Ahead of his return on May 1 against Chris Arreola (38-6-1, 2 NC), former heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr (33-2) believes he owes those who supported him before and after losing handily to Anthony Joshua in their rematch to deliver on his potential, as his career resurgence begins.
Perspective as ruiz reflects and knows he let himself down
It has 11.8 million views and counting, is Sky Sports Boxing’s third-most watched video of all-time and has an air of devious overexaggeration to its title but the message was clear as day:
Joshua: “I took my L, I bounced back. Anyone can do it, life’s a rollercoaster. Andy, are you ready to retire?”
Ruiz Jr: “No, we’re doing the trilogy baby, I want the third fight. Third fight. Who wants to see the third fight?” – as the crowd cheers loudly in agreement.
Well, Ruiz’s road to redemption begins next weekend at the Dignity Health Sports Park in California, as the 31-year-old makes his return after a 17-month absence against Arreola.
If he’s to get the trilogy he clearly craves at some stage in future, plenty of work lies ahead after losing rather decisively on that fateful night in Saudi Arabia – showing up even heavier than his stunning night six months prior before falling victim to Joshua’s tactical boxing display.
Many boxing fans have heavily criticised the decision to place Ruiz-Arreola as the headliner on a Fox Sports PPV, especially as both are seemingly dwindling heavyweights coming off 2019 defeats and not box office worthy, but there’s a clear plan in place with Ruiz going forward.
During a virtual press conference recently, Ruiz spoke about how his trainer Eddy Reynoso motivated him before they struck up a partnership in 2020.
He said he wants to do whatever it takes to become a two-time heavyweight champion of the world, after Reynoso asked him whether he was committed to change or happy to continue in the same way he’d been ambling along.
“I was like, you know what? I’m gonna give all the discipline that I have, every sacrifice, to prove myself and my fans, because I feel I let a lot of people down.
I’m more motivated than ever and having Eddy right here on my side, working together, changing all the stuff that I didn’t do [before], it just feels good.”
Reynoso’s world-class stable of fighters includes four-weight world champion Canelo Alvarez (55-1-2), two-weight world champion Oscar Valdez (29-0) and lightweight contender Ryan Garcia (21-0), so there is no shortage of quality personnel for Ruiz to surround himself with in the gym.
UPDATE – Saturday, April 24:
Reynoso, Ruiz’s trainer, stressed the importance of discipline and mentality for Andy going forward while sharing his belief that he’ll eventually become a two-time world champion:
“The talent, intelligence has always been there for Andy – it’s a pleasure to work with him, he’s done everything I’ve asked of him so far. I’m really excited for this fight – you’re going to see a new Andy Ruiz physically and mentally. You’ll see him become champion again, I can’t wait for this step on May 1.”
Ruiz intends to weigh no heavier than 255 pounds vs. Arreola, having tipped the scales at 283.5 during the December 2019 rematch with Joshua – 15.5 pounds heavier than his June victory.
Arreola back again, relishing underdog role
Arreola last fought in August 2019, four months earlier than Ruiz, losing via UD (118-110, 117-111 x 2) against Poland’s Adam Kownacki (20-1, 15 KOs) – continuing through an injured left hand.
Pre-fight, he guaranteed he would retire with another defeat but refused to close the door afterwards. That hesitancy has proved key now that he’s returning from another long layoff, having turned 40 last month and ready for another legacy fight as his career winds down.
August 2019: “I gave it my all this fight, really let it all hang out even after breaking my hand and kept fighting because I believed I could win. I need some time off to figure this out – I don’t know if I can go through this again.”
April 2021: “I’m ready for this, been waiting for four or five months. This one is going to be a barnburner for sure, important for my legacy. I feel great, working hard for months and know how crucial this fight is for my career.”
During an interview with iFL TV, promoter Eddie Hearn had this to say on Ruiz’s return and more:
“He looks half the size [of the first Joshua fight]. He looks great! I think he’ll beat pretty much every heavyweight out there, besides [Tyson] Fury, Joshua.
Dillian Whyte can beat him, [Oleksandr] Usyk and [Deontay] Wilder? No. He’s going to spank Arreola in a couple of rounds and hope he fights Dillian or Wilder, can’t wait to see him back, an exciting addition to the division.”
We’ll see if Hearn’s comments are proven true, but there are multiple intriguing fights to be made for Ruiz – like Whyte and former WBC title-holder Wilder – if he is to successfully reinvigorate a career that has looked ominous given his indiscipline and questions over effort.
Pictures source: Ryan Hafey / Haymon Boxing unless stated