Boxing underdog comes out swinging

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian
www.sunlive.co.nz

There is a special place in the hearts of most sports fans for the underdog - especially when they cause a massive upset, like Andy Ruiz Jnr winning the World heavyweight title over the weekend.

The Mexican-American boxer entered the ring at the temple of boxing at Madison Square Garden in New York, a despised 30-1 outsider, given no chance by the boxing media against World Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.

The 2012 Olympic champion brought to the ring an undefeated professional record and four versions of the World title.

By contrast, Ruiz would have looked more at home at a pie eating contest against the chiseled Anthony Joshua.

An overused cliché in boxing is that an underdog has a punchers chance of victory which, in this case, came to fruition.

Knock downs by both boxers in round three was just the prelude to Ruiz decking the champion twice in the seventh round, before the referee waved the bout over in the challengers favour.

Ruiz entered the ring with a 32-1 record, with his sole defeat administered by our own Joseph Parker, in their WBO World Heavyweight title fight in Auckland, December 2016.

While his record may have looked fairly impressive, his victories were against mainly no-names, earning his title shot as a late substitute when Joshua's original opponent withdrew.

Boxing has had its share of big upsets.

In 1978, Leon Spinks - who was having just his seventh professional contest - beat arguably the greatest boxer of all time in Muhammad Ali.

However, the Spinks victory was well and truly reversed in the rematch. Forty-five-year-old George Foreman came from a long layoff to take a version of the heavyweight title from Michael Moorer in 1994.

The biggest upset in boxing was provided in 1990 when Buster Douglas destroyed the seemingly unbeatable Mike Tyson.

Like Andy Ruiz, Douglas was a long-odds outsider, when he pole axed Tyson to claim the unified Heavyweight championship of the world.

Turning to Mr Google to find major upsets in international sport, shows that ESPN rates the USA ice-hockey defeat of the Soviet Republic at the 1980 Winter Olympics, as their number one pick of all-time sports upsets.

The Soviets had won five of the last six Olympic Gold Medals and were a team of hardened professional players against an American team of inexperienced amateurs, with the result sending shock waves around world sport.

Rugby has also given us its share of David defeating Goliath, with no better example than the last Rugby World Cup, where Japan defeated South Africa.

The Springboks were unbackable at 500-1 on, which mattered little to Japan who triumphed 34-32 to stun the rugby world.

Closer to home Thames Valley gave the touring Australian rugby team a blood nose at Te Aroha in 1962.

Few of us that were at the Rotorua International Stadium in 1982, will forget the Bay of Plenty steam-rolling of Australia by 40 points to 16. What made the upset more remarkable, was that the Bay went into the game without a win in five NPC matches, before squaring off with the Aussie's.

While Bangladesh (TAB odds 101-1) and Afghanistan (101-1) have little chance of winning the current ICC Cricket World Cup, many sports fans reserve a little hope for the underdogs, to get home against the more fancied teams to spice up the tournament.

P.S. Bangladesh has belied their underdog status at the CWC beating South Africa by 21 runs on the fourth day of the tournament. 



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