By Scoop Malinowski
“Nothing is ever as it seems…”
Andy Ruiz TKO’ed Anthony Joshua last night in round seven to become the first Mexican Heavyweight Champ. On the surface it looked legit, but when you add up all the red flags surrounding the fight, it would not be unnatural to wonder or have suspicions.
The first curious move was at the weigh-in stare down, the champion Joshua allowed Ruiz to hold and pose with his belts. I can’t recall ever seeing a true champion do that gesture for his challenger before. And some champions have physically resisted their challenger trying to take or touch their belts at weigh-ins.
Actually the first red flag was that Eddie Hearn and Anthony Joshua even decided to give this American debut chance to an Al Haymon fighter. Hearn and Ruiz are supposedly bitter rivals because of Hearn’s failed attempts to lure Haymon and Wilder to fight Joshua. Haymon even turned down a four fight $120,000,000 DAZN offer. So then Hearn decides to reward Haymon and Wilder’s ducking by giving Haymon a shot at Joshua’s titles? Very odd, very strange.
The fight itself was curious. Ruiz is not known as a devastating puncher or a super fit athlete but his shots seemed to have done more damage on Joshua and it was Joshua who seemed the more fatigued. How Joshua could absorb and endure the right hands of Wladimir Klitschko, one of the hardest hitters in boxing history, but not the punches of Ruiz is extremely curious.
Then after the fight, didn’t you think Joshua was just a little bit too happy after losing everything? As one astute ring observer said, Joshua seemed “relieved” after.
Remember how emotionally lost Lennox Lewis was after losing to Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman? How devastated Wladimir Klitschko was after losing to Corrie Sanders? For Joshua, it all seemed like no big deal. Even part of a master plan.
Then at the post fight press conference, Hearn was asked about the contracted guaranteed immediate rematch and if a mandatory could postpone or kill the rematch. Hearn said, rather curiously, that “the rematch takes precedence. The WBO is the next mandatory. I already spoke with Paco Valcarel (WBO President), he said he would have no issues with the rematch.”
So the immediate rematch is already set? But we know sanctioning bodies pay little attention to their own rules and have a history of ignoring contracts and taking actions that favor certain figures. So the rematch was pre-arranged and Haymon and Ruiz will honor the contract, unlike how Don King and Hasim Rahman tried to break their immediate rematch contract with Lennox Lewis by fighting David Izon in China?
And lastly, another convenient result of Ruiz beating Joshua is now the boxing establishment has a new major star to sell and promote. Andy Ruiz will attract the enormous Mexican demographic. Before this weekend, Ruiz was an irrelevant figure, now he’s a superstar and his future fights will generate millions. That works out perfectly for the business side of boxing, Fury, Wilder, Joshua, Ruiz, Usyk, Whyte, Hrgovic. The heavyweight division is now abundant with a variety of diverse characters and styles.
And now Joshua has a major money rematch with Ruiz instead of having to fight no names and tomato cans because Wilder and Fury have repeatedly run away from him and expressed zero interest of fighting Joshua any time soon.
This could all be a pipe dream and just a bunch of coincidences that came together to work out perfectly for the short term future of the sport.
But then again, it could be a gigantic long term inside job. You never know in boxing, you just never know.