EXCLUSIVE: Evander Holyfield talks sparring a teenage Andy Ruiz Jr.
Former two-weight undisputed heavyweight champion of the world Evander Holyfield spoke to WBN this week about all things boxing, including Andy Ruiz Jr.
The legendary boxing figure, the only man to achieve the feat in more than one division, remains heavily involved in the sport.
Son Evan recently embarked on his own career, making his debut on the Canelo vs Sergey Kovalev undercard.
The man himself is a constant as big fights and events. Keeping himself abreast of the top contenders and current world title-holders.
One such fighter at the top of his game at the moment is Ruiz Jr. Mexico’s only ever heavyweight champ, who defied the odds at 1xbet is preparing for a rematch with Anthony Joshua on December 7.
Holyfield knows Ruiz well. The pair sparred earlier in the 30 year-old’s career when ‘The Destroyer’ was a fresh-faced teenager.
Discussing how things went down, Holyfield was quick to point out he always saw something special in the youngster back in the day.
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“Andy Ruiz Jr. really can fight. He has fast hands and can really hit hard. But don’t nobody seem to know it,” Holyfield exclusively told World Boxing News.
“Everyone is thinking it’s a fluke (that he beat Anthony Joshua the first time), but the guy showed he can get up from being knocked down. He got took down and got back up to win.”
On being a latecomer heading into the fight, Holyfield pointed out Ruiz came in an unfancied and unknown quantity.
From their training time together, Holyfield had the inside track on a potential upset.
“You got Anthony Joshua, almost the most decorated fighter in the era of today. Your wondering is, is it (the loss) because his guy pulled out?
“I realize that when you’re supposed to fight somebody and they bring someone else, they can sneak you just like when I fought Bert Cooper. You know, I was meant to fight Francesco Damiani and then I got Bert Cooper who was a journeyman. He was a good fighter at one time, but he couldn’t do a lot and all this and he landed a good shot.
“I was able to recover but these things can happen. The thing is with me personally, and I understand the boxing game, you look at Ruiz and he doesn’t look like he can fight at all. Nothing tells you he can fight, but he can.
“I knew that he could fight because I sparred with him. At the time, I was 46 and he was 19. I couldn’t believe a 19-year-old could be that good and so aggressive. He would chase me down.
“I’m like, ‘I’m the heavyweight champion of the world, who’s he trying to chase down?’ It was just amazing the confidence that he had. The persistence to cut the ring down, even in sparring.
“So, I know that persistently, he will fight that same fight that he fought last time. If he’s (Joshua) not ready to have someone in his face in the whole fight then it could end up the same way again.”
READY FOR ANYTHING
Concluding the topic of why Joshua had capitulated in such a damaging way, Holyfield was unable to relate to that kind of late switch of opponent.
“It ain’t hard to get yourself up to fight. From the time he (Joshua) beat Klitschko, he laid everyone out and tore them apart. So everybody realized to stay away from him.
“He never had to fight nobody who challenged him as much as (Ruiz) cut the ring the cut up so he didn’t have to fight that hard. The thing is with me personally, I never had that situation.
“I’ve always been the smaller guy so I always had it drilled in that if I catch him one time it might happen. I had fast hands. And I brought speed into boxing, not that it matters, but you had to have fast hands to beat me.
“I was a good boxer and my own thing was I could box better than I could fight,” added the Olympic bronze medalist.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News and an Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay (article transcribed by Assistant Editor).