Think Andy Ruiz Jr.’s victory over Anthony Joshua was a fluke? You may not have to wait long to find out.
The new heavyweight champion and the previously undefeated Brit he stunningly knocked out are set for a rematch later this year. That’s according to Joshua’s promoter, who said on Twitter that his fighter’s team triggered a rematch clause in the contract for the first bout.
Ruiz-Joshua 2 will take place in November or December at “a venue to be confirmed shortly,” the promoter, Eddie Hearn, wrote.
Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) had indicated he wanted the rematch while offering brief comments in an interview immediately after the fight, which ended on a technical knockout in the seventh round Saturday at Madison Square Garden. The result was quickly hailed as one of the most shocking upsets in boxing history, particularly given that the unheralded Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) was a late substitute for Joshua’s original opponent.
Adding to the sense of improbability was the sharp contrast from Joshua’s chiseled physique to the decidedly flabby appearance of his foe, who stood four inches shorter but weighed in 20 pounds heavier.
It remains to be seen what kind of shape Ruiz is in for the rematch, assuming it happens — his camp has yet to confirm that it is on board, and Hearn’s tweet is hardly a guarantee that the fight will happen — but he said at a postfight news conference that he wanted to “get in really good shape and look like a Mexican Anthony next time we fight.”
“I just shocked the world,” added Ruiz, who took Joshua’s WBA, WBO and IBF titles. “Now I’ve got to work even harder and make a legacy. I’m not going to let these belts go.”
The other major heavyweight title, sanctioned by the WBC, is held by American Deontay Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs). Joshua’s loss took some of the luster off a highly anticipated showdown with Wilder, which could still happen in late 2020, but might not at all if Ruiz wins again.
Before then, Wilder is expected to have a rematch with another British heavyweight, Tyson Fury, after the two fought to a draw in December. Next up for Wilder is a rematch with Luis Ortiz, who suffered a 10th-round knockout to Wilder in March 2018.
Ruiz’s win may have thrown something of a wrench into Wilder-Joshua, but the upset sprung by the affable 29-year-old created international headlines and shone a spotlight on the heavyweight division. In that sense, Joshua’s loss could be the sport’s gain, particularly if the rematch proves to be a compelling battle.
Hearn said shortly after the fight Saturday that the expected rematch probably would be held in the United Kingdom, where all of Joshua’s bouts had taken place before he made his U.S. debut at MSG.
“He’s got to win it. It’s a massive pressure fight. It’s all or nothing,” Hearn said of Joshua. He described the result as “just a shocker, one of the big heavyweight upsets of all-time."
“It’s a minor setback, if that’s what you want to call it,” Joshua, 29, said Saturday of his loss (via ESPN). “I feel like this is just part of the journey I’m on, and this is boxing, so what I have to do is evaluate the situation, make it better and we go again."
"I’ll bounce back and get my hands on those belts again. … I’m going to beat him up,” he added. “Tidy up, brush off the cobwebs, and fight again.”