IMPERIAL — Imperial Valley native Andy Ruiz Jr. shocked the world while representing his home-town and Mexican-American heritage in epic fashion Saturday, June 1, at Madison Square Garden in New York City where the “Destroyer” upset Anthony Joshua to become the first heavyweight champion of Mexican descent in boxing history.
After a nationally televised five-round stoppage of Alexander Dimitrenko in May of this year, Ruiz appeared at Sparta Boxing in El Centro for a sparring session and the announcement of a potential short-notice fight against Joshua who was scheduled to fight Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller June 1. Miller failed a drug test in April which caused the last-minute shuffling of opponents for the June 1 date.
When the betting line opened for the fight, Ruiz was a 10/1 underdog in many sports books and casinos, making his victory over Joshua arguably one of biggest upsets in boxing heavyweight history since Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson in 1990. Douglas had been said to have been a 42/1 underdog.
The fight versus Ruiz was Joshua’s U.S. debut where fast hands and big hits defined the instant classic.
After two rounds of measuring, Joshua found his mark one minute into the third round on a left hook to the button which dropped Ruiz. Smelling blood in the water, Joshua blitzed Ruiz when Ruiz connected a counter right hook to exchange knockdowns. Right before the end of the third round, Ruiz dealt out two left hooks which floored Joshua for the second time in the round. The bell prevented any more damage as it rang right after Joshua recovered from an eight-count.
The action picked up again early in the seventh round when Ruiz overwhelmed Joshua with a barrage of punches and combos sending Joshua to the canvas for the third time in the contest. As Joshua stood up, Ruiz barreled back in with a left-right, two-punch combo that landed on the temple which caused Joshua to take a knee after a delayed reaction to the headshots.
Strangely, after a standing eight-count, Joshua appeared to give the okay that he was ready to continue, but referee Mike Griffin waved a stoppage after Joshua did not step forward from the corner or take his gloves off the ropes.
“This is what I’ve been dreaming about. This is what I’ve been working hard for, and I can’t believe I just made my dreams come true,” said Ruiz after the fight. “Sky is the limit, baby.”
Judge’s score cards after six rounds: Pasquale Procopio (Joshua) 57–56, Michael Alexander and Julie Lederman (Ruiz) 57–56.
“Because of the Mexican warrior that I am, I’ve got that Mexican blood in me, so talking about the Mexican style, I just proved it,” replied Ruiz when questioned about when he realized he could take Joshua’s power.
There is a rematch clause in the contract. After the fight, Ruiz was asked about a second fight opportunity replied. “Of course,” he said.
“[Becoming the first Mexican American heavyweight champion] means everything,” said Ruiz. “This is what I’ve been training for since I was six years old. If it wasn’t for my dad, I wouldn’t be here.”