Exclusive: Andy Ruiz Jr. Speaks

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The new unified heavyweight champion discusses his newfound fame after Saturday's thrilling upset victory over Anthony Joshua.

The grill was sizzling, and the cooks were attentive to the oncoming orders when their steaming worlds took a slight turn. They couldn’t help but notice. Albert’s Taco Shop, in Pico Rivera, California, had a special guest at around 1 a.m. Monday morning.

About 48 hours earlier, they watched him shock the world. Now, they were cooking tacos for world heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr.

“They kept staring at me, and staring me, and they were like, ‘Man, is it you, is it really you?’” Ruiz recalled. “At first, I didn’t want to say, yes, because I’m still really getting used to all of this. But the cooks and everyone in there recognized me, and it was crazy, man. Everyone stopped cooking, and everyone in the restaurant stopped and wanted to take pictures with me.

“It was pretty crazy. I still have to get used to all of this attention.”

 It’s a far, far different landscape than when Anthony Joshua’s fanatic British fans chanted at Ruiz during the Friday weigh-in, “Who are ya? You fat bastard!”

They know Andy Ruiz Jr. now.

The boxing world certainly knows Andy Ruiz Jr. now.

The sports world knows Andy Ruiz Jr. now.

And Tuesday night, the world will know, when Ruiz is a guest on the Jimmy Kimmel show.

That’s what happens when you pull off a James “Buster” Douglas-esque type of upset. Ruiz Jr. (33-1, 22 KOs) stopped the previously unbeaten Anthony Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) at 1:27 of the seventh round Saturday night, before a sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden.

Ruiz, 29, wrested the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight world championship titles away from Joshua, spoiling his American debut.

No one expected Ruiz to win, save for Ruiz, his family and his team. No one, maybe not even Ruiz himself, expected “Destroyer” to knock down a human Adonis, like the chiseled 6-foot-6, 248-pound Joshua and make him taste canvas four times, twice in the third and twice in the defining seventh round.

Stands of Joshua paraphernalia adorned sections of MSG, with hardly a mention of Ruiz. Joshua’s brand filled Times Square’s bright lights.

The fight was supposed to be Joshua’s U.S. coming-out party.

 Instead, it wound up being Ruiz’s world debut—and his history-making moment as the first Mexican heavyweight world champion.

Google Andy Ruiz Jr. and 81,600,000 results come up—mostly about the pudgy 6-foot-2, 268-pound boxer, who has more in common with the everyman grunting and grinding under a hard hat than the sculpted, Greek god Joshua.

“It is weird, I have to get a little used to this, where everywhere I go, people know me,” the humble Ruiz said. “I was unpacking my car and everyone that came by was saying, ‘Hey champ, great job champ!’ I’ve been stopped on the street. I’ve been stopped everywhere I go. I was putting some stuff in my car yesterday and people just driving by were yelling, ‘Hey champ, is that you champ.’

“People were coming out of their homes to take pictures with me. I’ll be honest, I love it. I’m someone who’s been doubted my whole life. No one thought I was going to beat (Joshua). Let’s be honest, no one. But man, this whole thing has been a blessing and incredible.”

I still have to get used to all of this attention. Unified World Heavyweight Champion - Andy Ruiz Jr.

Ruiz said he hasn’t had too much time to decompress and have this whole life-changing experience sink in.

“It’s still sinking in and I still haven’t had a chance to see my kids,” said Ruiz, who has five children, three boys and two girls, ranging in age from 10 to 1. “We’ve been going from one camp, to the next, from April 20, to June 1. I haven’t had the chance to lay down at home, see my wife and see my kids in person. I’m been constantly on the road.

“It’s been tiring. But it’s a blessing. I want to take advantage of this as much as I can. This is really about David beating Goliath. My whole life I’ve had people call me ‘fat’ and I’ve had the doubters and that’s okay. This has always been my dream. I showed what I could do on June 1. Everything paid off.”

Even after Ruiz won, some still took shots at him.

On Monday, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith tweeted: “OMG! OMG! I cannot believe this S$&@$! Anthony Joshua — holder of 3 belts, gets TKO’d by Butter Bean.......I mean some dude named Andy Ruiz JR. What a damn disgrace. Joshua looked completely gassed! More fatigued than hurt! Now how in the Hell did you let that happen? How?

“I’m sick over this. For myself! For fight fans. And especially for Deontay Wilder — who should’ve been the one administering this TKO. I’m so freakin disgusted right now!

“I watched the fight 3x. Look, Ruiz is good. Solid boxer. Fast hands. But everyone’s missing the point: THE FIGHT we were all waiting for — Wilder vs. Joshua — is officially ruined. No one with sense believes Joshua has a chance vs him now, even if he goes back and beats Ruiz.”

Ruiz responded by tweeting back to Smith: “I encourage you to do your research before insulting my career. I know boxing isn’t your lane but if you are gonna talk about boxing please study and know what you are saying.”

Ruiz was a late substitute who took the fight in late April after Joshua’s original opponent, Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, was disqualified after failing multiple pre-fight drug tests.

Next Monday, Ruiz will be flown into Mexico City, where a nation will show their love, and he will be received by Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

“When I was walking to the ring Saturday night, everyone was booing me,” Ruiz recalled. “Once I won, they were cheering for me. Everyone is cheering for me. You’re talking to someone who used to be laughed at when I was younger. It made me stronger. I can laugh. And I think I can stop (Joshua) again.”

Any doubters now?

For more on Andy Ruiz Jr., check out his fighter page. 

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