When Andy Ruiz Jr. signed with Al Haymon in 2018, eyebrows got initially raised. But Al being Al, Mr. Haymon had a plan to pit the Mexican-American against Deontay Wilder eventually.
Little did the Premier Boxing Champions boss know that he would have an undisputed heavyweight title clash fall in his lap within a year.
Called in at late notice to fight Anthony Joshua in what got billed as the Briton’s attempt to crack America, Ruiz pummeled the unified ruler and took his belts.
Through a cruel twist of fate, Haymon had everything on offer in the world’s glamor division. There was one problem. He could do nothing about it.
Ruiz came away from Madison Square Garden a four-belt title-holder. Deontay Wilder had the only other version in the World Boxing Council’s coveted green and gold strap.
After a draw with Tyson Fury the previous December, Wilder had time on his hands. His former opponent then concentrated on losing more weight accumulated from his three-year hiatus and subsequently went through the first two fights of his new Top Rank contract without Wilder.
Joshua went back to the UK with his tail between his legs. However, AJ did one thing that would stop Haymon’s plans for putting together a substantial-top division battle for the undisputed championship.
The 2012 Olympic gold medalist had a clause inserted in the contract stipulating that he got the first crack of Ruiz’s new status. Nobody else could intervene. Had Haymon attempted to pit Ruiz against Wilder in the fall of 2019, Joshua’s lawyers would have begun proceedings to regain the belts.
Under those terms, Ruiz would forfeit the straps if he didn’t fight Joshua. And despite his best efforts to stay out of the ring entirely and party, “The Destroyer” eventually had to agree.
A second clause also made it mandatory that Joshua got his shot that same year, meaning no matter what shape Ruiz was in (a bad one), he had to defend the titles or give them up.
We all know what happened there.
Therefore, in a nutshell, Haymon had all the power but was utterly powerless to make the fight.
“If made, it would have been America’s first undisputed heavyweight title match between two American heavyweights (one of Mexican descent) since Evander Holyfield versus Riddick Bowe.
Sadly, it wasn’t to be.
Ruiz then lost to Joshua when completely unfit. Unthinkably, Haymon then dropped the other title to the other side of the pond when Tyson Fury battered Wilder in Las Vegas last year.
As WBN reported first, the match-up was on this year’s schedule if Tyson Fury had negated on a trilogy with Wilder. Haymon had the Pay Per View on the cards for the last quarter of 2021.
Who knows how those plans will develop until Fury vs. Wilder III is finally in the books this month?
But it could be some time before the US gets that close to an undisputed heavyweight title match-up again. In years down the line, they may still tell the tale of what might have been for Ruiz vs. Wilder.