Andy Ruiz Jr. shocked the world last June in stopping IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua in the 7th round to rip his three titles away from him in New York. The victory made Ruiz Jr. (33-1, 22 KOs) the first Mexican heavyweight world champion, and turned him into a minor celebrity overnight.
Ruiz made millions, and he’s purchased a lot of nice things for himself and his family. Nevertheless, the odds-makers don’t believe that Ruiz can do it again when he faces Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) in their rematch on December 7th, and they’ve installed AJ as the favorite. There’s also a lot of boxing fans that believe Joshua will beat Ruiz again, and they attribute his previous loss as a lucky punch. That’s also what Joshua is saying. He thinks Ruiz got lucky.
Ruiz says he’s been underestimated his whole life
“Everybody has been underestimating since I was young,” said Ruiz Jr. said to ESPN’s First Take. “The best thing that I did was prove them wrong. I think that was the sweet victory that I had. It was crazy, man. It was my first time getting dropped too. I was dropped in the 3rd round. I got up. I think it was the Mexican warrior in me.
You know it was. I think Anthony Joshua said it was ‘a punch from the Gods,’ you know? It was all that hard work and dedication that I’ve been doing since I was six years old. I think fighting the top brings out the best in me,” said Ruiz Jr.
The first two rounds were pretty even in the Joshua-Ruiz fight on June 1. Joshua wasn’t doing a whole lot, but neither was Ruiz. Things didn’t get interesting until round 3 when Joshua caught Ruiz with a perfectly timed left hook that dropped him hard.
That was the first hard shot that Joshua threw in the fight, and Ruiz Jr. wasn’t ready for it. When Ruiz got up, he was ready for war. Joshua miscalculated he hurt he was, and he waded forward without caution and clipped by a left hook from Andy. Joshua ended up getting dropped twice in the round. He probably would have been knocked out in that round if the bell had sounded.
Stephen A. Smith underestimated Ruiz Jr.
“When Molly talks about people underestimating you, that would be me,” said Stephen A. Smith on ESPN’s First Take in talking about Ruiz. “You came in as an 11 to 1 underdog. You shocked the world. Your skills are big time.
You’ve got fast hands, you can box, you can take a punch, and you’ve got a lot of heart. I got on you about your physique a little bit, but that’s all I was saying. I certainly wasn’t questioning your skills or your 33-1 record with 22 KOs, for crying out loud, and you’d never been dropped.
My issue is this: boxing, we’d talked about Anthony Joshua vs. Deontay Wilder. It was a mega-fight. People question that this was tantamount to Mike Tyson being upset by Buster Douglas. My response to you and Max [Kellerman] is what’s wrong with me being disgusted, loving the sport of boxing, but not knowing it like you, not knowing it like Max, but loving it.
What’s wrong with me going like this, ‘damn.’ Now I’ve got to think about Ruiz going up against Anthony Joshua again, which is tantamount to Buster Douglas, instead of Tyson going against Evander Holyfield at that particular moment in time that Buster Douglas went up against Holyfield.
That’s all I was trying to say. Your greatness that night, and your skills as a boxer robbed us of a mega-fight that we don’t get enough of in the sport of boxing today. To that you say what? Is there a problem with that?,” said Smith to Ruiz.
It’s true that the upset win by Ruiz Jr ruined a much bigger fight between Joshua and WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. That’s the fight that the fans wanted to see. It was the same thing that Buster Douglas did in temporarily wrecking the fight between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield by beating Tyson in a big upset in Tokyo, Japan on February 11, 1990.
Douglas was a 42-1 underdog going into the Tyson fight. The fans wanted to see Tyson and Holyfield fight. Instead, it was Douglas facing Holyfield in October 1990. Douglas came into the fight with Holyfield out of shape, and he was stopped in three rounds.
Ruiz Jr: I’ve got to win in the same fashion on December 7th
“There’s no problem, man, Everyone is going to have their critics. Everyone is going to have their opinions, you know?” said Ruiz in addressing Smith. “And of course you had your own. I just went out there on June 1st, and did my thing, something I’ve always wanted to accomplish, and thank God for my victory. On December 7th, I’ve got to win again in the same fashion as I did on June 1st. I’ve got to prove a lot of people wrong again. That’s the hunger that I have in me. So I’m ready for December 7th,” said Ruiz.
I’m blessed to be the first Mexican heavyweight champion of the world,” said Ruiz Jr. “That’s what me and my family have been dreaming about, my coaches and me. Not just for me, but for all my people, you know? It’s just a big blessing,” said Ruiz.
The element of surprise is over for Ruiz Jr., and you can bet that Joshua and his trainer Rob McCracken will devise a good game plan to nullify Andy’s offense in the rematch. What Ruiz has going for him though is Joshua’s trainer hasn’t done much to improve his game over the years. It’s likely McCracken will fail at improving Joshua to any great extent for the rematch. So, it’s possible that we could see Ruiz do the same thing in the rematch as he did in the first fight.
Stephen wants to see Joshua-Ruiz winner face Deontay Wilder
“I’ve got to admit; I’m hoping for a sensational performance, whether it’s by you or Anthony Joshua just to justify a mega-fight, said Stephen A. said to Andy Ruiz Jr. “That’s what I want in boxing. I just want to know from both of you. I’ve got to get on both of you about this. Not you so much, Andy. You’ve got to go out there and perform. You can really, really fight. You’re going to kick a lot of tail. There’s no doubt about that.
I’m not taking anything away from you, but there’s something to be said about a mega-fight, and I think a repeat performance by you could potentially give us that against you and [Deontay] Wilder. Do you feel Andy that the next performance must be performed in even more spectacular fashion in order to keep the attention that the heavyweight division had before you knocked out Anthony Joshua,” said Smith.
The good news is that the winner of the Joshua vs. Ruiz Jr. 2 rematch will be free to move on, because there isn’t another rematch clause that will force a third fight if AJ doesn’t win. Joshua had a rematch clause for the first fight in the event he didn’t win. After Joshua was stopped in the 7th round on June 1 by Ruiz, he exercised his rematch clause to force a second fight.
If not for that, Ruiz would have moved on and fought either Wilder or Tyson Fury. If Joshua loses the rematch, he’s not going to try and fight Ruiz again, because that would wreck his career potentially. As it is, it’s crazy for Joshua to be fighting an immediate rematch with Ruiz, but this is more about money. Joshua is going to make so much money from the rematch due to huge interest in the fight. He’s got the terms heavily in his favor as far as the purse split, so it was financially worth it for Joshua to take the rematch with Ruiz. It might cripple Joshua’s career if he loses, but he’s getting a big payday out of the fight. Sometimes logic goes out the window when money’s involved.
Ruiz wants to beat Joshua again, and then face Wilder or Fury
“Of course, I’ve got to win December 7th the same way,” said Ruiz Jr. “I’ve got the four belts. All I’m missing is the WBC belt, and Deontay Wilder has it. I don’t want to look past Anthony Joshua. I don’t want to underestimate him at all. So I just want to focus on him, get that win, and maybe fight Wilder or [Tyson] Fury. So whatever happens is going to be for a purpose,” said Ruiz.
“For that fight on June 1st, I wanted to gain a little weight. I wanted to be strong, because Anthony Joshua is really big,” said Ruiz. “I wanted to be strong. I wanted to have power. For this fight, I’m going to slim down, and get in much better shape. Plus, we have a longer training camp. For the first fight, we only had a month and a half. for this fight we’re going to have more camp, and more time. So for sure I’m going to be in better shape. I’m going to feel a lot better. So if I’m lighter, of course, I’m going to have more ability, and more speed. I think that’s the plan,” said Ruiz.
“As Anthony Joshua said, it was the punch from the Gods. It was from the power from the Gods,” said Ruiz Jr. about the shot that he hurt Joshua with in round 3. “All the hard work and dedication. Being hungry, and motivated, wanting to win those belts, and wanting to be the first Mexican heavyweight champion, and it came true. Thanks to God. Now I’m here now. I’ve got to do it again on December 7th. That’s what I’m looking forward to,” said Ruiz.
It makes sense for Ruiz to move on and fight the winner of the Tyson Fury vs. Wilder rematch in his next fight. If Ruiz loses to Joshua on December 7, then he’s still in good position to get a third fight with him. Joshua will likely need to defend against one of his two mandatory challengers in Oleksandr Usyk and Kubrat Pulev.
Smith says Joshua looked gassed before Ruiz dropped him in round 3
“Andy, there’s people that look at your fight with Joshua, and recognize your skills, and your hand speed, all of that stuff and the power,” said Smith to Ruiz. “Then you have others that look at Anthony Joshua. There’s two things they said about him. Number one, highly suspect jaw, that’s what they’re saying. Even though I think getting knocked down by [Wladimir] Klitschko years ago, when Max was acting like a little kid.
I never seen Max more excited in a boxing match in my life. When Klitschko dropped him, and he got up, and stopped Klitschko, but then fell down numerous times against you. But I saw in Anthony Joshua that he actually looked gassed before you hurt him. I want to know did you see that or was it just about your punch that took him out?” said Smith to Ruiz.
It’s very clear that Joshua was gassing after he dropped Ruiz in the third. Joshua expended energy in opening up on Ruiz, and that little bit of exertion seemed to turn his muscles to rubber.
Joshua didn’t have Ruiz as hurt as he thought
“I think it was the left hook that I got him,” said Ruiz in talking about hurting Joshua with a left hand in round 3. “He was trying to finish me off. I think the punch that he dropped me, I didn’t see the punch, and I was standing wrong. But he got me with a clear punch, a good punch, that sent me down. But like I said, I wasn’t really hurt. He got me with a right hand when I got dropped.
So, I ate the punch, and I stayed in the pocket, I stayed in the game, and I got him with a clean left hook. That’ when the whole fight changed, and it was on my side. Me being fast and throwing a lot of combinations. I think that’ what helps me out a lot. Everyone underestimates me until they get in the ring, and see the ability that I have in there. Once they get punched, as Mike Tyson once said, “everybody has a plan until they get hit;” that’s exactly what happened,” said Ruiz.