Anthony Joshua has suffered the first defeat of his professional career in a shock loss to Andy Ruiz Jr at Madison Square Garden.
Making his US debut at one of boxing’s hallowed venues, Joshua was stunned by the unfancied Ruiz, who sent the Briton to the mat four times en route to becoming the new IBF, WBA (Super) and WBO champion in front of a stunned New York crowd.
Ruiz had taken the fight on less than six weeks’ notice following Jarrell Miller’s failed drugs test in what was his second crack at world title gold, having fallen short against Joseph Parker in his only professional defeat.
He was dropped by Joshua early in the third round but responded emphatically, dropping the champion twice with the Olympic champion never truly recovering.
Joshua came forward with another flurry in the seventh round but again, left himself open with Ruiz capitalising magnificently – sending the champion down for the third time in the contest.
Moments later, he was down again, leaving the surreal image of Joshua on all fours spitting his gumshield out, bereft of ideas and confidence.
Referee Mike Griffin stepped in to end the contest before more damage was done.
Derided for his unconventional physique, Ruiz produced a performance that will send shock waves through the sport. A rematch clause means the two will likely meet again later this year.
For now, Joshua joins the likes of Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson in the fraternity of once-dominant champions to suffer stunning defeats.