Andy Ruiz Jr. was barely on anyone’s heavyweight radar when he was summoned as a replacement to fight champion Anthony Joshua.

On Sunday (AEST), he became the new Buster Douglas, and proved just how deceiving looks can be.

A seventh round stoppage saw Ruiz Jr. (33-1-0) become the new WBA Super, WBO, IBF, and IBO champion and stun the world in one of the greatest upsets in sporting history.

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Ruiz Jr., the first Mexican-American heavyweight champion ever, stepped in to take on Joshua after fighting April 20, when he defeated Alexander Dimitrenko.

Eddie Hearn needed a replacement for Jarrell Miller, who failed every drugs test under the sun, and while Ruiz Jr. didn’t look the business, the British promoter knew he was a legitimate challenge.

“It was one of the difficult things in selecting him, because I knew he [Ruiz Jr.] was the right guy,” Hearn explained prior to the fight.

“I knew that he would give it everything, I knew he was dangerous, I knew he would let his hands go, I knew he would make an exciting fight, but he just doesn’t look great in his trunks, right?

“But you’ve got to sort of look past that and say: He’s better than Jarrell Miller. Everyone in boxing knows that. So, I could have chosen an Adonis that would have gone one round.

“But I had to give the fans the fight of someone that I knew had plenty of cojones, as they say in Mexico, and he has. He has no fear, Andy Ruiz. He’ll let his hands go, he’ll do everything he can to knock Joshua out.”

Hearn knew it, but boxing fans ridiculed the decision based off Ruiz Jr.’s less than impressive appearance, especially when stacked up next to Joshua.

Nevertheless, Joshua shaped up to be by far the biggest test of Ruiz Jr.’s career.

Before his Madison Square Garden masterclass, his most high profile bout was a split decision loss to Joseph Parker in Auckland for the WBO crown he now owns.

Ruiz Jr.’s father, a native of Mexico, got him into the gym when he was 6 and had his son in bouts a year later. Boxing, in fact, changed his outlook on life.

“Boxing kept me away from big trouble,” he said, noting he hung around with the wrong crowd and saw friends wind up in jail or on drugs in Imperial, California.

“Then I joined the Mexican Olympic team when I was 16, and started getting serious about boxing.

“When my dad (first) took me to the gym, kids were beating my butt. I didn’t want to go back. I end up keep doing it and a few months later I ended up beating them up.”

As he proved against Joshua, Ruiz Jr. is deceptively quick; speed and power in his hands that can trouble the best, accompanied by a serious chin that was tested in a wild third round in New York.

Now, Ruiz Jr. will have to get ready for a rematch at the end of the year in the UK; a fight both Joshua and Hearn have all but confirmed.

This time, though, the Mexican will have the belts, and deservedly so, some more respect from those around the world.

“I just feel so good, man,” Ruiz Jr. said after his win.

“This is what I’ve been dreaming about, this is what I’ve been working hard for, and I can’t believe I just made my dreams come true.”



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