Former heavyweight champ Andy Ruiz Jr. is letting the world know that he’s coming back this year and aiming on being his best possible self.
The Mexican-American shocked the boxing world back in June of 2019 with a stunning stoppage of three-belt champ Anthony Joshua in Madison Square Garden. The affable “everyman” became a pop culture celeb with that win, appearing on late night TV and earning accolades from across the globe as the hero of the chubby “regular” guy who felled the Adonis-like Joshua with sheer tenacity and force of will.
Unfortunately for him, the good vibes didn’t last long.
Coming into his December rematch with Joshua unfocused and out of shape from months of partying, Ruiz was shut out by the talented Brit. He was forced back out of the spotlight to become a punch line of sorts among boxing fans as a clichéd “had it all, blew it all” character. Predictably, he would fire his trainer Manny Robles following the embarrassing Joshua loss before drifting into the background for nearly a year with only feint, “I’m coming back and getting back in shape” rumblings here and there.
Now, under the guidance of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez trainer Eddy Reynoso, Ruiz is making it publicly known that his comeback is on the verge of happening. He’s also showcasing a slimmed-down physique.
“Congratulations,” former trainer Robles said in a recent interview with FightHype.com. “He should’ve thought about that in the rematch [with Anthony Joshua] when he was the world champion…It’s never too late…Now, he lost something precious, which was to be the heavyweight champion of the world…I tried to convince him. Unfortunately, his mind was somewhere else. Now, apparently, his situation is different, you know, and I wish him nothing but the best. I don’t hate on him. Hopefully, he can become the world champion again…He became a world champion, but it’s not just about winning a world title, it’s defending the world title. It’s building a legacy. Hopefully he can find that with his new team.”
New trainer Reynoso is confident of Ruiz’s ability, but he’s also quite aware of Ruiz’s career-long weak points– focus, discipline, and motivation.
“You haven’t seen the best of him yet,” Reynoso told Boxing Junkie. “He can give much more, even more than he gave in the first Joshua fight. He has a lot of ability, which he has already shown against the best heavyweights in the world…The (objective) is to do things well so when he comes back, you’ll see the real Andy Ruiz…The question is (the) focus. He has all the abilities.”
Ruiz never looked the part of a world class fighter. He always looked varying degrees of pudgy and, at his worst, he came to the ring looking flat-out roly-poly. The hand speed and instincts and overall skill was always there, though. Too often, however, all of the good was weighed down by the bad. This self-defeating dynamic caused his career to stagnate and it cost him a nice promotional deal with promoter Bob Arum, as well.
The hardcore effort in pushing Joshua to collapse– after being dropped, himself– made him an instant star and main stage player. Then, again, human foibles, as they often do, obscured the superhuman performance. It’s now up to Ruiz whether he wants to conquer his own nature before conquering a top heavyweight again.
“It’s up to the fighter,” Robles said of Ruiz’s predicament. “The fighter’s gotta want it.”
The question now, as it has always been for him, is whether Ruiz wants ring excellence and legacy over self-indulgence and comfort.