Minutes following Andy Ruiz Jr.’s stunning knockout of Anthony Joshua last Saturday. I believed that the heavyweight boxing scene was dead once again. We were not going to get the super fight between Joshua and Deontay Wilder and if it even were to happen down the road, the hype would be downgraded since Joshua is no longer undefeated. However, in comes Ruiz Jr., who is the first Mexican heavyweight champion in boxing’s history and a fighter that could shake up the boxing world and make the heavyweight division the most popular like it was in the 20th century.
Mexico has the most passionate combat sports fanbase. From MMA to boxing, Mexican fans support their countrymen more than any other nation on the planet. Legends like Julio Cesar Chavez and Juan Manuel Marquez and current boxers such as Canelo Alvarez, Leo Santa Cruz, and Abner Mares have recently carried that Mexican fandom, but the lighter weight divisions are not the most popular divisions in boxing. The heavyweight divisions in both MMA and boxing are the gold standard of combat sports and the heavyweight champions of each promotion get labeled as the “Baddest Man on the Planet”. The heavyweights are also popular in the fact that they hit harder. Every combat sports fan loves the one-punch knockout. While one-punch KOs happen across all weight classes, these finishes do not have the same effect that they do when it is big guys landing them. Deontay Wilder is the face of American boxing and only one of his wins was not by knockout. A reason why many boxing people criticize Floyd Mayweather Jr. is because of his defensive style instead of being a guy who always goes for the knockout. With Ruiz Jr.’s win over Joshua and the rematch that will ensue later this year, if Ruiz Jr. is able to defeat and knockout Joshua twice, will a Wilder versus Ruiz Jr. unification bout be the biggest in boxing history?
Assuming this fight happens, this would mean that Wilder would have rematch wins over Luis Ortiz and Tyson Fury, and Andy Ruiz Jr. would have two wins over Anthony Joshua. With Fury and Joshua out of the mix, Ruiz Jr. and Wilder become the only two names that matter in the heavyweight division. With a unification bout between the two for all the heavyweight belts, the winner would become the first undisputed heavyweight champion in the social media era of the world. I believe that with all the hype that Ruiz Jr. got from Twitter and Instagram for his knockout of Joshua and all the highlights that Wilder currently has if those two were to meet in late 2020, it could go down as the most important title fight in boxing history. Mexico vs. United States. African-American vs. Mexican. Wilder versus Ruiz Jr. has so many storylines going for it that everyone in every corner of North America is going to tune in regardless of if they care about boxing or not. Andy Ruiz Jr. is also relatable for many people with his body type. He does not have the “perfect” supermodel type of physique that Anthony Joshua proudly shows off on his social media, so boxing fans would have more in common with a winning boxer that looks more like them than a fighter that is 100 percent ripped. So maybe losing Anthony Joshua actually helped boxing out in terms of how much they could make from a Ruiz Jr. vs. Wilder fight rather than a Wilder vs. Joshua fight. Whatever happens, we now know that Andy Ruiz Jr. is an overnight star and may already be the biggest name in boxing.