Andy Ruiz Jr. pulled off one of the most incredible upsets in boxing history when he knocked out heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua at Madison Square Garden. And unless the two agree on a new deal, they will have a rematch, probably this year, as dictated in the contract for the first bout.
Ruiz was a massive underdog, and the opening rounds of the fight bore that out. He was consistently out-boxed by the then-undefeated Joshua, but as the fight drew on, Ruiz landed some damaging, punishing blows. One particular shot to the temple in round three stunned Joshua and he really never recovered from there.
Ruiz’s springboard aggression combined with a deceptively fast hand speed led to four knockdowns of Joshua before the fight was called. Ruiz shocked the world, and he’s currently basking in the glory that comes with it. No matter what happens for the remainder of his career, his place is etched in history.
A rematch is almost certainly coming
But there will be a rematch, or at least, there are few who believe one isn’t coming. It makes sense for everyone involved. Ruiz gets another payday and another shot at beating a big-name guy he already knows he can beat. Joshua gets a chance to avenge his first career loss (and to regain his four heavyweight titles), and also another payday.
So now what will the conversation be around the rematch? Will Ruiz be favored?
Nope. He isn’t now, nor is he expected to become the favorite at any point. There’s a reason Joshua was favored, and many who picked Joshua will be sticking to their guns. He’s the more accomplished and polished striker. He has all the tools to win. He’s beaten better competition than Ruiz has, aside from, well, himself. The only x-factor is how his first career loss affects his gameplan and in-ring psyche.
There are some concerns that Joshua’s career is about to take a dive, but it will take more than one TKO loss for that to truly happen. Many point to Joshua’s win over Wladimir Klitschko in 2017 as his best moment as a boxer, but they also conclude that Joshua has been on the decline since then.
Ruiz isn’t the favorite, but he’s not overlooked, either
And none of that necessarily implies that Ruiz is being overlooked. It’s safe to say that, for the rest of his career, Ruiz will be taken seriously by every potential competitor. If Joshua underestimated him at all before, he certainly won’t now.
But realistically, what happened at Madison Square Garden was an outlier. That’s why it is considered such a massive upset — the odds simply were not in Ruiz’s favor. Dozens of boxing experts studied each competitor, and the overwhelming majority felt that Joshua would not only win, but dominate. Parts of the opening rounds bore that out, too.
Joshua was such a significant favorite in the first bout, so much so that a $100,000 bet at William Hill, on Joshua, would have paid out just $5,000 — a 20/1 bet. For the rematch, which isn’t yet official, some sportsbooks have already released their numbers and Joshua remains the favorite, though significantly less so. Bet365 opened with Joshua at -350 and Ruiz at +250, meaning a $350 bet on Joshua would earn just $100, while a $100 bet on Ruiz would earn $250.
“Everybody that bet on me is gonna make some serious money,” Ruiz said after the fight. If he beats Joshua again, the bettors would certainly make another killing, just not nearly as much.
Ruiz deserves all the praise in the world for his miraculous upset, and he certainly deserves his share of new fans, many of whom will be rooting for him to knock out Joshua again. But if he does, and Joshua finds himself on the mat once again, it will be another huge upset. It’s probably safe to say he’ll start getting some more love from oddsmakers if and when that happens.