Andy Ruiz Jnr and Samoa's new world champion Don Opeloge
Let’s face it. No one wants life to be predictable, stuffy and boring. Which is precisely what the world heavyweight division in boxing had become with Anthony Joshua so dominant that everybody thought he was Mr. Untouchable.
Well that was until last Sunday when Andy Ruiz Jnr, a boxer repeatedly called a “fat man” by pundits and unmistakably the undisputed underdog, did the unthinkable.
Who would have thought it possible? Keep in mind that Ruiz Jnr, who has since become known as the Mexican Rocky, was the substitute for another boxer who was done for doping. It means he wasn’t even suppose to be there but they threw him in there thinking that he was just going to be another bum to hit the deck in the continuation of Joshua’s journey.
There is no doubt that for Anthony Joshua, who has demolished anything and everything before him in his journey this far, he probably wasn’t thinking too much about Ruiz. Contrary to the scripted pre-fight talks where Joshua is required to talk up his opponent in a bid to make the fight a bit more interesting, deep down inside, the Brit probably never imagined the outcome we now have.
If he didn’t, we don’t blame him. Prior to the fight and what happened, very few people would have rated Ruiz.
In this part of the world, while his loss to Lupesoliai Joseph Parker for the W.B.O. title two years ago was controversial, he did not come across as such a devastating puncher who could annihilate the machine we have come to know as Joshua.
But this is why we love sport. Nothing is guaranteed and strange things happen when we least expect it. Folks, for the good of boxing and sports in general, Ruiz Jnr’s victory will go down in history as perhaps the biggest and best upset of all time. The fat boy tore up the script at Madison Square Garden in New York on Sunday to rewrite boxing history, becoming the first Mexican heavyweight champion.
Ruiz though did more than just make his country and people proud. In his victory over Joshua, he inspired a whole generation of boxers and other people who see themselves as underdogs. Which is perhaps the most beautiful part about this development in professional boxing.
Dreams still really do come true.
“I want to thank God for giving me this victory, without him this wouldn’t be possible,” Ruiz said. “I just feel so good, man. This is what I have been dreaming about. This is what I have been working hard for. I can’t believe I just made my dreams come true. I just want to thank my team and my family. The sky is the limit, baby.”
The sky indeed is the limit. Ruiz Jr. not only shocked the world by knocking out Joshua, he now holds the majority of the world heavy boxing titles including the I.B.F., I.B.O., W.B.A. and the W.B.O. title he claimed he was robbed off against Lupesoliai.
What a wonderful story. This story is what life is all about. It is about someone who gets a chance, grabs it with both hands and makes the most of it. This story is definitely not predictable, stuffy and boring. Which should inspire a new generation of superstars, people who feel that perhaps they are not worthy, people whom have been written off by the world, just like how hardly anyone gave Ruiz a chance.
Now let’s be clear about this. One defeat should not signal the end of a fighter’s career. Joshua will come back and probably stronger than ever. For his benefit, he probably needed what happened on Sunday as a reminder he is not invincible.
Elsewhere, everybody else, including our very own Lupesoliai Parker, will be hoping to get a shot at Ruiz.
But Ruiz and his team now call all the shots and it’s fair to say he will not want to risk anything against anyone, including Lupesoliai. Our man is probably a fair bit down the ladder and might never get another shot at the title – as long as Ruiz has it.
How long will Ruiz reign? Who knows? It might not be long. Still, what he did last Sunday will be remembered forever and he will milk it for what it is worth. Good on him. Isn’t that what life is all about?
Closer to home, our sporting fraternity celebrated a huge achievement this week with Don Opeloge becoming Samoa’s first junior weightlifting World Champion. What an achievement.
On the front page of the newspaper you are reading, his father is talking about the family’s goal of winning more medals and possibly Samoa’s first gold at the Olympics. Well why not?
Nobody gave Don’s aunty, Ele Opeloge, a chance of winning an Olympic medal. Yet she rose from obscurity to write sporting history for this proud country by winning Samoa’s first Olympic medal. It’s fair to say that greatness runs in the Opeloge family blood for the sport of weightlifting.
With Don’s rise, there are exciting times ahead. Let’s wait and see.
On that note, have a joyous weekend Samoa. Don’t give up and never think lowly of yourself, you can do it, God bless!