Combat Sports

Bye, bye, Mr Mexican Pie

Andy Ruiz Jr pulled of a massive shock by KO’ing Anthony Joshua in New York. And then delivered another stunning moment when he stepped onto the scales in Saudi Arabia.

"Victory defeats you", as this column has touched on previously, is a saying that succinctly describes the process of champion fighters getting too full of themselves, buying into their own hype, slacking off, and walking promptly into a world of pain and humiliation.

Pies also defeat you. That’s a saying coined by this column to describe Andy Ruiz Jr’s disgraceful effort in a rematch against Anthony Joshua for three of the main four belts in heavyweight boxing.

Having sprung a massive upset against Joshua when he accepted a short notice challenge in June, Ruiz clearly promptly cartwheeled to the buffet table. Given the shape he turned up in for the rematch, it’s clear the portly Mexican-American spent more time with tacos in his hands than boxing gloves strapped to them.

Once glance at Ruiz Jr as he wobbled to the ring in Saudi Arabia was enough to confirm he had followed in the footsteps of James ‘hamburger-buster’ Douglas following his shock win over Mike Tyson by eating his way to ignominy.

Eight months after beating Tyson, Douglas rolled into the ring against Evander Holyfield nearly 7kg over weight. Not long after being KO’d in the third round, he was in a diabetic coma after eating his way to 181kg (400 pounds).

It takes a certain type to be handed a shot at continued fame, fortune, glamour and admiration and to react with “double guacamole on that please”.

They might be able to get away with an occasional headbutt and below the belt shot, but boxers can never cheat the scales. Ruiz’s numbers were ugly. For his rematch against Joshua he tipped he scales at 288 pounds (130kg), more than 7kg heavier than the first contest, when he at least had the excuse of having taken the fight at short notice.

That number was also a whopping 33 pounds (15kg) heavier than Ruiz clocked-in at for his fight with Joseph Parker in December 2016.

Name a premium sporting event outside of sumo wrestling where a professional ‘athlete’ can turn up 15kg overweight and not be accused of taking the piss?

Even in this column’s social T20 cricket team, eyebrows would be raised.

If Ruiz did train, it was clearly with the aim of adding the title of first Mexican Santa Claus to that of first Mexican heavyweight champ.

That’s a real shame as the guy is tremendously talented. Even operating at the size of a luxury motor home, his hand speed remained lethal. Unfortunately, his speed of foot was more akin to that of a Galapagos tortoise.

Having shelled out $35 for the ‘fight’ on pay per view, it was a little disappointing to be served up a contest that wouldn’t have be out of place at a travelling circus. That, of course, made it perfect for a pop-up stadium in the Saudi sand dunes.

If there was one positive to come out of the fight, it was that the preposterous claim of fight commentator Adam Smith that Ruiz’s defeat by Parker was deeply questionable. That claim – and the requirement to fat check Ruiz’s weight for that contest prompted this column to go back and review Parker’s triumph round-by-round.

Would the passage of time, perhaps, have changed this column’s view that Parker was both a comfortable and deserved victor in Auckland?

Not at all.

Poring over the fight round by round, I scored the contest 166-112 (eight rounds to four). That tallied with the scorecard of the neutral British expert analyst Barry Jones on Box Nation’s coverage. Two of the judges scored it 115-113 to Parker (making one round where our views differed), while the other scored in 114-114, handing Parker a majority decision win.

Interestingly, SKY NZ fight caller and Sportsroom contributor Mike Angove scored the fight a draw. Lead SKY commentator Bob Sheridan had Parker down two rounds with three to go but winning by a round at the end. That was odd, given 10 and 11 were pretty dominant Ruiz rounds (two of the four I gave him alongside 2 and 3).

Whatever way you cut it, claiming Ruiz was robbed in Auckland is pure fantasy. The reality is that if Ruiz had turned up in Auckland in the shape he did at the weekend, Parker’s victory would have been even more dominant.

As usual in boxing, the question is where to next? No doubt Joshua will once again be eyeing unification with Deontay Wilder. Tyson Fury insists an all-British showdown with Joshua won’t happen under his existing five-fight $NZ160m ESPN contract as it mandates that all of his fights take place in the U.S. - so we can scratch that as a possibility.

Having had just one fight in a 2019 that won’t be hard to forget, Parker needs to get back in the ring against pretty much anyone in early 2020 and then stay busy if he is to even feature in the conversation.

As for Ruiz – who banked a decent $NZ19.7m purse despite being defeated by victory well before he stepped in the ring – the next time he hears a bell it will almost certainly be the a waitress picking up his order at the café of his local diner.

Let’s just hope he doesn’t end up like Douglas, waking up in hospital after three days at death’s door and thinking: "I almost lost my freaking life over this silly shit.”

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