Despite (or perhaps because of?) the expectations, huge upsets shake the sporting world every now and then. And behind every major upset is an underdog—the hero that claims their moment of glory.
Here are a few of the greatest sporting upsets of the last 10 years. The list is by no means complete, but each of these is a spectacular story of favourites getting crushed and being out of the odds even for great bookmakers and sports journalists such as FOXBet.
Japan vs South Africa–Rugby World Cup 2015
The dominant New Zealand All Blacks quite predictably won the Rugby World Cup in 2015. The only team that was thought to be able to challenge the favourites were South Africa, but it was not to be. The Springboks were to suffer one of the greatest upsets in the history of rugby.
South Africa drew Japan in Pool B, and the game was expected to be a walk in the park—South Africa would claim the victory and move on. This was not the case. Japan turned up, not just to play, but also to win, and they took the fight to the Springboks right from the start. The match turned into a very close encounter, with little to separate the two teams.
Captain Michael Leitch scored to make it 10-7 by the 30th minute, and by that point Japan were gaining confidence that they could pull off the win. The match went back and forth for much of the second half, with South Africa three points ahead as full time was drawing to a close.
After 80 minutes of nail-biting stuff, Karne Hesketh scored the winning try in the final moments of play. The Cherry Blossoms won the game 34-32, and the stadium erupted. That fateful day in Brighton had secured Japan one of their greatest sporting victories ever on the world stage—a win so legendary that it is now being made into a film.
Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz
When we think of boxing upsets, Buster Douglas and Mike Tyson is probably the first that comes to mind. Tyson was 23 years young, at the top of his game, and was tearing through opponents with unmatched intensity. He was the clear favourite to beat the mid-ranked Douglas, and many expected an early knockout. After an epic 10-round battle, Douglas KO’d Tyson, and the world stood in shock.
A recent heavyweight battle may have caused just as much of an upset, and it certainly makes for an equally enthralling underdog story. Anthony Joshua was expected to mark his U.S. debut with a solid victory over Andy Ruiz, yet the Mexican underdog took the fight right to the champ.
AJ delivered a stunning combo in the third round, yet Ruiz was right back in there to knock Joshua down twice before the bell rang to save him. Joshua never really seemed to recover, and looked unsteady on his feet. After patiently picking at the champ, Ruiz delivered killer blows to take the 7th round by stoppage and win the collection of heavyweight belts.
This was certainly not the U.S. debut that Joshua was hoping for. He will have to face Ruiz again in an immediate rematch if he wants to regain his status as the world’s greatest boxer. Maybe now others will be up for the challenge?
Leicester City Win the English Premier League
The 2015/16 season came as quite a shocker to casual and serious football fans alike. For the decade before, only Arsenal, Chelsea, City and United had won the EPL title; but it was Leicester City who came through in the end, beating the best to go 10 points clear of Arsenal and win the trophy.
At the start of the season, major bookmakers had Leicester City at odds of around 5,000-1 to win the EPL. The upset eventually resulted in the biggest payouts in UK sports betting history, to the total of £25 million.
Leicester had a much cheaper team; players like Vardy, Mahrez, Kante and N’Golo headed the pack, along with a mix of supposedly weaker players completing the squad. Yet, the team just gelled in a way that no other could, and it was this cohesion and teamwork that consistently won them the games needed to emerge victorious.
These results just go to show—never underestimate the underdog, and always expect the impossible, especially at the top levels of sport.