'Andy Ruiz Jr., a replacement opponent from the gritty border farming town of Imperial, Calif., pulled off the biggest heavyweight upset of his generation Saturday night, ruining the U.S. debut of England’s three-belt heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua by seventh-round technical knockout.
Ruiz (33-1, 22 knockouts) became the first heavyweight champion of Mexican descent by knocking down Joshua four times — twice each in the third and seventh rounds — to strip away the World Boxing Assn., World Boxing Organization and International Boxing Federation belts from Joshua (22-1).
The victory at Madison Square Garden was nearly as stunning as James “Buster” Douglas’ 1990 knockout of Mike Tyson in Japan.
“I just want to thank God for giving me this victory,” Ruiz said to a standing ovation from the sold-out MSG crowd. “This is what I dreamed about. This is what I’ve been working hard for. I can’t believe I made my dreams come true.”
Joshua was making his American debut and suffered his first loss in 23 fights. Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) claims the WBA, IBF, IBO and WBO heavyweight titles. An automatic rematch triggered by a contractual clause will happen later this year.
“I don’t want anyone to drown in their sorrow,” Joshua said. “It’s about the long-run, not the short run. It just wasn’t my night. Ruiz deserves every bit of fame and fortune he’s about to receive.”