The narrative was ready-made. It felt so right. The button was right there, so why not smash it?
"We all overrated Anthony Joshua. He was never a true champ. He's so fraudulent, it's like if Enron and Bernie Madoff had twins and called them the Lehman Brothers."
And hey, blasting the chiseled (and undefeated) AJ for getting epically embarrassed by the equally unsung and rotund Andy Ruiz Jr. makes all the sense in the world. His was an authentically stunning upset that will be dissected and marveled over for years. But amid all the explosive recriminations and memes and cackling, we cannot allow the real lede to become buried here:
We just witnessed the birth of an irrepressible star with more heart inside his chest than Snickers capacity inside his suddenly iconic gut. Andy Ruiz is a sensation. He is inimitable. He is magical.
And it is our job as fight fans to love him half to death.
Saturday night at Madison Square Garden was supposed to be the big moment in which Joshua, a unified heavyweight champ who had never fought outside his native Britain, finally announced himself to America with a resounding victory. Given fellow champ Deontay Wilder's bang-bang deathblow across the river in Brooklyn just two weeks earlier, such an outcome was not optional for the sake of his reputation.
Instead, Ruiz took AJ's moment and swallowed it whole like it was a care package from the Mars company.
I dare you to watch the California-born "Mexican Rocky" celebrating after his TKO win was declared in Round 7 and feel nothing. I dare you to see the way he beamed during post-fight interviews and was utterly simpatico with a gracious Joshua afterward and not want to bear-hug the dude, sweat and all. I dare you to notice that the cover image on his Twitter account is literally a giant low-resolution Snickers bar and not suddenly believe that our world has a chance to be something other than self-replenishing chaos.
(Also, that Twitter account of his isn't even verified, by the way. He really is just like us!)
Ruiz may very well have staying power in the heavyweight division -- his impressive hand speed belied his cartoonish physical dimensions, and he was far fresher than his strikingly dazed, out-of-sorts opponent as the fight entered the middle rounds. What his very real height and reach disadvantage would mean against legit giants like Wilder or Tyson Fury is a different question -- AJ famously fights smaller than he is, after all -- but for now, he's the champ. He's the new hotness. There is nobody else like him, full stop.
And no matter how gleeful we might be trashing Joshua on the internet for his historic failure on the sport's biggest stage, we ought to save our energy for what's really the most important takewaway from a consequential night in New York City: thanking the fight gods for introducing us to a fabulously round man who reminded us anew precisely why America has for so long had a special kind of romance with the heavyweight division.