Madison Square Garden, New York City)—Before a sold-out and frenzied New York City/Madison Square Garden crowd of 20,201, the big Saturday night fight that Joshua’s followers were witnessing turned from high confidence to extreme concern and then finally to total disbelief, as Ruiz upset the champion when referee, Mike Griffin, stopped the contest at (1:27) of the seventh round, resulting in an official TKO. The fight was viewed on “Live Stream” by millions at their favorite landing spot on DAZN, the newest competitor in bringing Pro boxing to fight fans all over the world, for no more than a reasonable subscription price. And, for the segment of our East L.A. Sports Scene followers and boxing fan-base made up of those born with “Sangre Mexicana” (Mexican Blood), be they self-identified as Chicanos, Mexican-Americans, or Méxicanos, we bring you our account on this historic blockbuster of a “Prize Fight.” Note From the Editor: See Andy Ruiz’s Instagram posts at the end of write-up.
Opening Thought: On the night of June 1, 2019, a new, and absolutely real “Life” Super Hero was created. He appeared as a professional heavyweight boxer, and in the person of Imperial, California’s very own, 29 year old, Andy “The Destroyer” Ruiz, Jr., with an outstanding pro record of (33-1, 22 KOs). The American born prize fighter, a replacement opponent, was about to face the biggest battle of his adult life when he was announced to the boxing world as the challenger to the current and undefeated, reigning champion from England, Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs), on the world’s biggest sports media stage, Madison Square Garden, the Mecca of boxing.
Fight Recap: After the pre-fight build up, the boxers parade into the ring, and all of the required introductions, the bell sounded for round 1 and the two fighters came to the center of the ring to begin their quests to win. After the first two “feeling-out” rounds were over, it was time to “put on a show” for the action-starved heavyweight followers in attendance, as well as for the global viewing audience. And yes, both men delivered big time. At (2:17) into the third round, after a good exchange, Joshua found Ruiz’s jaw with a sharp right uppercut, followed up by a hard, clean left hook to the head, and down he went, absorbing his first career knockdown in the process. But Ruiz quickly recovered after the eight count, and then, to the “shock and awe” of the highly partisan Joshua crowd, he unloaded with a powerful left hook of his own, followed by a vicious clubbing right hand to the temple, and down went Joshua with (1:47) left in the round. At this point, the trade-off in knockdown blows was now even. But Ruiz’s corner knew there was still much time left in the round and urged their fighter to swarm Joshua, and much to the astonishment of the crowd, he pummeled Joshua at will, into the second knockdown of his career. This came came at the (:15) second mark in the round. After the mandatory eight count, Joshua was on his feet but appeared to be in a fog. The champion slowly staggered to his corner after the round ended, thus classically being saved by the bell. After the pro-British crowd watched their favorite get battered, staggered, and dropped twice in the round, the hushed crowd in the Garden suddenly saw the tide slowly, yet dramatically changing in favor of Ruiz. Rounds four, five, and six were offensive and defensive probing rounds for both fighters with not much exchanging or excitement generated for the buzzed crowd.
Going into the seventh round, commentators had scored the fight (58-57) in favor of Ruiz. The boxers still showed much respect for each other, but Ruiz began aggressively landing combinations, succeeding with flurries, strong enough to bother Joshua. Then at the (2:26) minute mark, Ruiz caught Joshua with a well set-up hard right cross, followed by twelve unanswered blows to the head and body which brought Joshua down. Ruiz was credited by the judges with his third knockdown. After another standing eight count, the referee approved Joshua to continue, only to be met by a resurgence of staccato-like hard shots from Ruiz, causing Joshua to lose his mouthpiece in the ring. This resulted in his fourth knockdown of the champion at the (1:57) mark. Once in the corner, Referee Griffin asked Joshua to follow his commands, and at first glance it appeared that Joshua had complied. However, Griffin was not convinced and stepped in to stop the contest at (1:33), resulting in the recording of Joshua’s first defeat. At that moment, a triumphant Ruiz was seen jumping up and down jubilantly in the ring with his Team Ruiz handlers. And so it would end with the ring announcer blaring the decision out to all….”And the new Heavyweight Champion of the World—–Andy “The Destroyer” Ruiz, Jr.“
Of Significance: On this night of a gi-normous upset, Ruiz, the (11-1) underdog, left the ring with all four unified title belts of the WBA,WBO, IBF, and IBO respectively. In addition, the record books will reflect that he is now the first heavyweight champion of Mexican descent. Now that history has been made, the beat goes on and there will be an automatic rematch as was built into the contract by Joshua’s management team. It may take place later this year in November or December. But right now, as the fallen champion Joshua himself graciously said in his post-fight interview, “Let Andy enjoy his victory. It’s his time now!”
Final Thoughts: The world has always loved the winning underdog and this was no different. Hailing from the city of Imperial, located in the Imperial Valley’s rich agricultural sector of California, Ruiz would be the first to tell you that he learned many life skills in his father’s labor contracting business as a teenager. But, he also loved the sport of boxing and managed to stay focused in the sport as he carved out his life’s dream of becoming a pro fighter. He strongly believes in this expression, author unknown—“Don’t Wait For Sleep To Dream.” In a strong parallel to that, here is his post-fight comment, “This is what I have been dreaming about. This is what I have been working hard for. I can’t believe I just made my dreams come true.” He also said, he was victorious “because of the Mexican blood in me”, which in context, parallels the same cultural identity for millions of new fans and proud paisanos on both sides of the border, captured by his tremendous courage and boxing abilities.
No matter what generational era you belong to…Baby Boomer, XGen, Millenial…, in the sports world whenever an athlete reaches the pinnacle of success in his/her sport, it never fails to immediately capture the interest of his/her fan-base, it just goes without saying. Given that, here comes Andy Ruiz, Jr. and overnight the underdog becomes the new and reigning Champion of the World. Let that fact settle in for a few minutes. By his own acclaim, he is Mexican. And, through his birthright he is American. Coming on the heels of this extraordinary accomplishment, he has now earned the admiration, emulation, respect, and love of his people. At the end of the day, he has clearly given a new sense of Power to his People. Rest assured that the champion’s people will make their comments heard in the sports world.
As mentioned earlier in my account, this was a date that will be etched in the memory of millions Chicano, Mexican-American and Mexican boxing fans wherever they happen to be living on the globe. Should you self-identify with any of these three mentioned groups, let the champ know on his social media platform that you will be supporting him according to your group choice liking, …no questions asked! You can sign up on his Instagram page at the end of this story. Who can deny that they felt a gushing pride as they witnessed this “Aztec Warrior” prevail in his effort to become the new Champ. Call it what you may, but we certainly can settle for an Andy Ruiz, Jr. Group Trifecta in representing all of his Fans, Friends, and Familia who are born with “Sangre Mexicana.” Not since the era of Oscar De La Hoya has there been such wide acceptance and appreciation for a boxer representing our vast community… who grabbed such acclaim and world headlines with great joy and humility. So, there we have the opening chapter in the Andy Ruiz, Jr. tenure and legacy as our World Champion or “Nuestro Campeon Mundial.” We’ll do our very best to follow him step-by-step, bout-by-bout, and chapter-by-chapter. Till the next time/Hasta la próxima vez, Qué Viva Andy Ruiz, Jr.!!