Those familiar with boxing history know there was a time when heavyweights out of Britain were called “horizontal heavyweights” due to their series of failures to capture the title against American fighters. Anyone who is unaware of this history owes a debt to one man, Lennox Lewis, who spectacularly restored English heavyweights to glory in 1999 when he defeated the legendary Evander Holyfield. The equally legendary Lennox Lewis became the first English heavyweight in almost a hundred years to become undisputed heavyweight champion. Heading into his US debut against Andy Ruiz Jr., England’s Anthony Joshua was also on a mission to become undisputed heavyweight champion. However Andy Ruiz came into Madison Square Garden with his own expectations, and that was to restore the tradition of the “horizontal heavyweight”. Ruiz showed heart and resiliency, overcoming a knockdown in the third to floor Anthony Joshua four times to score the upset TKO victory. With his win, Ruiz became the first heavyweight of Mexican heritage to win the title.
As Ruiz deservedly celebrates the heavyweight division’s biggest upset since Hasim Rahman knocked out Lennox Lewis; boxing again learns a painful lesson about stalling potential mega fights. For the past 2 years boxing has waited for a mega fight between Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder for the undisputed title. For the past 2 years this potential fight between two undefeated knock out artist was unquestionably the most anticipated matchup for boxing fans and media alike. Yet like too many potential mega fights in the past, this one failed to materialize due to reports of stalled negotiations, disagreements over money, venue, and a plethora of other reasons. For this match-up fans were especially vocal, joining in debates over who deserves more money, who is more famous, and other ultimately irrelevant reasons. Once again the boxing gods had their own say in the matter. You can not build up a fight. You can not wait years to put two fighters in the ring. When you have two stars in one division they must be matched without delay or continue to risk one or both suffering an upset loss.
Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz are expected to fight a rematch. In order to reclaim the crown, the UK star can take a cue from his countryman. Lennox Lewis twice revenged upset losses to regain the heavyweight title, setting up matches (mostly notably against Mike Tyson), which were in jeopardy following his upset defeat. Joshua will have to match Lennox Lewis’ focus and confidence if he is to reclaim the title and finally meet rivals Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury in the ring. Of course newly crowned heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz, Jr. may have another say in these plans, as he reminded the world that anything can happen in boxing.