In his seventh defense the WBO, WBA, IBO and IBF world heavyweight champion “AJ” Anthony Joshua was dropped four times before being stopped by Andy “Destroyer” Ruiz, Jr. Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, in New York City.
The DAZN (Zone) network prior to the fight made it seem like Joshua was the second coming to Muhammad Ali. It was laughable as far as this writer was concerned.
In April of 2016 Joshua won the IBF title knocking out Charles Martin, 23-0-1, in 2 rounds in London, UK. He looked like the real deal. His first two defenses were against lower ranked contenders in stopping Dominic “Trouble” Breazeale, 17-0, in 7 rounds in London. Then he stopped Eric “Drummer Boy” Molina, 25-3, in 3 rounds in London.
Then after a seventeen month layoff in April of 2017 Joshua unified titles in a war with WBA World Champion Wladimir “Dr. Steelhammer” Klitschko, 64-4, in eleven rounds in London. Joshua was down in the sixth round. Klitschko was down in the fifth and eleventh rounds which included the vacant IBO belt. At the time of stoppage the scores were 96-93, 93-95 and 95-93 in favor of Joshua by majority decision.
This fight with Klitschko seemed to have an effect on Joshua in his next two defenses. In October he stopped lower ranked contender Carlos Takam, 35-3-1, in 10 rounds in Wales, UK. Takam had been knocked down in the fourth round. The fight was stopped do to a cut over the right eye of Takam.
Next in one of the most boring title matches this writer remembers Joshua decisioned Joseph “Lupesoliai La’auliolemalietoa” Parker, 24-0, in Wales in March of 2018, by scores of 118-110 twice and 119-109.
In September Joshua stopped former Olympic Gold Medalist Russian Alexander “Russian Vityaz” Povetkin, 34-1, in the seventh round having him down twice. Scores up until then were 58-56 twice and 59-55, in London. Povetkin hadn’t lost since October of 2013 when decisioned by Wladimir Klitschko. It was decided by his promoter his next fight would be in the USA.
After nine months of inactivity Joshua came to Madison Square Garden with many fans making the trip from the UK. He was to meet “Baby” Miller but the latter flunked three drug tests. His replacement was Andy “Destroyer” Ruiz, Jr. 32-1. When Ruiz was dropped in the third round it looked like another easy defense for Joshua except Ruiz didn’t quit but got up fighting back dropping Joshua twice in the round.
In the seventh round Ruiz dropped Joshua for a third time. Like in the two previous knockdowns when he got up referee Michael Griffin asked if he was alright and wiped his gloves after Joshua raised both of them up signaling he was ready to go on. Before you knew it Ruiz dropped Joshua for a fourth time near a corner. Upon rising Joshua backed into the corner spitting out his mouthpiece and resting his arms on the ropes. The referee had seen enough waving the fight off.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing announced while in the ring there was a return clause and it would be held in the UK. The major players in the heavyweight division are WBC champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder, 41-0-1 (40), and Tyson Fury, 27-0-1 (19). Fury has recently been signed by Top Rank Boxing and is scheduled on June 15th to meet Germany’s Tom Schwartz, 24-0 (16), in Las Vegas, NV. This has postponed a rematch between Fury and Wilder who fought to a disputed draw in December of 2018 that most viewers felt Fury won.
Wilder will be fighting a rematch with his No. 3 ranked contender Cuban Luis “King Kong” Ortiz, 31-1 (26), of Miami, FL, with date and where not yet let out to the public. This writer considers Ortiz still the most dangerous heavyweight in the world.
So the heavyweight picture is even less clear that prior to the Joshua-Ruiz fight. They will have a rematch probably before the year is out. Fury and Wilder have fights scheduled.