Andy Ruiz Jr. will get a shot at three of the four major heavyweight boxing championships on June 1, when he steps into the ring against Anthony Joshua at Madison Square Garden.
Ruiz took the fight on short notice after the original challenger, Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, was suspended by the WBA for failing multiple drug tests in the lead up to the bout.
Ruiz Looks to Become First Mexican Heavyweight Champ
After that fight was postponed, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn quickly looked for a replacement, and Ruiz said he was happy to take the challenge.
“I’m really excited for this fight,” Ruiz said when the new matchup was announced. “There’s nervousness in me, but they’re happy nerves. This is my chance to make history.”
Ruiz (32-1, 21 KOs) has the opportunity to become the first Mexican heavyweight champion in history. He nearly pulled off that feat in 2016, when he suffered the only loss of his career: a majority decision defeat to Joseph Parker in a WBO heavyweight championship bout. While Ruiz may not have gotten the nod from the judges on that night, there were many observers who felt that he did enough to win the fight, making him an intriguing challenger for Joshua.
During Monday’s announcement, Hearn said that it had been “tricky” to find a suitable opponent for Joshua, but that he believed Ruiz was capable of giving the champion a challenge.
“Andy Ruiz will come to win,” Hearn told reporters. “He doesn’t look physically pleasing, but he can really fight. He’s Mexican, he can punch, he has fast hands, and he knows how to fight.”
Joshua Heavily Favored Despite New Opponent
Of course, beating Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) would be an enormous challenge for any fighter. One of the three boxers – alongside Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury – who can lay claim to at least some portion of a legitimate world championship claim, Joshua will be making his American debut in June, and the British fighter has no intention of disappointing his fans across the pond.
“Ruiz is a different kind of challenge, but one I embrace,” Joshua said of his new opponent. “We have worked in the boxing gym week on week, and whomever is put in front of me at Madison Square Garden on June 1 will be dispatched in style.”
Ruiz will face a significant size disadvantage, as Joshua is four inches taller than he is. But the Mexican believes there are ways he can use that disparity to his advantage.
“Being so tall, he fights like a big robot,” Ruiz said. “With my style, my speed, my movement, I don’t think he’s fought anybody like me. I don’t think he’s good going back.”
While the sentiment is a good one, oddsmakers aren’t buying that Ruiz will pose many problems for the champion. At the FanDuel Sportsbook, Joshua has opened as a massive -4000 favorite, while Ruiz is being offered at +1200 to claim the heavyweight championship.