Joshua came into the fight as a strong favorite against the unheralded late replacement. Ruiz had shown promise in his career, but wasn’t expected to be much more than a welcoming gift for Joshua in his US debut.
The optics of the fighters contributed to the public’s shock. Joshua, standing at 6’6″ with a muscular physique towered over the chubby 6’0″ Mexican- American in their first faceoff. Many had decided the outcome of the fight in that moment.
They fought anyway.
Looking forward to the December 7 rematch, fewer are overlooking the unified champion. Ruiz displayed a mixture of speed, power and skill that proved overwhelming for the hulking Brit.
Ruiz was also able to absorb the former champs best shots, and was even floored in the third round, prior to recovering. Ruiz’s stamina, recovery and diverse attack to the body and head proved to be the difference in the fight.
Joshua’s stamina and chin have been a point of concern for most of his early career; and, while his battle with Wladimir Klitschko muted many of those doubts at the time, they have been reignited by the loss he suffered, and how it looked, to Ruiz.
The script of the rematch is monumentally different than the original. What was once a question of whether or not Ruiz belonged in the ring with Joshua has turned into a question of whether or not Joshua, not Ruiz, has the physical attributes and skills to make the adjustments to alter the outcome in their second meeting.
Joshua has the opportunity to do what great Heavyweight champions of old have done; endure a defeat only to reclaim the belts they lost.
Ruiz has the opportunity to cement himself as an elite Heavyweight world champion, with as strong of a claim to the Heavyweight crown as anyone on the planet.
We will discover the story and witness history, either way, on December 7 in Saudi Arabia.