This Saturday night, FOX and Premier Boxing Champions are back on pay-per-view for Andy Ruiz Jr’s comeback fight against Chris Arreola.
The decision to put the show on PPV has been hugely unpopular, and while probably not as simple a call as some might think, the bottom line for fans is that the show is $50 to watch.
Is it worth it? Is there enough reason for a fight fan to fork over the cash?
The Main Event
The matchup between Ruiz (33-2, 22 KO) and Arreola (38-6-1, 33 KO) has been sold largely on Ruiz losing 30 pounds since we last saw him in the ring, when he was pretty awful and horribly out of shape for his rematch loss to Anthony Joshua in Dec. 2019 in Saudi Arabia.
The problem for Ruiz that night wasn’t that he’s fat or doesn’t have the Herculean physique of a guy like Joshua. Ruiz is never going to be trim and cut; if he were he’d probably be a cruiserweight, to be honest. He’s never going to look the part just in a still photograph. The issue was that he got too heavy to the point where he really couldn’t fight much at all, not just in terms of stamina but in even getting his hands going.
Ruiz weighed in at 283½ for that fight. Six months earlier, he was 268 when he upset Joshua. He’s hoping to be around 255 for this fight, which is about where he was when he fought Joseph Parker back in 2016 and gave a good accounting of himself as a heavyweight contender, a fight he lost by majority decision on the road in New Zealand, probably would have won by about the same scores in the U.S.
And for the record, it’s really more than 30 pounds Ruiz has shed to get where he is. By his own admission, he got up around 310 pounds after the AJ rematch before he really started to turn things around.
The 40-year-old Arreola has also had his battles with the scales over the years. Like Ruiz, he’s just never going to the “the body beautiful.” Like Ruiz, if he did he’d probably be fighting at cruiser. Like Ruiz, his weight has hampered him in big fights.
But Arreola’s more serious issues are years gone, and the truth is I don’t think he was ever going to beat Vitali Klitschko no matter what shape he showed up in. He’s been in pretty consistent condition for years now, and looks good and happy coming into this fight. Arreola throws a ton of punches — he set a CompuBox heavyweight record last time out, throwing 1,125 punches at Adam Kownacki in a decision loss — and he will bring some heat to Ruiz.
How to Watch Ruiz vs Arreola
If Ruiz is closer to his best, the general belief is he’s got hands way too fast for Arreola, and that he could light him up in the pocket, where the fight figures to live for the most part. Neither of these guys are expected to dance around on the outside too much.
We’ll get a chance to see what a more focused Andy Ruiz Jr can do, having trained with Eddy Reynoso and the Canelo camp. The bigger question goes beyond Saturday and into the next training camp, if Ruiz wins this one. Will he stay this way? Because this isn’t the first or fourth time we’ve heard about a newly focused Andy Ruiz who is buckling down for good this time.
With Chris Arreola, it’s another night at the office, basically. He’s going to give the effort, and if Ruiz has simply lost the drive once the bell rings and the lights and pressure are on, Arreola has the sort of work rate that will test him.
With Ruiz-Arreola not exactly selling the show alone, the undercard plays a somewhat more vital role here than it does for something with legit PPV headliners.
Good action can be reasonably expected, but none of the matchups are truly top-shelf.
Omar Figueroa Jr (28-1-1, 19 KO) has a story kinda-sorta similar to Andy Ruiz Jr, actually. A former lightweight titlist, Figueroa has fought in recent years as a welterweight. He was taken apart by Yordenis Ugas when we last saw him in 2019, and the real knock on Figueroa for years has been the belief that he’s not all that motivated to be a pro fighter. He’s good at it, he’s tough as hell, at his best he’s a really good action fighter. But the whispers for years — long before he lost to Ugas — were that he doesn’t stay in shape and just doesn’t care that much.
If he shows up indifferent, Abel Ramos (26-4-2, 20 KO) is good enough to take the last shred of relevance Figueroa still holds. The young veteran Ramos is durable, tough, can punch, and comes to fight. He also lost to Ugas in his last outing (September of last year), and is far from an elite fighter. But he’s not someone you can play with. If Figueroa’s at his best, he should win, but it’ll be a fight.
Junior middleweight Sebastian Fundora (16-0-1, 11 KO) is one of the sport’s most intriguing young fighters. He’s 6’4” or 6’5” or 6’6” depending on the day and which PR person you ask, and fighting at 154 that gives him some crazy advantages, but in theory can also make him a big awkward tree for a good fighter to chop down. Fundora’s also generally pretty fun to watch; he got away with a draw against Jamontay Clark — who is also abnormally tall at the weight — in 2019, but has looked good in three fights since, and at 23 is still developing as a fighter.
Fundora faces Jorge Cota (30-4, 27 KO) in this one. The 33-year-old Mexican veteran has losses to Jermell Charlo, Jeison Rosario, Erickson Lubin, and Marco Antonio Rubio, three of them by stoppage. But Cota can crack and has been around the game. He’s a dangerous opponent for Fundora if Fundora makes mistakes.
20-year-old Jesus Ramos (15-0, 14 KO), nephew of Abel, is also in action against ex-Olympian Javier Molina (22-3, 9 KO). The 31-year-old Molina never quite got over the hump as a pro and probably isn’t going to now; he had a nice run from 2018-20 where he beat together some good performances, but he got out-classed stepping back up against Jose Pedraza last September.
Molina is technically sound, though, and the right sort of opponent for the youngster, who has mostly bowled over his opposition to date. Ramos has passed the tests so far. Molina is a good one for where he is.
Is it worth buying?
Ruiz and Arreola are generally likable guys and I think they could provide a good action fight. The undercard, again, has action potential.
Is Ruiz-Arreola a $50 pay-per-view main event? Not really, no. PBC have chosen this route, hoping to appeal to enough Mexican and Mexican-American fans with this bout and the undercard. Nobody expects this to be some huge blockbuster event, it’s not like they’re going in looking for a million, 750K, 500K, or even 300K buys.
I personally — and this is just my opinion, I want to stress that — think this card has good fights. The matchups are not elite by any means, and I think it absolutely sucks that they’re all stuck behind a $50 paywall. But I get sort of a Morales-Maidana sense about this one, and if you recall that 2011 pay-per-view, you recall nobody was exactly dying to order it. On paper, it was a blown-up, shot Erik Morales being fed to a new era warrior.
What we got was Maidana and Morales trading leather in a great war, Robert Guerrero and Michael Katsidis having a very entertaining fight, and also Nobuhiro Ishida shocking the world with a first round stoppage of then-unbeaten James Kirkland. I think the other PPV fight was Paulie Malignaggi against Miguel Cotto’s brother, Jose. That one I don’t remember so much, but you get my drift here. With low expectations can come surprise.
Any boxing pay-per-view is a gamble, really, as to whether or not it’ll be worth the money and time you spent. But sometimes these type of shows really do give you a lot more bang for your buck than one headlined by a more legitimate marquee fight.
That said, yeah, it’s a little weird being sold a pay-per-view on the idea that someone actually got in shape this time. Ruiz-Arreola is a logical, reasonable comeback fight. But at $50, even with a solid-looking undercard? Tough sell, and I suspect hard to convince anyone skeptical or hesitant. This one might be for the diehards only.