Chris Arreola has what probably really will be his last chance to do something big in boxing on May 1, when he faces Andy Ruiz Jr in a FOX PBC pay-per-view main event.
Having just turned 40, Arreola (38-6-1, 33 KO) has had his chances to break through over the years. He had world title fights in 2009, 2014, and 2016, losing all of them. Like opponent Ruiz (33-2, 22 KO), he’s faced a lot of questions about his conditioning over the years.
But Arreola’s heart and fighting spirit have been far less questioned. Even the last time we saw him in a loss to Adam Kownacki in 2019, Arreola smashed CompuBox’s record for most punches throw by a heavyweight, unleashing 1,125 shots in 12 rounds, though he lost a clear decision.
The fight with Ruiz pits an aged warrior against a guy who shocked the world just two years ago, then lost it all within six months. As Arreola tries to score an upset and maybe get one more title fight before he retires, Ruiz is trying to bounce back with new trainer Eddy Reynoso and show he wasn’t a one-hit wonder when he upset Anthony Joshua to win three world titles.
“At one point he wanted to be like me, and now I want to be like him,” Arreola said in their virtual press conference. “He became the first (Mexican) to win a heavyweight title, he did something that I didn’t do. He deserved it, he deserves everything he got.”
The two know each other well, with Ruiz remarking, “I have nothing but love for Chris Arreola. We’re friends outside of the ring, but inside the ring it’s business. Outside the ring, to this day I’ll give him a hug and be, like, ‘Bro, we’re about to fight!’ We’ve gotta secure the bag. That’s what it is.”
And Arreola recalls sparring a young Ruiz some years back.
“He was a pudgy kid that went in the ring and I thought nothing of him until he threw those hands. And those hands were lethal, those hands were dangerous, they were fast,” he said. “He was a Mexican with speed and I knew one day this day would come, and now it’s here. I’m preparing and I’m ready for this man, because he is a dangerous man.”
Long known for his honesty and candor, Arreola expanded on how much Ruiz took him by surprised, and said he was one of the few who thought Ruiz would beat Joshua in their first fight.
“One thing I remember about Andy is that he was very unassuming,” Arreola said. “I didn’t think that he was gonna have the hand speed that he had, the skills that he had. Once we got in the ring, holy fuck did I have a rude awakening.”