Andy Ruiz Jr. became a huge part of boxing history in 2019, becoming the first Mexican Heavyweight champion of all time. For all the talk about him being a fluke, anyone watching his first fight with Anthony Joshua in June 2019, has to admit that he put on a commanding performance.
As a late replacement for Jarrel Miller, who failed drug tests, Andy Ruiz stepped in, and just once a month before the fight, on May 1st, Ruiz was confirmed as Joshua’s opponent.
Ruiz had the perfect gameplan going into the fight. He was aware of his own strengths, as well as Joshua’s flaws. He fought in a way that used his shorter stature to his advantage, he used great head movement and a lower stance to cut inside Joshua’s jab range, repeatedly, giving Joshua big problems with his flurries of varied punches at his trademark lighting speed.
His ‘stockier’ than stocky body seemed to do little in slowing him down, he was comfortable with it, moved well it, and could cut the ring down at will. His cardio, much questioned going into the fight, was much better than most people were expecting.
He showed a lot of heart and resolve, taking big shots from Joshua, getting dropped in round 3, and quickly getting up to command the rest of the fight. When I watched that fight, unlike many others around me, I saw a deserving and exciting champion.
Fast forward to their rematch in December 2019, just 6 months after he won the belt, the Ruiz we saw in the ring was unrecognizable. The Ruiz we saw in the rematch, was the Ruiz boxing fans thought they would see in the first fight. He was slow, his stamina was gone, he couldn’t move inside Joshua’s jab and straight. He got outboxed and rarely looked threatening. It was a huge and rapid fall from grace.
So, what has Ruiz done in the meantime?
Immediately following his defeat, Ruiz was quick to apologize to the boxing community for his performance. Not only in the ring, but as a champion in the months leading up to it. He was quick to admit that his new status got to his head, that he took his foot off the gas and enjoyed himself too much. Ruiz was openly apologetic to his team and trainer Manny Robles, who left the team shortly afterward, for his conduct.
Ruiz, however, was most apologetic to Mexico. Not just the boxing fans, literally the country herself. Ruiz felt that he hadn’t done his Mexican heritage proud and vowed to be Mexico’s Heavyweight champion again.
So, to make good on his promise, what has Andy Ruiz Jr. done since? Ruiz was quick to search for a new trainer, to replace Robles. His search seems to be nearing an end as recent news, and reports from both parties involved have confirmed interest, suggests that Ruiz may join forces with renowned trainer Eddy Reynoso.
As head trainer of Canelo Alvarez, Reynoso is obviously a very well qualified option, capable of creating dominant champions. The partnership would be a huge opportunity for Ruiz if he can match the level expected of him by Canelo’s team members.
It would make sense too, as the move would be a great way to get another talented boxer into the Reynoso stable, with more chance of putting Mexican champions into boxing’s history books.
While Ruiz has shown himself training hard on Instagram and talked openly about his renewed discipline and desire to right his wrongs, we’ve yet to see any big changes to his physique or training methods. With Canelo as a training partner, and hopefully Ruiz absorbing some of Canelo’s secrets to success, it could be the beginning of a new chapter for Ruiz.
It would certainly be an extremely interesting spanner in the works of the current Heavyweight division if Ruiz were to emerge as a more svelte and serious contender. A short, fast-handed, pressure fighter in this age of much taller out-boxers and KO artists. While unlikely, it is a thrilling proposition. With COVID-19 putting all fights on hold, Ruiz’s proposed next opponent, either Adam Kownacki or Chris Arreola, will have to wait.
Fans can only hope that in the meantime Ruiz walks the line he’s been speaking of and transform himself with hard work and determination. Ruiz alone holds the answers to whether or not he was a fluke, only Ruiz and his discipline.