Heading into the third round, everything was going according to plan for Anthony Joshua when he faced Andy Ruiz Jr. on June 1 at Madison Square Garden.
He controlled a fairly uneventful first two rounds, and it appeared to be a matter of time before he dispatched Ruiz and moved closer to an undisputed heavyweight title clash with Deontay Wilder. Early in the third, it looked like Joshua had the fight in hand when he sent Ruiz to the canvas with a left hook.
“He got hit with the big one,” former undisputed heavyweight champion Mike Tyson said on DAZN’s “One Night” documentary, which details the historic evening that saw Ruiz pull off the monumental upset. “I didn’t think he would get up.”
Not only did Ruiz get up, but he also came back with a vengeance. Joshua blasted Ruiz with a right hand, but Ruiz ate the punch and fought back with shots of his own. Ruiz threw a left hook that hit the side of Joshua’s head — which changed the complexion of the fight and perhaps Joshua’s career.
“His equilibrium. That’s your equilibrium,” Tyson said, pointing to the side of his head (at about the 18:45 mark of the documentary). “He’s OK. His body is f—ed up. He never got hit like that before.”
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Joshua got up, but didn’t look right whatsoever. With time ticking away in the round, it appeared Joshua would survive without taking more significant damage.
But with about 15 seconds remaining, Ruiz stalked Joshua to the corner and uncorked a barrage of heavy shots.
“Once you get him hurt, you throw everything,” Tyson said. “The whole f—ing load.”
When he got back up to his feet, referee Michael Griffin asked Joshua to walk toward him after the knockdown. Joshua, with a glazed stare in his eyes, didn’t move. Griffin, though, didn’t wave the fight off, and Joshua survived the round.
“(Griffin) could have stopped it,” said James “Buster” Douglas, the former undisputed heavyweight champion and the man who gave Tyson the first loss of his career. “He gave him the champion benefit of the doubt, which is normal.”
“Trying to save him,” Tyson said. “Trying to give him time.
“(Joshua) knows he’s in trouble,” Tyson continued. “He knows he’s in a lot of trouble.”
The “One Night” documentary, which was produced with Sylvester Stallone’s Balboa Productions, provides an in-depth look back on how Ruiz became the first fighter of Mexican descent to become a heavyweight champion. In addition to Tyson and Douglas, it also features interviews with Stallone, Evander Holyfield, Sugar Ray Leonard and others.
The rematch between Ruiz and Joshua is only a couple of weeks away, taking place Dec. 7 in Saudi Arabia on DAZN.