Anthony Joshua’s defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr has sent shockwaves through the world of heavyweight boxing.
AJ was the 1/25 favourite, but was sent to the canvas four times as Mexican-American Ruiz Jr produced a seventh-round victory to win the fight at odds of 12/1.
It’s not the first time we’ve seen such an upset in the ring, however, and Joshua now joins Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis in the ranks of boxing’s biggest surprises…
Mike Tyson – beaten by James ‘Buster Douglas – 1990 @ 40/1
Having seen off Tyrel Biggs, Larry Holmes, Michael Spinks, Frank Bruno and Carl Williams (with a 93-second knockout) in the second half of the 1980s, Mike Tyson was comfortably boxing’s top dog.
He held the WBA, WBC and IBF belts, boasted a perfect 37-0 record, and was rated by Ring magazine as a pound-for-pound the planet’s number one fighter.
Like Joshua’s bout with Ruiz Jr was seen a step towards Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury, Tyson’s clash with Douglas was tipped as a warm-up ahead of a showdown versus Evander Holyfield.
Nobody gave Douglas a chance, and few expected the bout to go beyond a round or two. But Douglas showed no fear, and used his greater agility and movement to show Tyson the way and land plenty of blows in the early stages.
The un-fancied Douglas fought Tyson in a way Iron Mike hadn’t encountered before. Both fighters traded blows, Douglas’s right jabs caused Tyson’s eye to swell, while Tyson floored Douglas in round eight.
But Tyson’s 37-0 record came crashing down in the 10th, when a giant Douglas uppercut sent him reeling. With Tyson reeling, Douglas piled in with four more punches to send Tyson down for the first time in his career, stunning the sport around the world.
Tyson bounced back with first-round wins over Henry Tillman and Alex Stewart but it would be six years before he became world champion again, defeating Bruno once more in 1996.
Lennox Lewis – beaten by Hasim Rahman – 2001 @ 20/1
There are a number of parallels in AJ’s defeat with Lennox Lewis’ loss to Hasim Rahman in 2001.
Lewis was hoping to fight Mike Tyson, but the American was suspended and a replacement needed to be found. The then-little known Rahman took up the challenge just as Ruiz Jr did.
The fight was in South Africa, some 5,000ft above sea-level. Rahman arrived two weeks earlier than Lewis in order to adjust to the altitude. Lewis prepared in Las Vegas so he could also film scenes for a role in Ocean’s 11.
Lewis, defending the WBC, IBF and IBO belts, looked sluggish throughout, and Rahman held his own in the opening four rounds.
The unknown challenger then announced himself to the world with a strong right to send Lewis to the floor.
Rahman took the three belts and became the most in-demand man in boxing.
But Lewis wasn’t down for long. Activating a re-match clause in the contract, he took Rahman down inside just four rounds to regain his titles just seven months later.
Anthony Joshua next fight
So what next for Anthony Joshua? It seems likely he’ll opt for the Lewis route and activate a re-match with Ruiz Jr as soon as possible. Already there’s been talk of a November showdown.
But long-term, the path is now muddied. Wilder and Fury appear set for their own re-match, possibly around spring next year.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication