Andy Ruiz Jr. knocked out Anthony Joshua in the seventh round on Saturday night to capture three of the major heavyweight championships in one of the biggest upsets in recent boxing history.
Ruiz knocked down Joshua twice in the seventh round at Madison Square Garden before referee Michael Griffin stopped the fight, giving the Mexican-American fighter the win.
Ruiz Takes Over After Early Knockdown
Ruiz became the first boxer of Mexican descent to win a major heavyweight title by capturing the IBF, WBO, and WBA titles.
“I just want to thank God for giving me this victory,” Ruiz said after the fight. “This is what I have been dreaming about. This is what I have been working hard for, and I can’t believe I just made my dreams come true.”
Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) looked to be in trouble early in the fight, getting knocked down for the first time in his career in the third round. But he rallied back, knocking down Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) twice later in the third to complete what might go down as the round of the year in boxing.
Both fighters then showed signs of fatigue after the big shots they took in the third. But while Joshua never quite recovered, Ruiz was able to continue pressuring the champion.
After the second knockdown in the seventh round, Joshua appeared to be slow to respond to Griffin’s commands, which led the referee to call off the fight, starting a jubilant celebration from Ruiz.
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“There’s no excuses. It’s my own fault. I got caught with a big shot,” Joshua told reporters afterwards. “I would have preferred it to be Deontay Wilder, do you know what I mean? But it wasn’t. It was Andy Ruiz, and he deserves it, and the fame and fortune he’s about to receive.”
Rematch All But Assured Later This Year
Ruiz came into the fight as a massive underdog, with sportsbooks offering odds of around +1200 on the challenger. Even for casual fans, simply looking at the fighters seemed to tell the story: Joshua is extremely fit and lean, while Ruiz is seemingly overweight, not cutting the image of a world champion.
But Ruiz showed that he has the power to take down anyone in the heavyweight division, including the fighter who many thought was the true champion.
That doesn’t mean that Joshua is out of the title picture. As the clear A-side in the fight, Joshua made sure that the fight included an automatic rematch clause if he were to lose, and both fighters were already talking about setting up a second bout in the fall – likely in the UK, where Joshua is a massive superstar.
But even a win in a rematch may not make Joshua the top name in the heavyweight division again. On Friday, WBC champion Deontay Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs) announced that he will fight a rematch against lineal champion Tyson Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs), assuming Wilder can first win a rematch against Luis Ortiz (31-1, 26 KOs) this fall.
Wilder and Fury each have a legitimate piece of the heavyweight world title, and fought to a tight draw last December. That could set up the winner of their rematch to face the winner of the presumed Joshua vs. Ruiz rematch for a heavyweight unification bout, in a division that suddenly seems filled with stars who have a legitimate chance of emerging as the undisputed champion sometime in the next year.