Anthony Joshua was expected to plow through Andy Ruiz Jr at Madison Square Garden and establish himself as the premier boxer on both sides of the pond. Ruiz was expected to go down hard early, but that isn’t what happened. As occurs with top-ranked boxing, things don’t occur as planned. Ruiz won the fight in the seventh round and humiliated Joshua in the process.
Ruiz’s win brought back memories of big world title upsets like Buster Douglas and Mike Tyson. Although Ruiz went into the Madison Square Garden fight as the underdog, and was heavily underestimated by Joshua and his camp, the Mexican showed he is top fighter.
The American-born Mexican battler went into the fight with a 32-1 record. It wasn’t the record of a tomato can and expectations of an upset should have been higher.
But Joshua had blown through all of his previous competition to win the WBA Super, IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight titles. In one fell swoop, he lost them all to Ruiz.
A return match has already been signed with Ruiz now defending his newly won belts against Joshua. The two heavyweights will fight in “either November or December” according to the BBC. A rematch clause was included in the fight contract and Joshua will have the chance to regain his belts. It is difficult to believe Ruiz could shock Joshua once more, especially with the British fighter aiming to prove his loss was a fluke.
Ruiz’s win was made even more incredible – he knocked Joshua to the canvas four times – as he was a late substitution for Joshua’s original opponent. Jarrell Miller was Joshua’s original opponent but his failed drug test meant a replacement had to be found quickly.
Joshua’s reputation and money potential were hurt with the loss to Ruiz. Although he wants to face off against heavyweights such as Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, it is difficult to believe a fight against either could draw as well now.
Ruiz was somewhere between a 10/1 and 20/1 underdog to beat Joshua in the first match, according to Forbes. Ruiz is unlikely to be such a long shot for the rematch. One sportsbook reportedly listed Ruiz as 11/4 to win a rematch against Joshua. Meanwhile, Joshua was listed as a heavy favourite at –350.
According to BetOnline’s Dave Mason speaking to Forbes, he believes a lot of fans will wager on Ruiz in the rematch with the expectation he will win once more. However, professional bettors will back Joshua to get the best of Ruiz a second time around.
Despite losing to Ruiz, Joshua still made a reported $25 million for the fight. Ruiz not only went home with Joshua’s belts, but $7m richer. He could earn far more in the rematch.
Joshua nor Ruiz will fight again until their rematch. The combination of needing time to prepare and neither wanting to damage the marketability of the rematch will keep them out of the ring.
The rematch should be just as exciting as the first and it may prove once more than there are no sure things in boxing.