Anthony Joshua’s shock defeat by Andy Ruiz Jnr has blown heavyweight division wide open
Anthony Joshua was sitting pretty atop the heavyweight throne with just one more belt in line of his tunnel-like gaze.
The route, though it had been protracted and exasperating up until this point, was a clear one: all roads must lead to Deontay Wilder. Those were simpler times.
That was before Andy Ruiz Jnr came into the picture and detonated a bomb to significantly alter the landscape of the heavyweight division.
Andy Ruiz Jnr has blown heavyweight division wide open after his win over Anthony Joshua
Shocking the world, Ruiz Jnr pummelled Joshua into submission in seven rounds to become the first Mexican heavyweight world champion, capturing the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO titles and taking his place as the best in the division in the process.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed in the moments afterwards their intent to enforce an immediate rematch set for either November or December time, to possibly take place in the UK.
A clause was inserted in the initial fight contract, but the ball is firmly in Ruiz Jnr’s court with mandatory fights looming.
The Mexican floored Joshua four times on route to a shock seventh-round stoppage victory
The Mexican is already facing the possibility of being stripped by the IBF should he agree to a rematch with Joshua instead of facing mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev.
If Ruiz is called to fight the Bulgarian and turns it down in favour of a rematch with Joshua, that could mean a potential clash between Pulev and Agit Kabayel for the vacant IBF belt.
There is also the prospect of Ruiz Jnr losing another one of his four world titles with his WBO mandatory due in September.
Plans of a rematch may be scuppered with Ruiz set to be called by the IBF to face Kubrat Pulev
Oleksandr Usyk is expected to be called as the WBO No 1 ranked fighter, having moved up to heavyweight as their cruiserweight champion.
If Ruiz is forced to vacate that title as well, it could see a possible clash between Usyk and current WBO No 1 Dillian Whyte – providing he beats Oscar Rivas on July 20 – fight for the title.
The only other belt in the division, the WBC, is held by Wilder, who is first scheduled to face Luiz Ortiz before a pre-arranged rematch with Tyson Fury in 2020 – meaning any chances of a fight for the undisputed heavyweight crown remain non-existent.
Oleksandr Usyk is also expected to be called as Ruiz’s WBO mandatory after moving up
Despite some of the confusion, Hearn is adamant the governing bodies will not interfere with Joshua’s rematch against Ruiz and that all four belts will again be up for grabs.
‘The rematch takes precedence over the belts,’ Hearn said in the early hours of Sunday morning. ‘The next mandatory is the WBO, and I’ve already spoken to Paco Valcarcel (WBO president), who would have no issues with the rematch.
‘The rematch, every belt will be on the line. Andy has the chance to defend his titles and go on in fights with Wilder and Fury, but for us, AJ will want to win his belts back, but he’ll want to beat Andy Ruiz. I believe every one of those belts will be on the line.’
Eddie Hearn believes Ruiz will agree to a rematch and that all four belts will again be on the line
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