Two weeks ago, American Deontay Wilder, the World Boxing Council heavyweight champion, promised fans that a title unification fight with Britain’s Anthony Joshua would definitely happen, as The Inquisitr reported. This came after several years of accusations that Wilder was ducking Joshua. Now, that promise may be unnecessary. In the most stunning heavyweight upset in nearly two decades, 29-year-old Joshua lost the first fight of his career — and all of his championship belts — to unheralded American Andy Ruiz Jr. at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.
Ruiz, whose record now stands at 33-1 with 22 knockouts, was expected to serve as an easy victim for Joshua, in the British fighter’s introduction to U.S. fight fans, with his first bout on America soil. Ruiz Jr., a 29-year-old from Imperial, California, becomes the first heavyweight of Mexican descent to win a championship. He was a late replacement after Joshua’s scheduled opponent, Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, failed three separate tests for performance-enhancing drugs, according to ESPN.
Joshua floored Ruiz for the first time in the American’s career in the third round, and Ruiz responded with a series of flurries that sent Joshua to the canvas four times. The previously undefeated British fighter then turned his back on his opponent in the seventh round, and referee Michael Griffin then stopped the fight as Joshua stopped in his corner, as The Guardian reported.
Andy Ruiz Jr. took Anthony Joshua's heavyweight championship ????
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 2, 2019
Ruiz’s victory marked the most stunning upset in a heavyweight title fight at least since 2001 when Hasim Rahman stopped then-champion Lennox Lewis, as CBS Sports reported. Another major upset happened in 1990 when Buster Douglas knocked out the previously undefeated Mike Tyson.
Joshua’s U.S. debut was designed to put him on course for a major pay-per-view fight with Wilder, who cored a stunning, one-punch, first-round knockout of Dominic Breazeale on May 18, as The Inquisitr reported. That win cranked demand for a Joshua vs. Wilder fight up to a fever pitch.
But to rekindle interest in a Wilder fight, Joshua will need to score a definitive or even spectacular KO of Ruiz in their contractually required rematch, which will take place in November or December of this year at a venue in the United Kingdom, according to a Mirror report.
Wilder himself had some choice words for Joshua after Saturday’s fight ended in shocking fashion, taking to his Twitter account where he declared that Joshua “wasn’t a true champion.”
He wasn’t a true champion. His whole career was consisted of lies, contradictions and gifts.
Facts and now we know who was running from who!!!!#TilThisDay
— Deontay Wilder (@BronzeBomber) June 2, 2019
Also on Saturday, Wilder said that his rematch with a different British fighter, Tyson Fury, was “officially on,” and that “all contracts have been signed already,” according to a BBC report. The pair fought to a controversial draw on December 1, 2018, the only blemish on the undefeated records of both fighters.