Newly-crowned world heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. wouldn’t be soaking in the glory of one of boxing’s biggest upsets if it wasn’t for curiosity.
Ruiz wasn’t initially pegged to fight superstar Anthony Joshua at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night. The 29-year-old ruined Joshua’s US debut when he upset him with a seventh-round TKO to grab all three of Joshua’s belts in what’s been compared to the biggest boxing underdog story since James “Buster” Douglas upset Mike Tyson in 1990.
For Ruiz, he wouldn’t be in this position without being a go-getter.
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How he found himself in the ring at the world’s most famous arena was with a direct message to boxing promoter Eddie Hearn on Instagram. Joshua, who was undefeated (22-0, 21 KOs) before Saturday’s bout, was supposed to fight Jarrell Miller, but Miller failed a bunch of drug tests which left Joshua’s opponent unknown.
“Once the three positive drugs tests came in, we searched for a new opponent,” Hearn recalled ahead of the fight, via Fox Sports. “I wasn’t under any instructions, it was a case of whoever you want.”
By appearance, Ruiz doesn’t look intimidating. There’s not remotely one definition of fitness on his body. He admits to being a Snickers lover and doesn’t mind calling himself “the little fat kid.” But in order for him to become the first Mexican world heavyweight champion, Ruiz had to take his shot.
“Someone sent me a direct message on Instagram: ‘I’m fighting Saturday. Give me this fight, I will fight harder than any of the names you’ve mentioned,” Hearn said about Ruiz Jr. “I will give you a better fight and I will beat Anthony Joshua’.”
It’s hard to say if Ruiz was ever on Hearn’s radar, but he made it clear: if Ruiz didn’t go out of his way and contact him directly, he wasn’t getting his dream bout.
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“OK, that got my attention,” Hearn said about the DM. “We had a look, we saw him deal with and stop Alexander Dimitrenko on Fox and the discussions continued. I’ve found a man who had a burning desire to create history, to create a legacy, and become the first ever Mexican world heavyweight champion.”
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