Anthony Joshua was The Colossus of the modern heavyweight division. Like Hercules when The Son of Zeus cleaned out the stables of King Augean and then killed him when he welched on their agreement, Joshua in this case cleaned out the nefarious Al Haymon stables of undefeated heavies, easily knocking them out of his unified title picture and otherwise exposing them badly, yet somehow, in some inexplicably perplexing way, he became terribly unraveled by Fatboy Andy Ruiz Jr this last Saturday in Joshua’s American Debut at Madison Square Garden.
And it was more than just blunt force trauma as is typical in these situations although there was plenty of blunt force trauma on display between the combatants, the 3rd round being perhaps Ring Round of the Year.
After that third round in which Andy got dropped first followed by two knockdowns of Joshua, the stage was set in later rounds with perhaps this shot instructive as Joshua is awfully low like his legs can barely support him, and indeed it seemed like he never gained full use of his legs and was often left punching flat footed out of position where he had little leverage on his formidable power.
Anthony Joshua was 22-0, 21 KO that included a unified title record of 7-0, 6 KO going into the Ruiz fight at age 29. Simply put, there is no heavyweight with a better record before winning the title since the turn of the 19th Century when in 1892 James J. Corbett with an 8-0-2 record knocked out John L. Sullivan. James J. Jeffries set the 20th Century record, 10-0-2, when he knocked out Bob Fitzsimmons in 1901. Corbett made 2 successful title defenses before succumbing to Fitz, and Jeffries made 6 defenses before retiring undefeated.
The modern day record Joshua holds: He has set the 21st Century heavyweight record, 15-0 when he won his title that he carefully unified along with 6 title defenses, so what could go so wrong for this modern day wunderkind seemingly sculpted out of bronze striding atop his Mount Olympus of solid gold?
Being naturally possessed of a predatory mind that fortunately I was able to get a handle on early in life thanks to my mom’s heroic efforts at civilizing me, I saw some alarming things in the lead up. The first being this amiable, happy go lucky lad has been making outsized riches and accolades beyond the pale of mortality as any proper Greek God might, so much so that his very creation was the impetus of the DAZN combine that put together the #1 subscription streaming boxing network in the world in short order.
Disclaimer: I subscribe to DAZN and have enjoyed it immensely and witnessed THE FIGHT.
Any investor(s) worth their salt want to maximize their investments with that being of going global by starting in America. They have completely wrecked the traditional broadcasting and PPV format by signing big stars like Canelo Alvarez for HUGE $$$. Thus they pushed for Joshua to make his American debut so they could further expand their foothold on the American market they started, Coming to America as it were
Now Joshua has probably cleared at least $100 Mil in his 22 fights previous and has set records by selling out Wembley Stadium with over 90,000 fans screaming like banshees at his every concussive blow. Only one fighter had ever gone the distance with him. Specifically, why make his US debut at Madison Square Garden, home of probably worst boxing commish in the US, that being New York? Most American champions stayed home within their own culture and made any foreign heavy contenders come to them.
Joshua is more than a record setting boxer, he’s a highly intelligent guy in love with boxing and it’s history, and at one time MSG was the place to go until Vegas cleaned their clock decades back. Joshua went to a lot of trouble to fly into the dangerous environs of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil just to support UK boxing during the 2016 Olympics. He supports all the local boxing programs and does his fair share of charity work that has made him into such a native boxing icon that has never been seen on British shores before.
Getting back to the fight, I felt something Rotten in Denmark during the opening two rounds as Josh looked puzzled at Ruiz slowly pressing him without throwing much. Just stick a jab with a lateral step and slowly work out your timing as you set up your traps, easy for Josh, but not on this Saturday. In his ring walk the golden boy was slapping all extended hands in a glow of accolades. Nobody extended hands or Ruiz to slap, so already Ruiz is majorly focused on that ring instead of lollygagging around. I also spotted Sam Watson, Haymon’s main man with Team Ruiz when Bob Arum has been his promoter, like forever. Now, that ain’t right!
Here he is in the prefight with the Ruiz team listening to the Mexican anthem with Sam:
This is just seconds after the fight was stopped. Ruiz team in the ring on top of him in celebration with Sam collaring the ref who hasn’t even had time to consult with officials yet, now that ain’t right!
Two officials have crawled through the ropes in Josh’s corner where he was stopped still in the same position. The officials haven’t even time to straighten up. Josh team outside the ropes, so what are they doing? Where’s his trainer, Robert McCracken. Had I a fighter I poured my blood and sweat into I’d be in the ring so fast someone might get knocked over if they were in the way.
In the post fight presser with Josh absent in the hospital for evaluation, Ruiz thanks his team and Al Haymon for this opportunity, so when did the changeover from Arum to Haymon happen and where was an announcement of a new contract? Was it buried in the media blitz? Three days after the fight, Boxrec updated their promoter/manager info showing Arum seemingly ending his contract with Ruiz in 2018 and Haymon his manager. McCracken absent at the presser and no mention of him. Was he at the hospital with Joshua? Will he even be with him for the rematch this November or December, probably at Wembley. Might be too late for a new trainer with the rematch coming in November, but like I say, the Josh was just off the whole night like he was fighting on Mike Tyson’s psych meds underwater.
Both mentally and physically Josh finally looked dialed into his timing during that 3rd round when he caught Ruiz with that left hook that put him down for the first time in his career. Then upon a return to action he caught Ruiz with a full on flush straight right that would’ve finished any of Haymon’s heavies, save Ruiz. Normally Josh would return to careful boxing to look for the next big shot. He’s already near guaranteed a decision in a distance fight, but instead got greedy for a quick KO and got clocked and then clocked again. He sorta skeeters around for round 4 and 5 until the 6th starts as Ruiz is starting to bully him before the ill fated 7th.
In short, there is just too much monkey biz with this fight as I laid out. He has to take the loss and move on because these suits these days or a lot more clever than in the past.
Also hearing how Josh’s father had to be pulled off Fast Eddie in the dressing room after the fight and various rumors that Josh had been knocked out during a sparring session.
It wasn’t until many years later that all the monkeyshines surrounding that upset in Zaire by Muhammad Ali over George Foreman came out that cast a pall over that epic fight. Controversial calls are part and parcel of every sport, but no sport comes close to the weekly controversies and poor officiating than boxing. For now the fight is not controversial, but many if most felt from the first round something wasn’t quite right as the highly lucrative rematch looms.