In three battles, Andy Ruiz went from outsider to champion, to disappointment, to a man in search of a return. But the return is a good start.
Ruiz (34-2, 22 KOs) recorded his first win in nearly two years on Saturday as he defeated Chris Areola (38-6-1, 33 KOs) by a unanimous decision in a 12-round titleless heavyweight bout. All three judges entered the battle, which took place at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, for Ruiz with scores of 118-109, 118-109 and 117-110.
It was an important night for 31-year-old Ruiz, who upset Anthony Joshua to become the first Mexican heavyweight boxing champion in 2019, only to regain his titles immediately in the rematch. After gaining weight to 31
“Chris had it all. He’s a veteran and a hard hit,” Ruiz said. “We did what we had to do and we won. Remember, I was at the lowest level and I had to come back. We did what we had to do. Thank God, we got that win and on to the next one.”
Although the judges’ results showed a dominant night for Ruiz, it was anything but easy. The 40-year-old Arreola from Los Angeles knocked out Ruiz at the beginning of the second round with his right hand. Ruiz recovered, but Arreola injured him again near the end of the second and the beginning of the third. The early breach provoked a strong response from the sold-out crowd of 3,940.
“He grabbed me with his good right hand, I dropped my hands a little,” Ruiz said. “I was too confident. To top it off. Chris caught me with a good one, but I kept going. I felt a little rust and I know other fighters can connect with that.”
After the initial trouble, however, Ruiz settled down well. He began to focus more on the body in the fourth round and let his blow take on in the seventh. In the middle of the last round, Areola shuddered and twisted his left shoulder into an obvious injury. He shook his left hand again in the 11th round, but told referee Jack Reyes and the fans afterwards that he was fine.
“They hit me in the shoulder a few times and somehow I threw it away. No problem, it’s part of boxing,” Areola said. “I absolutely respect the judges, but today – I will always say that beauty is in the eyes of the viewer, today they like butter, everything is nice, but their face. Did he win? Okay. But don’t tell me it will only give me two or three rounds . “
This isn’t the first time Ruiz has suffered an early knockdown in a major battle. When he upset Joshua in 2019, he recovered from a knockdown in the third round and knocked out Joshua twice in the same frame. Arreola’s shots were certainly significant, but as the battle progressed his body worked, Arreola’s age and potential shoulder injury deprived him of a pop.