Less than three years after becoming the first heavyweight champion of Mexican descent, Andy Ruiz Jr. is heading for career oblivion.
The 32-year-old shocked Anthony Joshua in June 2019 at Madison Square Garden to seal a lifelong ambition and stun the world.
In the month following the upset, Ruiz embarked on a party that lasted the best part of four months. But in October 2019, he got forced into accepting a contracted rematch with Joshua out of his comfort zone in Saudi Arabia.
Breaking ranks on more than one occasion during a hampered training camp for the return, Ruiz came in at a massive 283 pounds. It was his heaviest weight in a decade.
Smokescreens on social media of Ruiz slimming down in weight considerably for the fight got blown out of the water. Ruiz looked massive as he weighed in with a t-shirt on to cover his modesty.
Joshua used mobility as the critical factor to beating Ruiz over the return distance. Despite some hairy moments, Ruiz couldn’t get near AJ as he carried far too much timber.
Coach Manny Robles jumped ship despite a close bond with Ruiz. The former ruler was clearly on a path to self-destruction.
Teaming up with Canelo Alvarez trainer Eddy Reynoso soon after, hopes were high that the Trainer of the Year would be able to pin Ruiz down to serious work.
So far, it seemed to be working.
Ruiz shed 27 pounds for a winning return against Chris Arreola in May 2021. A points win came at the expense of a knockdown, partly blamed on the amount of bulk shed by Ruiz and getting used to his new trimmer figure.
Hopes were high that Ruiz would land a high-profile clash, with World Boxing News exclusively revealed that ‘The Destroyer’ would fight Deontay Wilder in a Pay Per View extravaganza later that same year.
Sadly, the fight fell through when Wilder won an arbitration to face Tyson Fury for the third time. Ruiz was back of the shelf, and Al Haymon seemingly had no backup plan.
A lack of options in the top division due to most competitors already fighting each other meant Ruiz missed out on Luis Ortiz and Charles Martin.
Instead, the pair got pitted together as Ruiz wasn’t ready to compete in early 2022. A troublesome injury kept Ruiz trying to get fit.
At the time, Ruiz said: “I can’t wait for my return. My knee feels good and ready to go. Who should I fight?”
Weeks later, some light has gotten shed on the situation.
Speaking to ESPN at the Dmitry Bivol press conference for his Las Vegas battle on May 7, Canelo Alvarez opened up on Ruiz.
The pound for pound king commented just a short time after accusing Ryan Garcia of failing to show commitment as he moved to new trainer Joe Goosen.
“You could ask Oscar Valdez and Frank Sanchez. I don’t know what happened to Andy Ruiz. It’s the same (as Ryan Garcia). He came one day, and then he doesn’t come anymore,” pointed out the four-weight champion.
He added in defense of Reynoso, who took some flak for Garcia’s move: “Eddy has time for all fighters. You can ask everyone.
“If you take the time to be in the gym and train properly with discipline, Eddie will always be there.
“If you come and train for twenty minutes, you won’t come for four days or arrive after the time you agreed to [then that’s bad]. You must be disciplined.”
ANDY RUIZ JR ALONE
As of February, Andy Ruiz Jr. is going through his paces for a potential spring return on his own. Training at home in his luxury mansion bought with the money from two fights against Joshua.
👀 El único mexicano campeón mundial del peso pesado, Andy Ruiz Jr 🇲🇽, ya está otra vez entrenando a todo tren 💪 pic.twitter.com/dAtSKgaZrs
— ESPN KnockOut (@ESPNKnockOut) February 25, 2022
The Deontay Wilder fight remains on the table as WBN understands the situation. However, Wilder put a spanner in the works by confirming he may not return for the foreseeable future or ever again.
Once again, Andy Ruiz Jr. is in no-mans-land. Luis Ortiz is a solid option but is also being touted elsewhere due to Ruiz not yet being in fighting shape.
There are some big decisions needed for Ruiz regarding his immediate career. The constant stalling is doing nothing for his selling power.
Since ruling as the unified heavyweight titleholder, two fights are not ideal. Ruiz needs to change by the late spring to give Ruiz a shot at the Wilder fight.
Phil Jay has over ten years of boxing news experience. Founding editor of World Boxing News since 2010, WBN has over one billion views on all platforms.
Attending over 200 events and scoring over 400 fights, Phil Jay has overseen WBN to a quarter of a million followers on social media.
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