With a shocking win over one of the top fighters on the planet, Andy Ruiz Jr. now is the WBA Super, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight champion, the first ever of Mexican descent.
“I wanted to prove everybody wrong,” Ruiz said of being motivated by his doubters entering Saturday’s main event against former unified champion Anthony Joshua at Madison Square Garden.
The heavyweight division experienced a major shake-up in the third round at the sold-out Garden in front of a crowd of an announced 20,201. When Joshua dropped Ruiz, the champion appeared on his way to handing the challenger his second professional loss.
“That was my first time on the canvas," Ruiz said. "I had to get him back.”
But Ruiz, who was filling in for original opponent Jarrell Miller after Brooklyn’s "Big Baby" failed multiple drug tests, got off the canvas after being floored by a thunderous left. He responded by sending Joshua to the canvas twice in the same round — and twice more later in the contest — before the fight was stopped in Round 7.
Ruiz said he capitalized on weaknesses he saw in Joshua previously.
“I thought he opened up too much where I could counter him,” said the new champion, a Mexican-American from Southern California. Still in disbelief shortly after his incredible victory, he added, “I’m the first Mexican heavyweight champion of the world.”
Joshua, the dethroned former champion, left without speaking at the post-fight news conference. Fighting in the same city two weeks after WBC champion Deontay Wilder, Joshua’s performance in Manhattan was to be compared to that of Wilder’s first-round dismantling of Dominic Breazeale at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. But Ruiz now holds all of his former titles, and Joshua is now 0-1 in fights in New York City. It is expected the Brit will exercise his rematch clause and look to regain his titles.