Anthony Olufemi Joshua and the Mexican slugger

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For the British-Nigerian boxer, it was going to be just another day in the office. He was a world heavyweight champion with twenty-two victories under his belt, many of them achieved by knocking his opponent flat on the canvas. This opponent was a virtual nobody, shooed in at the last moment because the real opponent who had been scheduled to fight the champ had failed a drug test.

Nobody, it seemed, had heard of the man, Andre Ruiz, or cared much about him. It was enough to know that he was a Mexican-American who had jumped at the chance of stepping into the ring with a master who held three World Heavyweight belts and was itching to add the fourth to make his suzraignty complete. For the champion, it was going to be his introduction to America, the real home of world heavyweight boxing. He would, for the first time in his career, be fighting in Madison Square garden, a venue where the greats of boxing – Mohammed Ali, Joe Frazier, even Mark Tyson had walked onto the ring in the klieg lights to the bloodthirsty braying of thousands of fans. There they had enacted boxing duels that were the stuff of legend.

There he was – handsome, voluble, winsome, the man who had beaten everybody in sight. For his exertion, on this evening, he would be earning twenty million pounds sterling – a handsome purse, far more than even the great Mohammed Ali had won for ‘the rumble in the jungle’.

Andres Ponce Ruiz Jr was a stocky, paunchy man with unsightly tattoos all over his body. He looked ugly and mean. He was born in 1989 in California, USA, of Mexican immigrant parents. He began professional boxing ten years ago. He had had … Read More...