AJ remains calm in face of shock defeat

by Kate Rosindale on Jun 02, 2019

Anthony Joshua is remaining upbeat and calm in the face of being on the wrong end of one of the biggest upsets in modern heavyweight championship history.

AJ suffered a seventh-round TKO at the hands of Andy Ruiz Jr. at Madison Square Garden on Saturday 1 June.

In an in-ring interview after the fight AJ said: “It just wasn’t my night. I just have to turn it around a few notches and bring it back my way. I don’t want people to drown in their sorrows. This will show I have the power and the strength.”

When asked about an immediate rematch, AJ said: “100%. 100%”. He later tweeted: "The vision remains the same!"

But the British star was also quick to congratulate Mexican-American Ruiz, tweeting: “This is Andy’s night, congratulations Champ.”

It must have been hard for 29-year-old AJ to find those words after being beaten by such a late replacement – not to mention massive 11-1 underdog – as Ruiz.

After all Ruiz was only in the fight after AJ’s original opponent, Jarrell Miller, failed a trio of tests for different performance-enhancing drugs.

The fact that the MSG match-up was AJ’s long-awaited USA debut only serves to rub salt in the wounds of the former unified heavyweight champion.

Meanwhile media outlets are calling Ruiz’s victory “a spectacular upset” and “a monster upset”. One commentator said the result “flipped the heavyweight division upside down”.

So how did Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) pull off such an upset against AJ (22-1, 21 KOs), and in the process manage to become the first fighter of Mexican descent to win a heavyweight title?

After a first round that saw both fighters feeling each other out, AJ asserted more authority in the second. His height advantage of four inches and his eight-inch reach were looking dramatic under the MSG lights.

Round 3 saw a firefight when a two-punch combination from AJ sent Ruiz to the deck for the first time in his career. But the challenger managed to not only beat the count, he also fought through AJ’s attempt to finish him off and scored a pair of shocking knockdowns himself. AJ beat the count but was in serious trouble.

While the fourth was quiet, with each fighter appearing wary of his opponent, the fifth saw AJ looking fresher and like he was waiting for his moment. But in round six Ruiz let his hands go and came on strong to land a couple of big blows.

In the seventh Ruiz dropped AJ early on and although the champion made it to his feet, it was all over when the challenger dropped him again for the third time in the fight.

Referee Mike Griffin spoke to Joshua in the corner and decided to wave it off, sparking anger and disbelief from the sell-out crowd, many of who were Brits over for AJ’s first fight on American soil.

The decision meant 29-year-old Ruiz had shown enough force and heart to capture AJ’s IBF, WBA and WBO titles.

After the fight, AJ’s promoter Eddie Hearn, said his fighter would exercise an immediate rematch clause.

He added: “AJ has the heart of a lion and will come back stronger.”