Boxing’s heavyweight division has enjoyed a bit of a resurgence in popularity over the last few years, after a period where it took a backseat to other weight classes thanks to the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. That is due to Anthony Joshua beating Wladimir Klitschko in 2016 to unify the heavyweight titles.
But Joshua hasn’t had an easy go of it since winning the unified championship against Klitschko. He lost the belts to Andy Ruiz Jr. last June, but Ruiz didn’t do as well in the rematch six months later.
Andy Ruiz Jr. vs. Anthony Joshua I
Joshua was scheduled to defend against undefeated Jarrell Miller on June 1, 2019, but Miller tested positive for a banned substance in April and was denied a boxing license by the New York State Athletic Commission, which caused Joshua to find a new opponent.
Several fighters showed interest, but Ruiz got the nod. The new fight was confirmed on May 1, just a month before the match at Madison Square Garden. The fight got off to a slow start in the first two rounds, but things picked up in the third round when Joshua knocked down Ruiz, who quickly got up and went back on the attack — seemingly unfazed by Joshua’s blow.
Ruiz then got a couple of knockdowns in the round, but the match went on. Ruiz got Joshua on the mat twice in the seventh round, with the round’s second knockdown being the final one, as the ref waved off the fight for a seventh-round TKO for Ruiz, the new champ.
Andy Ruiz’s questionable work ethic
Ruiz became a celebrity after becoming the first heavyweight champion of Mexican descent. On the first anniversary of his upset win, ESPN profiled Ruiz and revealed that the champ had a poor work ethic after the fight.
Former trainer Manny Robles recalls that Ruiz was slated to take a month off, then return to the gym to start training for the rematch. Instead, he took three months off. Robles says to ESPN “he just quit and checked out.” According to Robles, after Ruiz beat Joshua he “didn’t have the same fighter.”
When Robles realized Ruiz wasn’t serious about training, the trainer moved the camp to Mexico City, giving Ruiz distance from his family and “his new friends.”But that didn’t improve Ruiz’s training. Nothing helped, according to Robles, who said to ESPN he was trying to get Ruiz “to look at the bigger picture.” Robles even tried to entice Ruiz by talking about money — to no avail. And it showed in the rematch.
Ruiz vs. Joshua II
The rematch took place in Saudi Arabia on Dec. 7, 2019, with Ruiz weighing 283 pounds, 15 pounds heavier than the first fight six months earlier. With the added weight, which all seemed to be in his stomach, he was never a real threat against the challenger.
Ruiz made it through all 12 rounds, but Joshua dominated him and regained his former belts in a lopsided unanimous decision. The British judge scored it 119-109 for Joshua, while the judges from the U.S. and Canada each gave Joshua a 118-110 victory.
After the defeat, Ruiz admitted he wasn’t ready for the fight. Ruiz added that if there’s a third battle between them, he’ll be in the best shape of his life for it.
Joshua, meanwhile, credited his win to not changing his mentality after the loss. Saying he is humble in defeat and stays humble in victory.