Andrés Ponce Ruiz Jr., a late replacement, scored one of the biggest upsets in modern heavyweight boxing history on Saturday in New York City.
Spoiling the US debut of unified heavyweight champion and UK 2012 Olympic gold medalist Anthony Joshua, underdog Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) scored four knockdowns and recorded a huge upset via a seventh-round TKO at Madison Square Garden.
“I just want to thank God for giving me this victory. Without him this wouldn't have been possible,” Ruiz said.
“This is what I have been dreaming about. This is what I have been working hard for, and I can't believe I just made my dreams come true.”
Defying the bookies, Ruiz showed tremendous poise, power and fearlessness in systematically dismantling Joshua, the sport's biggest star globally.
Daaamn, did Andy Ruiz really just expose Anthony Joshua at MADISON SQUARE GARDEN 💀😳— AJ ひ (@ahmedJ_23) June 2, 2019
Love an underdog story 🙌 pic.twitter.com/QTK6u9Ugcm
The 29-year-old Joshua was never quite able to recover from two knockdowns in Round 3 that took place shortly after he dropped Ruiz for the first time in the American's career.
“That was my first time getting dropped on the floor,” Ruiz said.
“But you know what, it just made me stronger and made me want it even more. I just had to knock him down back.”
From then on, Ruiz never backed down.
Andy Ruiz Knocks Down Anthony Joshua in Round 2 pic.twitter.com/gLVoKtnnzd— He’s Hurt! (@CageSideCam) June 2, 2019
Before a sold-out crowd, two knockdowns later in Round 7 referee Michael Griffin jumped in at 1:27 to wave the fight off.
Ruiz leapt around the ring in wild celebration before a stunned crowd, which was largely in favour of Joshua.
“Big respect to Andy, big big respect,” Joshua said later.
“[He's a] good fighter. Thank you America. Thank you everyone for coming out this evening. Sorry I let my friends down, sorry I let my supporters down.”
“There's no excuses. It's my own fault. I got caught with a big shot,” Joshua said.
“Congratulations to him. I would have preferred it to be Deontay Wilder, do you know what I mean? But it wasn't. It was Andy Ruiz, and he deserves it, and the fame and fortune he's about to receive.”
“I don't want anyone to kind of drown in their sorrows. This is boxing. It's all the same. It just wasn't my night. It was Andy Ruiz's night. You know what? It's good for the TV. It's good for DAZN. It gets people watching.”
“Of course, man,” Ruiz said, adding “right now I just want to celebrate. I just made history, baby, for Mexico! It means everything, man. This is what I've been dreaming about since I was 6 years old”.
“We'll make the rematch in the UK, November or December,” Joshua added.
Andy Ruiz Jr. had put his name forward to replace Jarrell Miller and challenge and Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) for the unified WBA/WBO/IBF/IBO heavyweight titles on 1 June 2019, after Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller was denied a license by the New York Athletic Commission upon failing three different tests for PEDs.
Ruiz, a 29-year-old southern California native who signed with Premier Boxing Champions in April, became the first boxer of Mexican descent to win a heavyweight title.
According to experts, the division’s upset was arguably the biggest since Hasim Rahman stopped Lennox Lewis in 2001.