By: Sean Crose
He looks leaner now. Considerably leaner than when he was last in the ring. As he shadowboxes he moves quickly for a big man, employing slippery movement and an impressive degree of energy. Despite the youngish baby face, it’s clear that this is an individual who has boxed for a long time, and who is familiar with grueling, t-shirt drenching gym work. A lot of fighters say they’re focusing anew after falling from on high. Andy Ruiz, former heavyweight titlist, appears to have meant it. The pudgy, hapless figure who Anthony Joshua outslicked in the rematch of their 2019 bout is gone. If a new Ruiz hasn’t arrived mentally, one certainly has physically.
In the leadup to his May 1st pay per view bout with colorful veteran Chris Arreola, Ruiz is letting the results of his training regimen speak for themselves. Like fellow heavyweight Tyson Fury, Ruiz is content to not struggle to become a body beautiful type fighter. And, like Fury, Ruiz has proven he doesn’t have to. He does, however, need to show up to his fights in shape. That’s a lesson Ruiz learned the hard way against Joshua the second time around.
After stunning the popular British titlist in his American debut in 2019, Ruiz clearly decided to live the good life. When he fought Joshua again later that same year, Ruiz was the picture of an undisciplined fighter. Not since Buster Douglas barely showed up to face Evander Holyfied had a heavyweight titlist looked so unimpressive so soon after attaining ring glory. It was little wonder to anyone that Joshua cruised to victory in Saudi Arabia that December evening. Yet, unlike Douglas, Ruiz isn’t taking over five years to return to the ring after losing his titles. He’s also playing it smart, returning to the boxing business to face the game Arreola, a tough, likeable Californian contender who has never reached the level of boxing royalty.
Something that’s easy to forget about Ruiz is the fact the man is quite a talented fighter. He can hit – as Anthony Joshua found out during their first fight – but Ruiz also has extremely fast hands for a big man. He doesn’t need to run in order to outbox an opponent. That’s no small thing. Though some are understandably confused as to why Ruiz’ return will be on pay per view, it’s hard not to conclude that the man appears hungry for ring success once more.