Battle of Underdog Heavyweight Ruiz vs Douglas Would Make For Fascinating Fight

November 15, 2023
6 months

Battles between world heavyweight boxing champions are usually seen as the battle of titans. Seeing Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman, Mike Tyson vs. Lennox Lewis, and countless others featuring world class fighters that people won’t forget. But not every heavyweight challenger resonates in the annals of history.

Sometimes, though, there are flashes in the pan that break through briefly before burning out. Andy Ruiz Jr. caused one of the most recent shocking title changes in recent boxing history. Ruiz scored a seventh-round TKO over previously undefeated Anthony Joshua to grab the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight titles.

Many boxing news sites will also point to another heavyweight, James “Buster” Douglas, who sent shockwaves through the boxing world. Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson in Japan in February 1990 to become the undisputed heavyweight champion. While both men were briefly on top of the boxing world, neither were able to defend their titles.

While Ruiz is still active and his story isn’t written, Douglas never captured his previous glory. Here’s a look at both men and how things would go if they fought.

Douglas Was More Than a Tune-Up

There were no signs that Douglas had serious chances to beat Tyson at the Tokyo Dome. Many major newspapers didn’t send reporters because they saw the bout as a tune-up before he fought Evander Holyfield in a superfight. Famously, Tyson was set as a 42 to 1 favorite. Tyson’s corner was so confident he would win that they didn’t bring an enswell, a device that helps prevent boxers from swelling up.

Before fighting Tyson in February 1990, Douglas had only had one title fight for a world championship. His May 1987 fight with Tony Tucker for the IBF crown ended in major disappointment for Douglas. He was knocked out in the 10th round in Las Vegas.

But 23 days before the fight, Douglas’ mom died of a stroke. Douglas trained even harder. Utilizing that training, plus a 12-inch reach advantage, Douglas dominated from the outset. Douglas’ efficient punching had Tyson’s left eye swelling shut. In the eighth round, Douglas survived a Tyson uppercut by beating the count. While video review showed he was given extra time to recover, Tyson would receive a similar long count later in the fight. Douglas would end up flooring Tyson in the 10th round to claim the win.

Douglas’ Decline Was Quick

But unfortunately, online boxing news shows that Douglas’ time on top was short-lived. In his fight title defense against Evander Holyfield, Douglas was knocked out in the third round. While Douglas would go on a six-fight win streak following the loss, he never had a chance to rematch any of the top fighters.

Douglas would challenge for the vacant IBA heavyweight championship in 1998 but lost to Lou Savarese by knockout in the first round. Douglas retired with a career record of 38-6. He won 25 of his career fights by knockout.

Ruiz Volunteered for Joshua Fight

Ruiz knows a large part of prizefighting comes from having good marketing. Joshua needed an opponent for his debut in the United States, fighting at Madison Square Garden. Originally, Joshua was slated to fight Jarrell Holmes.

But Holmes couldn’t behave in the buildup to the fight. He failed three drug tests. That left Joshua needing an opponent on 30 days’ notice. While Dylan Whyte desperately wanted another shot at Joshua, Joshua’s team went in another direction. Joshua boxing news showed they were hoping to set up a megafight against one of the other top heavyweights, Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury, following a win in this fight.

Ruiz put his name in the basket and was chosen as a suitable replacement.

Missed Opportunity drove Ruiz

Taking on an undefeated prospect in Joshua wasn’t something many thought was wise for Ruiz. He had just fought in April 2019 and was now turning around two months after beating Alexander Dimitrenko when Dimitrenko retired on his stool after the fifth round. But Ruiz remembered what happened in the aftermath of his fight with Joseph Parker.

Ruiz battled Parker for the WBO heavyweight title in 2016. The fight was close enough that some people felt Ruiz won, and the fight was ruled a majority decision win for Parker. Despite Ruiz’s attempts at a rematch, he never got one. The loss to Parker was the first for Ruiz in his career.

When Ruiz and Joshua met, at first, the short-notice fight didn’t seem like a good decision. Joshua knocked Ruiz down for the first time in his career in round three. But Ruiz got up and continued to pressure Joshua.

In the seventh round, Ruiz’s power again bothered Joshua. He would drop Joshua twice in the seventh round, which was the fourth and fifth time in the fight. The referee stopped the bout to make Ruiz the first-ever Mexican-American heavyweight champion.

Ruiz, who is now 35-2, took a loss in the rematch. Joshua put on a boxing clinic. Two judges scored the fight in his favor 118-110, while the third scored it 119-109.

Who Would Have Won?

Ruiz is 6-foot-3 with a 74-inch reach, while Douglas is 6-4 ½ with an 83-inch reach. Douglas famously made use of his reach to build up behind a strong jab and take down Tyson. But that was a special circumstance where Douglas had extra motivation.

Ruiz has a strong chin and has taken on some of the top heavyweights of his era. While Ruiz is still ranked in the top 10 of active heavyweights, he hasn’t been able to secure another big fight against a top contender. While there are rumors that he and Wilder may fight, nothing has materialized yet.

The bout between Douglas and Ruiz would likely rely on how motivated Douglas was for the fight. Ruiz has impressive wins on his resume and more durability. Douglas took some head-scratching losses and wasn’t always consistent. In this case, Ruiz would likely eke out a close decision.

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