Andy Ruiz, Jr. and the Art of Upsets

By Marc Livitz on June 6, 2019
Andy Ruiz, Jr. and the Art of Upsets
Last Saturday could easily prove to be his one sterling moment in the ring. (Getty Images)

Eagerly sitting ringside that afternoon in the Tokyo Dome was Evander Holyfield, who was all set to face Mike Tyson later that summer in Atlantic City…

As many of us can attest, a Snickers bar can go a long way in temporarily relieving hunger and while it’s not the best option in terms of nutrition, it gets the job done. Perhaps the only instance where the chocolate and peanut treat can disappoint is when we’ve had one too many within a window of time or when the delicious coating has melted. We were certain about Anthony Joshua a week ago but since then, something big has melted. Newly crowned heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz, Jr. will hopefully avoid the pitfalls and trappings which are heaped upon those who are catapulted from sacrificial lamb to heroic conqueror in a very short period of time. In the case of “The Destroyer” Ruiz, the ascendance from the former to the latter took less than one hour to accomplish last Saturday evening at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. The Imperial, California native has undoubtedly been bombarded with interview requests, new friends across the social media spectrum and the usual flock who remind him that they were in his corner when he effectively had nothing to his name. What will former heavyweight kingpin Anthony Joshua do from here? Will the man from Watford find luck akin to that of one of the greatest heavyweight champions of our era, Lennox Lewis? Although he’s been retired for over 15 years, the Englishman’s name has been thrown around over the last several days due to the amount of shock produced from mouths agape to bad nights for sports gambling outfits.

The two losses in Lennox’s career were big upsets in and of themselves back in 1994 and 2001 against Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman, respectively. Of course, each loss was avenged in savage fashion before he officially called it a day in early 2004. It’s likely that for each unexpected defeat, both bettors and bookies did a fair amount of binge and purge, although the house eventually finds a way to make its money back. The disdain thrown around the sports world, especially from the Monday morning cretins of network variety programs centers almost exclusively on the physique of Andy Ruiz and how he ruined a high profile showdown between Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder. Let’s not kid ourselves. If the Joshua who showed up at “The World’s Most Famous Arena” on Saturday night instead found “The Bronze Bomber” in the opposite corner as opposed to Ruiz, then we’d be up in arms about the amount of money we’d wasted on fight tickets, plane tickets, hotel rooms and pay TV fees. Why? We all know why. Had Anthony Joshua stood as straight up as a cue stick in the same fashion he did against Ruiz, then the staff in charge of breaking down the ring within the arena could have easily felt best to leave him pasted upon the apron.

This isn’t the first time a shock result caused a highly anticipated championship showdown to be thrown into the scrap heap. Rarely is it permanent. Of course, the biggest upset (or one of the biggest) in the history of our fair sport took place in February of 1990. That’s a flashbulb moment for many of us. We remember where we were, what we were doing and maybe who we were with that night a 42-1 long shot turned the tables on a seemingly unbeatable champion. That one night (or day in Tokyo) turned out to be his crowning achievement and the pinnacle of his fighting career because as we know, he was never the same afterwards. Eagerly sitting ringside that afternoon in the Tokyo Dome was Evander Holyfield, who was all set to face Mike Tyson later that summer in Atlantic City. James “Buster” Douglas was the reason it was put off until November of 1991, although we’d all have to wait until late 1996 to finally see it happen. “Iron” Mike suffered a rib injury in training in 1991 and was then subjected to punishment from the state of Indiana for certain indiscretions. That can be left at that.

Did Manny Pacquiao’s back-to-back losses in 2012 to Tim Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez spell ultimate doom for a showdown with Floyd Mayweather, Jr.? Maybe, but we still eventually got it and shame on all of us for buying into it. The point may be just this. Why do so many feel the need to blame the ‘B’ side of a promotion for ruining a potential powerhouse bout when promotional outfits do it to us all the time? Remember boxing’s most recent “Cold War”? There’s still traces of it. Do we think former multi-division champion Mikey Garcia will ever face fellow pound-for-pound juggernaut Vasyl Lomachenko for supremacy within the lightweight ranks?

So, there’s easily enough frustration that can be rightfully thrown in the direction of the behind-the-scene individuals who are not fighters, yet decide where the pieces fall. Someone like Andy Ruiz, Jr. should be saluted, not mocked or ridiculed. Sure, last Saturday could easily prove to be his one sterling moment in the ring, yet it also put fans across the globe on high alert. Maybe Anthony Joshua lost interest when he crossed the Atlantic. He overlooked his opponent and instead had his sight sets on a pot of gold to be shared with a certain champion from Alabama. It’s life. It’s boxing. It happens. 

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  1. Your Name 12:30pm, 06/06/2019

    Joshua was and is just a well marketed fluke fighting old soviet grandmas, cowardly kiwis, no skills at all Jamaicans and really late replacement Takam. There are a zillion of English fools to make money.