Anthony Joshua’s Upset Loss to Andy Ruiz Scrambles Heavyweight Boxing


He wanted to speak to reporters, he said, “to show that we don’t fold, we stand strong at all times. I will address the situation that happened tonight, and then we move forward, onto the next.”

The larger question is what’s next for a heavyweight division that boxing enthusiasts in recent months had been hyping as on the brink of a renaissance after roughly a decade and a half slumber. Boxing has always craved an exciting heavyweight division because, with its high potential for thrilling knockouts, it has the best chance to attract mass appeal.

After Tyson, Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield left the sport, the brothers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, who fought out of Ukraine, held a grip on the division. Despite their deft talents in the ring, their fighting styles did not have mainstream appeal, and they lacked the types of compelling rivalries that generate broad interest.

The emergence of Joshua, Wilder and Tyson Fury of Britain — three men with skills and captivating personalities, and with drama among them — seemed to present the kind of intrigue and marketability that would attract fans.

Although Ruiz’s upset dampened, for now, some of the hype of Joshua potentially fighting Wilder or Fury, some speculated that it might only add to the allure of the division.

“Any outcome is possible when the top guys fight,” said Evan Rutkowski, a former HBO sports marketing executive and host of Fistianados, a podcast about the business of boxing. “There’s three, maybe four, that could be either elite talents or potentially generational talents. But they all have weaknesses, which is what makes it all very exciting.”

Ruiz may have nudged himself into the conversation of elite heavyweights, and in doing so he gives the Mexican fan base — which is rabid for the sport — a reason to show interest in the division. After the fight, Ruiz, who was born and raised in Imperial, Calif., along the Mexican border, strolled into the news conference wearing a Knicks jersey and a nonstop grin. He spoke with a nonchalant glee.



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