The heavyweight clash between former three-belt holder Andy Ruiz Jr and veteran Chris Arreola is now official, with the FOX PBC pay-per-view set for May 1 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
The pay-per-view will be priced at $49.95, which is really as low a price as you’re going to get for something that isn’t independently-produced, so that might help some fans take the leap.
Ruiz (33-2, 22 KO) hasn’t fought since his frankly embarrassing performance against Anthony Joshua in their Dec. 2019 rematch, six months after Ruiz became the toast of the boxing world with his mega upset over Joshua, winning three of the four world heavyweight titles. In the rematch, Ruiz was woefully out of shape, the fight was a dud, and he burned pretty much all the goodwill he’d built up as boxing fans felt he clearly did not put in serious effort.
The fallout has been harsh. Ruiz-Joshua 2 was a big fight, and it followed what was really the Story of the Year for 2019 boxing, but the rematch was so bad and Ruiz left such a bad taste in fans’ mouths that there was no doing a trilogy there; nobody had any desire to see it. He also split with trainer Manny Robles, who publicly knocked Ruiz for putting in no effort in camp.
But he’s hooked up now with trainer Eddy Reynoso, most famous for his work with Canelo Alvarez, and has looked in better shape on social media, like he’s taking things very seriously and wants to get back in the heavyweight race.
“I can’t wait to get back in the ring on May 1,” said Ruiz. “Training with coach Eddy in his gym has been amazing. I’m around great fighters like Canelo Alvarez and we’re putting in the work so that I can look better than ever.
“I have known Chris Arreola since I turned professional. He’s a Mexican warrior just like me, and I expect him to come at me with everything he’s got. This is going to be an action packed event between fighters who do not go backwards. I will be smart and ready to do whatever it takes to get the win and put myself back in position to become heavyweight champion again.”
The 38-year-old Arreola (38-6-1, 33 KO) has, if we’re being honest here, been long removed from relevance in the heavyweight division. Like Ruiz, he has struggled with conditioning for various big fights in his career; he was dominated in a 2009 title shot against Vitali Klitschko, lost to Tomasz Adamek in 2010, lost two fights to Bermane Stiverne in 2013 and 2014 (the latter another title shot), and was finished in eight by Deontay Wilder in 2016, his last title shot.
But for all of that, you can say Arreola absolutely comes to fight still. The last time we saw him was in Aug. 2019, and he and fellow brawler Adam Kownacki delivered a tremendous heavyweight action fight on FOX, with Kownacki winning a decision. Arreola threw 1,125 punches in the 12 rounds that night, a CompuBox heavyweight record.
Arreola is still working with trainer Joe Goossen, and feels he’s ready for what really probably will be his last big opportunity if he loses.
“Training with Joe Goossen is tedious, hard work,” said Arreola. “We’re doing everything that we can so that when Ruiz and I face each other, fight fans will get treated to an all-out war between the two best Mexican-American heavyweights to ever step in the ring. This matchup should be a fan friendly fight, and I plan on winning behind all of my hard work.”
- Omar Figueroa Jr (28-1-1, 19 KO) vs Abel Ramos (26-4-2, 20 KO), welterweights, 12 rounds: Figueroa was long known as an action fighter with questionable dedication to the sport. He’s fought just twice since 2017, beating John Molina Jr in 2019 and then losing badly to Yordenis Ugas the same year. He’s working with trainer Joel Diaz now and saying all the right things. Ramos is also coming off of a loss to Ugas in Sept. 2020, a fight most memorable for California judge Dr. Lou Moret’s 117-111 Ramos card, a strong argument for upper age limits on boxing judges. There’s action potential here for sure.
- Sebastian Fundora (16-0-1, 11 KO) vs Jorge Cota (30-4, 27 KO), junior middleweights, 12 rounds: The 23-year-old Fundora, who is 6’5” or 6’7” depending on the day and whom you ask, takes on veteran Cota, who can scrap. Fundora will be the favorite, but Cota isn’t a total pushover, a solid step for the gigantic junior middleweight.
- Jesus Ramos Jr (15-0, 14 KO) vs Javier Molina (22-3, 9 KO), welterweights, 10 rounds: The 20-year-old Ramos is the nephew of Abel, and looks to have the much higher ceiling. PBC sort of gave him an audition at one point, and he’s been a regular undercard feature on shows since. The kid can fight. Molina’s a real good step up for him, though, a 31-year-old former Olympian who never really put it together as a pro to quite become a contender, and he’ll also be moving back up to 147, which is his worse division. But Molina knows how to box, has never been stopped, and is the right opponent for Ramos right now.
- Erislandy Lara (27-3-3, 15 KO) vs Thomas Lamanna (30-4-1, 12 KO), middleweights, 12 rounds: After grueling wins over top-flight contenders Canelo’s Brother and Greg Vendetti, Erislandy Lara returns for another stiff challenge against Thomas “Cornflake” Lamanna, ranked No. 119 in the middleweight division by BoxRec. This is a move up in weight for Lara and it will be for a WBA belt; their “super world” title is held by Ryota Murata, who was promoted from “world” when Canelo Alvarez vacated. But that could all change. Murata hasn’t fought since that move either so who knows? Anyway, Lamanna lost back-to-back fights to Jorge Cota and Brian Mendoza in 2020, but has beaten a couple of scrubs in bars in Mexico since then, so now he’s a world title contender.
- Eduardo Ramirez (24-2-3, 11 KO) vs Isaac Avelar (17-2, 10 KO), featherweights, 12 rounds: This is for a vacant interim WBA title, as the WBA are keeping a light on at featherweight for Leo Santa Cruz, who hasn’t fought in the division in over two years but is popular and well-known so they’d much rather hope he comes back than just run with someone else. They also have Xu Can as the “world” (“regular”) champ but they don’t seem too invested in that. And anyway they can get money from more guys this way. Avelar beat previously-unbeaten Sakaria Lukas last time out, but was knocked out by Stephen Fulton Jr in Aug. 2019, and followed that up by losing a decision to a guy who was 14-13-3. Ramirez is a good fighter, has won two straight and has challenged for a title in the past, losing to Lee Selby in 2017.