Andy Ruiz Jr. & The Greatest Boxing Upset Since 1990
February 11, 1990: Buster Douglas vs. Mike Tyson in the Tokyo Dome. Tyson was 37-0 with 33 wins by KO. It was supposed to be a tune-up before the mega-fight with Evander Holyfield. Douglas was a 42-1 underdog, but a left-right-left in the 10th Round put Tyson on the canvas for a ten-count and shocked the world.
“The biggest upset in the history of heavyweight championship fights.” – Commentator Jim Lampley
Video: Buster Douglas Shocks the World
Nearly 30 years later, as of Saturday, June 1, 2019, the greatest heavyweight underdog in the history of boxing has a challenger. The fight card, as it did in 1990, said “Underdog,” but the body of the challenger said, “Really?”
When Andy Ruiz Jr. entered the ring against world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, it drummed up memories of Eric Esch (AKA: ‘Butterbean’) in the late 90s – a 400-pound boulder who rewrote the definition of the word athlete. And just like ‘Butterbean,’ Ruiz Jr. had a nickname; The Destroyer.
His first love was baseball, but his parents pushed him into martial arts and boxing as a six-year-old in southern California because... he destroyed everything. He was an aggressive child, and they thought he needed an outlet. He had his first amateur fight at age 7, and he beat a 12-year-old because he was too big to fight the kids in his age group.
After challenges with the law and expulsion from high school, Ruiz was left with little future outside of the ring. Without the time commitment of an education, he dedicated his life to boxing and KO’d more than 100 amateur opponents before turning pro in 2009. He watched two friends die from boxing injuries along the way – one in the ring, and another after a 37-month punch-induced coma. But Ruiz kept fighting and destroying one opponent after another.
A decade after turning pro, with a record of 32-1, he finally got his shot at a lifelong dream of becoming heavyweight champion of the world.
Just like Tyson welcomed Douglas’ invitation as a tune-up, Joshua met Ruiz Jr. as a consolation prize. The British champ was 22-0 with 21 wins by KO. He was supposed to fight Jarrell Miller this summer, but Miller tested positive for PEDs three times. Instead, Joshua met The Destroyer at Madison Square Garden. Questions about upcoming fights with Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury were the talk of the week, and nobody outside Ruiz’s corner expected this.
Every common sense eye-test and elementary knowledge of physics caused the world to look past this fight. It was a 6-foot-7 ringer with a body chiseled from granite against a 6-foot-2, fast-fisted wrecking ball carved from a wheel of cheese, and the latter carved up the former in the ring on Saturday.
“He just wrecked 100 years of physical fitness.” – Boxing Analyst Teddy Atlas
Atlas went on to say that Ruiz winning this fight will leave physical trainers without jobs (hyperbole, but a thought).
Don’t judge a book by its cover. It’s what inside that matters most. A long list of clichés could fit the theme of this Underdog. In the end, the little-known big guy they call The Destroyer caught The Champ with a 7th-Round KO, proving that anyone – regardless of what they look like – can be an Underdog one punch away from greatness.
Introducing the first Mexican-American heavyweight champion of the world, Andres Ruiz Jr.
The best part? We get a sequel...
The Rematch: Joshua Immediately Exercises Rematch Clause (ESPN)