Every-Thing Sports

What makes for an upset like Ruiz over Joshua? Let's look at the factors

Score one for the fat guys! That was an Instagram post I made Sunday morning pertaining to Andy Ruiz Jr's upset knockout of heavyweight boxing champ Anthony Joshua. I watched a replay and highlights of the fight late Saturday night/wee hours Sunday morning.This was considered the third biggest upset in boxing history behind Hasim Rahman over Lennox Lewis and Buster Douglas over Mike Tyson. We love a good upset. Especially when the guy doing the upsetting kind of looks like one of us common folk.

One look at Ruiz and I guarantee you there were guys who immediately thought "if he can be the heavyweight champ, I can probably do the same thing!" Please, don't be THAT guy. Ruiz is a professional boxer who had a 33-1 record entering into this fight with Joshua. Whether he fought and beat 33 tomato cans, broom sticks, or some version of a weak opponent in those wins, he's still a pro boxer. There are several factors that go into the anatomy of an upset in my opinion, so let's take a look at them:

Perception

Perception heading into a matchup is a huge contributing factor. In this case, people looked at Ruiz and thought he looked like a Walmart greeter, a bus driver, a taco truck owner, etc. As spectators, we often look at guys' appearances. The first guy off the bus is a real thing. When you're a physical specimen, you attract more attention. People are drawn to the physically imposing figures that look like they're chiseled from granite as opposed to the Average Joes that look more like them because the former reminds them of a superhero and the latter reminds them of themselves.

Odds

The odds-makers have a huge part in upsets. They often set the betting odds in which upsets are named by because we have no other true measuring stick to judge them. Vegas isn't stupid. They set the odds in order to drive betting so they make money. So when you see a team or player or fighter is favored, please believe it's by design and through research. Casinos and bookmakers are in business for a reason.

Previous history

Previous history, or track record, is based upon the records of opponents coming into an event. Perception and odds also play a factor into this. For example, the 2003-04 Pistons finished two games better than the Lakers. The Pistons franchise had only won two NBA titles previously (back to back in the late 80s/early 90s), whereas the Lakers had 14 titles to that point and recently reeled off a three-peat a few years earlier. Given that the Lakers had Shaq, Kobe, Gary Payton, and Karl Malone, it was thought they'd run away with another title. The Pistons not only won the series, they beat the vaunted Lakers 4-1.

Superiority complex

When the perception that one team or athlete is so much better than their opponent, the odds are in their favor, and history says that team or athlete will most likely win, they can have an inflated sense of self. Taking an opponent likely or not seriously enough can lower a team or player's guard. This is a recipe for disaster. The 2001 Rams thought a backup quarterback couldn't beat "The Greatest Show on Turf." Little did we know that Super Bowl win by Tom Brady and the Patriots would give birth to a dynasty.

Disadvantages

There are also times in which an opponent is at a decided disadvantage. In college sports, one team may have a bigger budget in order to recruit, train, house, and even feed better players. Having better coaches and accommodations will give one team or player an advantage. Maybe there's a health issue involved. UCLA women's softball player Stevie Wisz has lived with a heart condition and put off surgery until after the Women's College World Series. Whatever the disadvantages are, they can often lead one team/player to believe they'll undoubtedly win, while stacking the odds heavily against said team/player's opponent.

Upsets are what gives us hope in sports. They're the improbable wins in which fan bases place their faith until they either win, or get their hopes crushed. We all love a good upset. The NCAA basketball tournament has shown us that an upset can galvanize a group of fans and onlookers into supporting the unlikely hero. Who doesn't enjoy the underdog beating the overwhelming favorite? No one likes the favorite who always wins. Sure, a dynasty is greatness to be admired, but the one who knocks off said dynasty will be celebrated just as much if not more. Once again, here's to all my fellow fat guys out there. Let's forego the gym and healthy food in favor of tacos and television in hopes of becoming the next Andy Ruiz Jr.

Saturday Boxing Showcase

At age 40 Pacquiao still has the goods to beat Thurman

Photo illustration courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions.

Manny Pacquiao is a shell of his former fighting self. Now 40 years old, gone is phenom who won world titles in a record eight weight classes. Gone is the thunderous left hand that led him to knockout victories over the likes of Ricky Hatton, Erik Morales and Miguel Cotto. Gone is the transcendent star, who became a household name not just in the boxing world, but in the general public. But instead of focusing on what's gone, let's talk about what's still there. At age 40 Pacquiao is still an overwhelmingly skilled pressure fighter. He's quick, intelligent and relentless. Despite all he's lost, what Pacquaio (61-7-2, 39 KO) has left is still more than enough to beat Keith Thurman Saturday night.

Thurman (29-0, 22 KO,) who will take the ring opposite Pacquiao at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, has never lost a fight in his professional career. He's a tremendous technician who has beaten a who's who of PBC welterweights throughout his 12-year run in the division. But despite being a decade younger, we can't talk about what Pacquiao has lost without having the same conversation about Thurman. Following an uninspiring victory over Danny Garcia in 2017, Thurman had elbow surgery. The injury kept him out of the ring for nearly two years, just returning this January to beat journeyman Josesito Lopez in another lackluster performance.

Thurman has also shown an erosion of power. Originally nicknamed "One Time" for his ability to score one-punch knockouts, Thurman hasn't recorded a knockout since a 2013 victory over Jesus Soto Karass. Sarcastic boxing fans and opponents have joked that now "One Time" is a reference to how many times a year Thurman usually fights.

Thurman's resume also pales in comparison to Pacquiao. Pacquiao has taken down multiple hall of famers en route to what will ultimately be a first ballot hall of fame career. With victories of the likes of Cotto, Marquez, Bradley, Mosley, Hatton and Marquez it's not an exaggeration to say you can count on both hands the number of fighters Pacquiao has beaten that are better than Thurman. On the other hand, Thurman has never faced the best at 147 pounds. He never got a crack at Floyd Mayweather, avoided Errol Spence, and boxing politics have prevented a Terence Crawford fight. Thurman's victories over Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter both qualify as "nice" but stop miles short of career defining.

Manny Pacquaio has had quite a career in the boxing ring, and may only have a few fights left. He's not the fighter he used to be, but what's left is a top-5 welterweight with superior hand speed, timing and movement. Is that enough to beat Keith Thurman on Saturday night? We will know soon.

TIM'S PREDICTION

Pacquiao by unanimous decision.

UNDERCARD REPORT

The televised card starts with a showcase fight for Sergey Lipinets (15-1, 11 KO) against John Molina Jr. (30-8, 24 KO.) Molina's skills have long eroded and this should be an excellent chance for Lipinets to score a knockout in an exciting slugfest.

Fight two pits Yordenis Ugas against former prospect Omar Figueroa. Ugas (23-4, 11 KO) is fresh of a controversial loss to Shawn Porter in a fight many observers thought should have gone his way. Figueora (28-0-1, 19 KO) has battled injuries, distractions and problems making weight, but is still tremendous power puncher.

The co-feature pits super-middleweight titleist Caleb Plant (18-0, 10 KO) in what should be a showcase fight over Mike Lee (21-0, 11 KO,) who is taking a big step up in competition.

PAY PER VIEW DETAILS

The fight will be distributed via Fox Pay-Per-View for a price of $74.99. Cord cutters can stream the action on FoxSports.com for the same price.

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