Andy Ruiz Jr — who took on a heavyweight title fight with just five weeks’ notice — sensationally stopped British champion Anthony Joshua in the seventh round in New York on Saturday to record one of boxing’s biggest ever shocks.
Heading into the fight a 30-1 underdog with some bookmakers, Ruiz, 29, becomes the first fighter of Mexican descent to win a heavyweight title.
Not since Buster Douglas beat Mike Tyson in 1990 to claim the undisputed heavyweight title in Tokyo has a result shocked the boxing world so seismically — and few predicted that Ruiz would do the same here against undefeated champion Joshua.
Joshua had started brightly, knocking down the portly figure of Ruiz — who weighed in 9kg heavier than Joshua at 121kg — in the third round.
However, the challenger responded with two knockdowns of his own later in the same round to stun the capacity crowd of 20,201 at Madison Square Garden.
Joshua — boasting a significant height and reach advantage — got back on top in the fifth, but Ruiz regrouped and began to work the champions’ body again in the sixth, sapping Joshua’s energy before landing his decisive blow in the seventh.
Joshua was knocked down a further two times in the seventh round — the second after a flurry of punches — before the referee waved the fight off to hand Ruiz a win by technical knockout.
“This is what I have been dreaming about and I cannot believe I made my dreams come true,” Ruiz said after the fight.
“[The third round knockdown] was my first time getting dropped on the floor but it made me want it even more and I just thank God.
“I have got that Mexican blood in me and that just proved it.”
“I could sense Joshua was hurt but I didn’t want to throw everything at it, I just wanted to work the body and stick to the game plan. Right now, I just want to celebrate and I made history for Mexico. It means everything.”
Joshua, previously undefeated in 22 professional fights, was defending his IBF, WBA and WBO titles, but had been criticised for not chasing a fight with WBC champion Deontay Wilder or lineal world champion Tyson Fury.