Former heavyweight titleholder Andy Ruiz Jr hasn’t fought since a disappointing and frankly somewhat embarrassing rematch loss to Anthony Joshua in Dec. 2019, as various attempts to get him back into the ring in 2020 never wound up going through.
But the 31-year-old Ruiz (33-2, 22 KO) is still in camp with new trainer Eddy Reynoso and the rest of the Canelo team, and is looking in notably better shape than last we saw him in the ring. Ruiz says a fight date is “coming soon” as of today, at least:
And here’s a shot of Ruiz with the rest of the lads in Reynoso’s gym (L to R: Ruiz, Canelo, Frank Sanchez, Ryan Garcia, Oscar Valdez) so you can get sort of a measure of how Ruiz is looking next to the other guys:
Ruiz, of course, was the story of the sports world for a bit in 2019, when he shocked Joshua at Madison Square Garden to win the WBA, IBF, and WBO heavyweight titles, before the rematch six months later in Saudi Arabia. Ruiz showed up out of shape even by his normal standards; while Andy’s never going to have the AJ six pack or even Tyson Fury’s more evenly distributed “softness” (relatively to Hercules heavyweight bodies, mind you), he was 15-20 pounds heavier than even his normal higher-end weights, and it showed up in the ring, as he couldn’t get out of the blocks against AJ.
After parting ways with trainer Manny Robles, Ruiz linked up with Reynoso last fall. There will always be questions about Ruiz’s dedication and consistency until he answers them for an extended period, and nobody outside of Ruiz’s immediate circle could possibly blame Robles for what happened in the Joshua rematch. But Reynoso is a top-tier trainer and if Andy takes to it and stays focused, he’s still a legitimate heavyweight contender.
As for what he’ll do when he returns, the only name repeatedly attached to him has been Chris Arreola (38-6-1, 33 KO), the veteran former title challenger who will turn 40 on March 5. There were reportedly terms agreed for them to fight late last year, but it didn’t happen.
If that’s still the plan, yes, Arreola is long past his best days, and was notably another guy whose indifference to conditioning cost him on his biggest stages in his career. But he’s always still game, too, and he’s tough as hell to this day; last time we saw him, he lost to Adam Kownacki, but threw 1,125 punches, the most for a heavyweight in CompuBox’s history. Ruiz-Arreola would be, in theory, a comeback/get-well fight for Ruiz, but Chris Arreola still makes opponents earn it, too; he won’t just roll over, and if Ruiz has just lost it, the old guy might wind up simply being too determined.
Personally, I still like that matchup for what it’s meant to be, in part because no, Ruiz is not going to come back and fight a top contender right off the bat, and I’d strongly prefer a born fighter like Arreola to Alexander Flores getting another FOX main event or something, and a Flores type is probably the alternative here, not Michael Hunter or someone.