WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT ANDY RUIZ JR BEFORE ANTHONY JOSHUA FIGHT
Who is Ruiz?
Andy Ruiz Jr. looks more like your co-worker than a pro athlete, but the old adage ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’ seems to be nearly ideal when thinking of Ruiz Jr.Andy Ruiz Jr., a 105-5 amateur losing only in the most inopportune times at Olympic qualifying events or international competition. In fact, the biggest promoter in boxing, Top Rank Inc, signed him from the start of his career in 2009, a company known for building not just champions, but stars — yet Ruiz’s career so a lot of backroads.
Ruiz infamously made his debut to the typical fight fan in his 21st professional fight on November of 2013 on the Manny Pacquiao versus Brandon Rios pay-per-view fight from Macao, China, as he was getting outboxed by Tor Hamer before Hammer quit in the corner after the third round. Between a sluggish start and a jiggling body frame that didn’t resemble anything of a chiseled Greek god, it seemed as though a silent memorandum had been sent to keep Ruiz off television until his body was more appealing or his performances were more dominant.
This is where I got to see and know Ruiz for a bit as he would fight on Top Rank’s regional circuit, often headling shows. After beating former WBO heavyweight champion Siarhei Liakhovich in 2014 at the Selland Arena in Fresno, Ca, Ruiz went on a run that saw him winning fights, but never dominating as the talent always seemed to be there, but maybe the motivation not so much as he was fighting between the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona, the Tachi Palace in Lemoore, Ca, and essentially any other venue he could get a date, as he waited for his big fight. It felt like a pattern of facing opposition who were looking to survive against him while he looked to stop his foes while not wanting to risk getting knocked out which would jeopardize a future big fight.
Ruiz’s notable fight came in 2016 as he fought Joseph Parker for the vacant WBO heavyweight title in Australia. Ruiz looked like the fighter many had raved about from the amateurs and not the one who had gotten a bit sluggish on club circuit, as his head movement and fast hands, gave the notoriously fast-handed Parker, all that he could handle, in fact most pundits, including myself, favored Ruiz on the cards for the bout, but the judges saw it another way (and that is all that matters in the end).
Ruiz Jr. was redeemed and during this time he had switched trainers like crazy from Freddie Roach, Miguel Diaz, Justin Gamber before finally finding a home at Legendz Boxing Gym with Manny Robles.
Whether they know it or not, Ruiz and Robles had a similar plight as Robles during his tenure with Ruiz went from being viewed as the next star coach in boxing to losing most of his fighters once Oscar Valdez, Jessie Magdaleno, Michael Conlan, amongst others left him.
Ruiz’s time with Top Rank ended unceremoniously. Ruiz beat Kevin Johnson in Fresno, Ca, last summer. Ruiz still had a name and skill, but now at 29-years-old, did he have time.
In a shocking move, Ruiz ended up on the Premier Boxing Champions banner fighting on April 20th fought stopping Alexander Dimitrenko as he picked up a fifth-round knockout his first stoppage in two years. With a team in place and a new promoter, Ruiz seemed ready for one more opportunity and to look to become the first Mexican heavyweight world champ, ever.
Enter The Joshua Fight
Then it happened. Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller test positive for everything illegal you could put in your body for competition. Miller was caught with EPO, HGH and a specialized type of steroid that is mostly used in bodybuilding, gw1516. In short, Miller was out of the Anthony Joshua fight, Joshua’s U.S. debut without a dancing partner.
Fighters like Luis Ortiz, Adam Kownacki, and a few others didn’t take the fight for whatever reason, but Ruiz jumped at the chance.
Ruiz’s name circulated, but the power struggle between promoters and networks as well as loyalties in the sport of boxing made people wonder if a fighter from the Premier Boxing Champions brand of entertainment could fight on the streaming service, DAZN, but in the end, Ruiz was able to take the bout.
Ruiz now can make the most money ever in his career, as well as look to accomplish a childhood goal, win a world title, but is it feasible — well, yes.
Ruiz presents a major issue for most heavyweights since he moves his head and is able to punch off his slips. This might not seem like a big deal, but Ruiz actually has talent in the boxing ring, whereas a lot of heavyweights might have more size and strength, but are relegated to simple combinations to confine their weaknesses in craft and skill. Ruiz’s only weakness is in the modern era of monstrous heavyweight somehow six-foot-two isn’t consider big anymore.
If we look solely at the numbers, Anthony Joshua, a 2012 super heavyweight gold medalist from Brittan, has an 82-inch reach as opposed to Ruiz’s 74-inch reach, as listed on BoxRec, combined that with Joshua having a four-inch height advantage, well, basic physics say Joshua has all the quantitive advantages. Yet, Joshua is robotic, a good puncher, a good boxer, but nothing stands out as a glaring strength, Joshua is good, but good by being solid at each individual skillset in this division.
The comparable opponent between the two, Joseph Parker, gave Joshua fits with his jab and that was despite Joshua having a six-inch reach advantage over Parker as Joshua was often second as opposed to first in that fight. Ruiz has the same ability to do that along with head movement, the elephant in the room is the shape Ruiz comes in to the ring, and with such a major event, and roughly five to six weeks to train after just coming off a fight it seems as though Ruiz should be in some semblance of shape.
Joshua won’t be in the U.S. for long
The Anthony Joshua experiment in the U.S. will probably happen as frequently as Canelo fighting at Madison Square Garden, but that being said it is something. Ruiz quite possibly could be a trickier foe than “Big Baby” Miller, that is if Miller wasn’t allowed to cheat and use drugs that literally aided his style.
Joshua is one of the biggest names in the sport, and a star in Brittan, but seemingly isn’t catching on in the U.S. After Deontay Wilder’s one-punch KO of Dominic Breazeale, a couple of weeks ago, Joshua has to put on some type of show to help traction in the U.S.
My big question is Andy Ruiz Jr. too much for Anthony Joshua, to look good against, let alone win a bout against, as Joshua has looked his best against fighters looking to come forward and seen issues with fighters with quick hands and good counterpunching ability, in fact against Klitschko he even hit the deck. Joshua has everything to lose, and hardly anything to gain, and Ruiz is one of those tricky fighters you never want to fight when he is motivated.
This bout takes place this Saturday, June 1st on DAZN, a mobile sports streaming app, at 7 PM PST, as it takes place live from Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.