight This Year, Says Hearn Murtazaliev On Standby To Fill In For Charlo Or Rosario On September 26 Erickson Lubin: I Have To Bring The Heat From The Opening Bell Usyk vs. Chisora Being Rescheduled is Close, Says Hearn Gausha: If I Hurt Erickson Lubin - I Will Look To Get Him Out of There! Roy Jones Proud of Countryman Povetkin For Comeback KO of Whyte Lee McGregor Links Up With Ben Davison Ahead of Guerfi Fight
Latest Forum Threads