What does the future hold for Andy Ruiz Jr?
By Ziyad Jamal
Just under two years ago, under the lights of Madison Square Garden in the Big Apple, massive underdog heavyweight Andy Ruiz Jr stopped world champion Anthony Joshua in a spectacle which nobody saw coming. The American-born fighter of Mexican descent sent shockwaves around the boxing world as his seventh-round TKO victory over Joshua was one of the great sporting upsets.
Unfortunately for Ruiz Jr, his moment at the top was short lived as six months after his memorable night in New York City, he lost his belts in a rematch with Joshua in Saudi Arabia. Ruiz Jr was in poor physical shape for the second encounter as he struggled to get anywhere near to Joshua, who eased to a comfortable win on points.
"File:Andy Ruiz Jr.jpg" by JAYNE KAMIN-ONCEA is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
Criticism arrived Ruiz Jr’s way as many thought he had not taken the rematch seriously with his weight for the bout just over 20 stone compared to around 19 stone for the first fight. This was unacceptable considering it was a big world title fight. It is hard to argue with what people were saying about Ruiz Jr as the rematch took place six months after the first, so even if there was to be a relatively long celebration period, there was still enough time to put together a solid enough training camp for the rematch.
Ruiz Jr admitted himself that he did not give himself the best chance in the rematch due to his poorly put together training camp. The question is now whether he can return to the position he was at for the first Joshua fight, in regard to his desire and his physical conditioning. Nobody expects Ruiz Jr to have the muscles and athletic appearance of other boxers, but he must accept that the only way to boxing greatness is through hard work and dedication out of the ring.
Ruiz Jr has taken the necessary steps to get back to the level he was at for that win over Joshua and possibly even eclipse that. He has moved on from previous trainer Manny Robles and has teamed up with Eddy Reynoso, also the trainer of boxing’s biggest star Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. With Reynoso’s experience of preparing and guiding Canelo through multiple world title fights, Ruiz Jr is in perfect hands to have a successful future. Ruiz Jr has also dropped a significant amount of weight losing roughly 20lbs whilst building more muscle.
Ruiz Jr’s strengths lie with his punching power, which is devastating, as Joshua found out in their first bout. He is never going to out-box his opponent and be tricky and slick around the ring. Therefore, he needs to make sure his fitness and stamina levels are similar to the elite fighters. This is because he needs to be able to keep his engine going into the final rounds of fights as anything is possible at that stage and he has the punch power to knock out any heavyweight.
Ruiz Jr is set to face Chris Arreola in a comeback fight this April, which would make it 16 months since he last fought in Saudi Arabia against Joshua. With heavyweight kings Joshua and Tyson Fury looking to finally meet this year, and contenders Deontay Wilder and Dillian Whyte looking to bounce back from defeats, there is plenty going on in the division.
Ruiz Jr should feel he still has something to offer to the boxing world and more specifically the heavyweight division, as anyone that possesses the pure power he does is always going to be an exciting draw to fans and be part of entertaining contests.