One of Most Exciting Rounds Ever: A Critical Analysis of Round Three Ruiz vs. Joshua

By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent

New World Heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr., who looks more like a cartoon character out of Marvel Comics or D.C. Comics, rather than a dangerous heavyweight contender, surely proved last week he is ‘The Mexican Rocky’, a Hispanic Latino version of Philadelphia’s mythical Rocky Balboa.

Once Anthony Joshua dropped Andy with an uppercut in round three, the crowd at Madison Square Garden, and the DAZN crowds watching the spectacle elsewhere, sensed blood and expected Joshua to move in for the knockout or stoppage kill.

Joshua lackadaisically stood in front of rolly polly Ruiz like he was a nothing opponent. After all, few punches from Ruiz had landed to that point, certainly nothing of consequence. What was bizarre in real time lookback reflect remains, after Andy went down, and then Anthony went down after hunting for the finish prematurely, that Anthony continued to stand in front of Andy like it was a nothing knockdown Andy had scored. It was a seven-count Joshua was down for, yet there was still no hint of respect for Joshua as either a boxer or a power puncher. It was as if Joshua felt he simply got careless and Ruiz simply got lucky, but really Ruiz was still absolutely nothing.

This mistake in Joshua’s thinking, both in his own analysis and his corner functioning in error by not alerting him to change his game plan to remove himself from exposing his chin to danger, proved a fatal fault in analogy for both Joshua and his corner. Joshua enjoyed an 82 inch to 74-inch edge, an eight-inch advantage in tactical superiority. Yet Joshua continued standing in front of Andy Ruiz Jr., whether in top form, or wounded, unable to grasp his critical flaw: he was judging the Andy book by its cover.

Power punching skill, and fast hands skill, not musculature, determine a fighter’s abilities. One professional boxer, having just knocked out a muscular opponent, noted to me some years ago: “Muscles don’t mean noting. I have knocked out and stopped all kinds of muscular looking guys. Big muscles do not give a person a boxing talent or special ability. You have amateur and professional experience, you can pick these guys apart.” The amateur and professional pedigree of a boxer sets him or her apart from the mediocre rest, and Joshua and his camp did not look at Ruiz’ resume under the microscope when they accepted him as a late opponent for Jarrell Miller.

Joshua knew to hold, but not to run, and not to stay away, a critical lack of inside the ring instinct Muhammad Ali had when Sonny Liston’s coagulant got into his eyes during their first world heavyweight title confrontation at the Convention Center in Miami Beach, Florida, on February 25, 1964. The fight was still even on the cards (58-56, 57-57, 56-58) when Liston gave up on his stool with an arm injury, though the beating Liston took made the end of the bout a foregone conclusion. The point is Ali (then Cassius Clay) was able to stick and move and have brilliant instincts when in trouble to maneuver his way out of it and get back to the corner and clear his eyes and his head.

Instead, Joshua, still standing in front of Andy, got his clock cleaned near the very end of the round, and wound up on the canvas partially through the ropes on queer street after getting trapped with power shots and pummeled in a corner by Ruiz. Joshua was standing in front of Ruiz like a stationary cardboard target waiting to get hit. It looked like a bad cartoon, with Bugs Bunny torturing Goliath, then moving off to a corner eating a carrot while the referee began to count over the fallen hero.

The bell soon sounded after Joshua got up, but even then for the next three rounds, hurt ot not, legs there or gone, Joshua was still standing in front of Andy, losing rounds. There remained a complete lack of respect for Ruiz’ power. Now, if Joshua had the ability to give and take for 12 rounds, like an Ike Ibeabuchi versus David Tua, it would be a different story. Instead, it looked more like Mike Tyson versus Francois Botha, Botha proved capable of outboxing Tyson on points, but once Botha got hit, the bout was over right then and there. After Joshua went down in the seventh round, after panting his way through the previous round like an exhausted out of shape dead dog, wounded in heart and spirit, with no funk left to Match Ruiz’ energy and desire, Joshua looked the part of Wile E. Coyote after getting blown up, standing there wondering what he was doing there in the first place.

The third round of Joshua-Ruiz told the story. It was an exciting round, reminiscent of Marvelous Marvin Hagler versus Thomas Hearns round one. Round three of Joshua versus Ruiz was a real banger. It overturned the apple cart of Joshua lovers, and had the MSG crowd rooting for Andy the underdog. Joshua in New York City, far from home, his back turned, and looking towards his corner in bewilderment when the bout ended, never let go of the ropes, and raised his hands. When you historically look at the James Kirkland versus Alfredo Angulo round one, after Angulo goes down, when he gets up he immediately raises his hands into the fighting stance. This was an indicator he was able to return to the heart of battle with fighting spirit. At the end of his battle, Anthony Joshua was a hollow soldier. No head movement, no foot movement, no respect, his game plan to just go in stand in front of a nothing opponent and punch out a visual tomato can no plan at all. The history of the heavyweight division reveals a much different outcome in the third round of Joe Louis versus Tony Galento on June 28, 1939, at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

As short fat heavyweight ‘Two Ton’ Tony Galento proved in the third round against Joe Louis when he decked Louis, looks are extraordinarily deceiving in professional sports. Louis, who was staggered by Galneto in the first round but paid it no heed, unlike Anthony Joshua, made immediate style adjustments and corrections once he rose from the canvas in round three, a wakeup call. Louis returned to his corner to clear his head, worked it out with trainer Jack Blackburn in this corner, and finished Galento in the next round with a brutal assault. This reporter has often noted how the late Jim Thorpe never looked like much, yet he played professional basketball, football, and baseball, took first, second, third or fourth in virtually every event at the 1912 Olympics, and was world class professional in virtually every sport out there. The moral of the story in round three of Anthony Joshua versus Andy Ruiz Jr. is you cannot judge a book by its cover. Joshua lost to this infamous visual trap.

Incidentally, long before short fat Andy Ruiz Jr., short fat heavyweight contender Two Ton Tony Galento had 57 knockouts in his 80 wins. In the tenth round, Galento either won the ten round decision, lost the ten round decision, drew the ten round decision, or knocked his opponent out in the tenth round, on 30 different occasions. You would never think the short fat fan could fight technically either, but Galento had a low crouch stance close to the floor, an iron defensive stance which was hard to puncture and hard to hit for many opponents, and the power of Rocky Balboa hitting hanging beef in the freezer of the meat market. Galento trained on beer, hamburgers, spaghetti, and chickens. He once ate six chickens and his sparring partners’ meals as well, and on another occasion ate 52 hot dogs. Rotten diet aside, it proved irrelevant. Galento had a powerful left hook more vicious than George Foreman or Earnie Shavers, a spectacular double jab. Like Andy Ruiz Jr., you just could not judge Galento by looking at him. Galento also could fight very dirty and get away with it, which is also a valuable skill. In September 1939, he repeatedly low blowed, eye thumbed and fouled (including repeatedly pushing his opponent over and squashing him by sitting atop him in the ring!) at Municipal Stadium in Philadelphia, one of the most disgraceful bouts ever fought till referee George Blake gave it to Galento at 2:44 of the fourteenth round. Galento, the New Jersey barman, should have been disqualified, but he got away with it against a former world title challenger.

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Robert Brizel - Head Boxing Correspondent
Robert Brizel - Head Boxing Correspondent
Robert is the Head Boxing Correspondent for Real Combat Media Boxing since 2013. Robert is also a photographer and ringside reporter for the RCM Tri State region which includes NJ, NY and PA. Robert conducts exclusive interviews, provides historical boxing articles and provides editorial ringside coverage of major boxing events. You can contact or follow Robert on Facebook and by email at robertbrizel@realcombatmedia.com.