SportsMap Weekend Boxing Rewind

Ruiz KOs Joshua in storybook upset

Photo courtesy of Matchroom Boxing.

Andy Ruiz Jr. turned the sport of boxing on its head Saturday night in New York, stunning the heavily-favored Anthony Joshua via seventh round knockout and putting the rest of the division on notice. Ruiz, a 15-to-1 underdog at the start of the night, overcame a third round knockdown to badly hurt Joshua late in the third and eventually finish him off via TKO in round seven.

Joshua (22-1, 21 KO) started the fight by methodically working his jab against the shorter, portlier Ruiz (33-1, 22 KO,) who looked like a bus driver fighting a bodybuilder in the ring against the Adonis-figured Joshua. After two rounds of feeling each other out, Joshua landed a counter left hook that sent Ruiz to the canvas. Joshua, clearly thinking Ruiz was on his last legs, moved in for the kill. But instead of ending the fight Joshua walked into a left hand that staggered him and eventually sent him to the canvas. Ruiz, who has diminutively quick hands for this unathletic body type, jumped on Joshua and sent him to the canvas again after a barrage of punches. Joshua was in bad shape but survived the round after being saved by the bell.

Joshua spent most of the fourth and fifth frames regaining his legs following the knockdowns, and looked to be back in control in round six. But Joshua, who at 6'-6 and 247 lbs towered over Ruiz, got sloppy again in round seven. Ruiz, used a barrage of quick punches to send Joshua to the canvas twice more before the referee had seen enough, calling off the action for the safety of Joshua.

The win makes Ruiz, a previous heavyweight journeyman, the unified heavyweight champion of the world, holding three of the four major world titles. Deontay Wilder, the WBC champion, holds the fourth. Ruiz is the first fighter of Mexican descent to win a major heavyweight championship.

Ruiz wasn't even supposed to get a chance at Joshua. The fight was originally given to Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller of Brooklyn. But in the lead up to the fight Miller tested positive for three separate banned substances, and Ruiz stepped in on short notice to keep the card on schedule. Miller is now left to question what could have been.

After the fight both Joshua and his promoter Eddie Hearn indicated that they would exercise their contractual right to an immediate rematch with Ruiz. Hearn indicated the rematch, which would once again be for three of the four major heavyweight belts, would take place in the United Kingdom in either November or December. Joshua was gracious in defeat, telling DAZN's Chris Mannix that it was Ruiz's night and anything can happen in heavyweight boxing. He stayed in the ring following the loss and smiled while posing for pictures with Ruiz, who had just taken his belts.

Joshua's loss puts a question mark on the assumed unification fight between him and Wilder. Both men have been posturing for the fight for the better part of two years, with both sporting world titles and undefeated records prior to Saturday. Wilder was quick to take to social media and criticize Joshua following the defeat, saying his career was built on lies and gifts.

SMITH BLOWS OUT N'DAM, CALLS FOR CANELO

In the co-feature bout England's Callum Smith (26-0, 19 KO) made easy work of Hassan N'Dam, defending his WBA super middleweight title via a third round knockout. Smith (26-0, 19 KO) used his four inch height advantage to overwhelm N'Dam (37-3, 21 KO) with jabs and wait for openings to land damaging counter shots. Referee Charlie Fitch called an end to the action following Smith's third knockdown in as many rounds.

After the fight Smith expressed interest in challenging unified middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez, who has fought at super middleweight in the past. A matchup with Alvarez would likely come in 2020, as Alvarez is penciled in for a third fight with Gennady Golovkin in September of this year. Smith's brother Liam lost to Alvarez via knockout in September of 2016.

Alief native retains WBC title

Charlo scores victory in return to Houston

Photo courtesy of Showtime Sports

Jermall Charlo cruised to an easy victory Saturday night at NRG Arena in Houston, but the WBC middleweight champion could not score the knockout he was looking for. Charlo won a unanimous decision by scores of 120-108 (x2) and 119-109. SportsMap.com scored the bout 118-110 in favor of Charlo.

The Alief native looked like the bigger, stronger man from the opening bell. However Charlo (29-0, 21 KO) seemed to struggle with Adams' awkward style. Charlo consistently landed the harder, cleaner punches, but never seemed to hurt Adams (21-3, 13 KO,) who displayed an amazing chin in defeat.

The fight was a big step-up in competition for Adams, who went 12 rounds for the first time in his career. Adams looked completely overmatched at the beginning of the fight, seeming to be satisfied with merely surviving. As the fight went on Adams seemed to get more comfortable in the ring, working behind a loopy, range-finding jab to score some points despite losing most rounds.

"Of course I wanted to knock him out," Charlo said. "That's what we do. That's what we train for. I didn't get the knockout. My brother gave me and A though, so I'm happy with that."

Charlo was the main aggressor in the ring, leading Adams around and often pinning him in the corners. He was at his best when he could bully Adams into the corners and score points with body shots and uppercuts. Charlo said that he hurt his hand early in the fight, which could have been a reason for his performance.

"I've never fought with a hurt hand before. Ever. Adversity is everything," Charlo said.

After the fight Charlo talked about his desire to fight one of the big names of the middleweight division, specifically Canelo Alvarez.

"Canelo's gotta fight me sooner or later," Charlo said. "He cannot retire without fighting me."

Charlo, who is aligned with Showtime, is the only one of the four big players in the middleweight division that doesn't regularly fight on streaming service DAZN. Because of this Charlo has had difficulty getting the big fight he wants at 160 lbs.

The official attendance at NRG Arena was 6,408, announced as a sellout.


LUBIN ROLLS IN ELIMINATOR

Junior middleweight contender Erickson Lubin (21-1, 16 KO) earned a spot as the mandatory challenger for the WBC title in dismantling Zakaria Attou (29-7-2, 7 KO) via fourth a fourth round technical knockout. Lubin started the fight by feeling out Attou, who looked technically deficient compared to Lubin from the opening bell. By round two Lubin was landing flush left crosses that were pushing Attou back to the ropes.

In round four Lubin unleashed a flurry of punches that send Attou to the canvas. He beat the count and wanted to continue but his corner threw in the towel, stopping the fight. The victory means Lubin is in line to eventually face Tony Harrison for the WBC title.

MARRERO HANGS ON TO BEAT RAMIREZ

In the opening bout of the television card featherweight Claudio Marrero (24-3, 17 KO) started hot and did enough in the closing rounds to earn a unanimous decision victory over Eduardo Ramirez (22-2-3, 9 KO.) Judges scored the fight 115-113, 116-112 and 118-110, all in favor of Marrero. SportsMap.com scored the fight 115-113 for Marrero.

Marrero was the obvious aggressor early in the fight but Ramirez's grinding, inside style seemed to tire out Marrero as the fight wore on. Many rounds were close with both fighters trading many body-based combinations.



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