When on June 1, 2019, at Madison Square Garden, New York City, Anthony Joshua, the hitherto undefeated unified WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight champion, lost to Andy Ruiz Jr, an underdog, many sports pundits and fans alike had genuine reasons to be disappointed. Andy defeated AJ via a technical knockout in the seventh round, ending Joshua’s undefeated record and becoming the new unified heavyweight champion. The fight is considered one of the biggest upsets in boxing history, drawing parallels between Mike Tyson vs. Buster Douglas in 1990 and Lennox Lewis vs. Hassim Rahman in 2001.
Many disappointed fans, on the other hand, believe the match was staged, doubting that AJ could lose to an underdog at the seventh round with “clear eyes”. Tempers began to cool when on August 8, it was announced that Joshua will get his rematch against Ruiz for the same titles. The rematch finally took place on 7 December in Diriyah, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Al-Turaif, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Joshua reclaimed his heavyweight titles after defeating Ruiz via unanimous decision, returning his lost glory and satiating his worried fans.
The lesson that can be gleaned from this whole saga is that tables turn every now and then but it is only a determined and disciplined person that can control the speed with which his or her own table turns. History is replete with stories of great men and women who lost out on things for which their glories rest on; official positions, thrones, ranks, medals, etc. the most recent of them is Tiger Woods, but that is a story for another day. When AJ lost his belts, a lot of us were scared that he may never reclaim them, as Ruiz has shown to have mastered AJ’s tactics and appears ready to stand his grounds and rock the belts. But AJ dispelled our fears, assuring us that he would reclaim them. He started his journey by paying a visit to his Makoko roots in Nigeria, where he saw the worries on our faces, where he was made more humane to understand that those belts not only belong to him, but all of us; his fans, family, Nigeria, Britain and indeed, all lovers of boxing who enjoy seeing him on those belts. After his visit, he went back to the drawing table, to reassess himself, in order to see where the boat started sinking. The rest is now history but the lessons are abiding – one of which is steadfastness and discipline, qualities for which a committed sportsman or woman is known.
In all, AJ’s win is Nigeria’s win once again, by the virtues of shared history, heritage and ancestry. We can see the Can-Do spirit of the Nigerian man in all of this, that never-say-die spirit which sees to our continuous rising to stardom and economic emancipation despite the man-made odds that bestride our journeys to emancipation.
We at Tush Magazine join many other Nigerians to wish the world heavyweight a weighty congratulation. We are all partakers in the fallouts of this victory. Toast to more belts.
This article was written by Ifesinachi Nwadike