By Jon Uddin🖋️
“Everybody that’s fought A.J. has been scared. I’m not scared. I’m going to come in aggressive, work the body, let my hands go with combinations, he’s never fought anybody like me. Come June 1st the world will see when I become the first Mexican Heavyweight Champion.”…
Upon hearing these words from Andy Ruiz days before his fight with then Heavyweight Champion Anthony Joshua, it was easy to file his statement away with the typical things you hear from a heavy underdog going into the biggest fight of their career…
These quotes were dismissed by boxing fans and media alike as cliche from a man having his “Rocky” moment in boxing history, add to that the eye test of comparing the physique of the chiseled Joshua and the chubby doughboy frame of Ruiz, and his words are written off 10 times easier without a second thought.
Fast forward to Saturday night in Madison Square Garden where in front of approximately 19,000 fans we see Ruiz bring the fight to Joshua as he had promised, getting put down in the third round but bouncing back immediately and just as aggressive. Ruiz used Joshua’s offense to set up his own, punching with him and landing hard counter shots and eventually returned the favor two fold by dropping the Champion twice the same round, the bell being Joshua’s saving grace at the time.
Fast forward to the seventh round where Ruiz turns the heat up again on a still weary Joshua and puts him down two more times in the round, the last forcing referee Michael Griffin to wave the fight off. An exuberant Ruiz jumped center ring with his arms raised in victory as the crowd looked on in shock at what they had just witnessed, celebrating the delivery on his promise of becoming the first Mexican Heavyweight Champion.
Ruiz had fought through the 22-1 underdog odds. He had fought through the stigma of only being happy to cash a lottery ticket that he would never have gotten if not for another fighter being popped for PEDs. The jokes about his weight. Most importantly, Ruiz ignored the chorus of boos that rained down on him at Madison Square Garden when being introduced and fought through the man across from him in the ring, Anthony Joshua, and did so leaving no doubts about who the better man was.
Now the 29 year old Ruiz (33-1-0, 22KO) holds four of the Heavyweight titles (IBF, IBO, WBA, WBO) that not only represent being the man in the division, but now changes the future for him, his wife and five children, and his mother. As Ruiz said in his post fight press conference, “Our lives are gonna change, we don’t have to struggle no more.”