When Andy Ruiz Jr. left the ring in Saudi Arabia 18 months ago, he did so, knowing he had lost his heavyweight championship belts because he didn’t give him enough money. He spent six months after knocking out Anthony Joshua to win the titles for eating, drinking and partying, and the results showed when he was drunk in a battle to be fought.
He entered the ring on Saturday at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, for a bout against Chris Areola as a former champion, but left him as a man who is clearly a contender for a suddenly captivating heavyweight division.
Ruiz got in much better shape and hired the best coach in the game, Eddie Reynoso. This combination was the difference against the surprisingly effective Arreola and led him to a unanimous decision.
Ruiz won with results that seemed a little too broad. The judges had him 1
Yahoo Sports had 115-112 for Ruiz, who won for the first time since that magical night in New York nearly two years ago, when he stopped Joshua in a big mess to claim the IBF, WBO and WBA heavyweight titles.
“Chris is a veteran and a hard puncher,” Ruiz said. “We did what we had to do tonight. We got the victory we wanted. I was at my lowest point and now I have to climb the ladder again. I am grateful for the victory and I am ready to move on to the next one. “
He got what he needed from 40-year-old Arreola, who didn’t get as much attention as Ruiz for his body transformation, but who, as Jimmy Lennon Jr. likes to call the Hall of Fame, went “ready and ready.” 228 pounds and looked like a hungry contender.
Arreola seemed to hurt his shoulder and didn’t throw his left so much in the second half of the battle. Against a motivated and well-prepared Ruiz, this was a huge problem.
Coach Joe Gusen has worked with Arreola on combinations that can take advantage of Ruiz’s tendency to strike wide. He first injured Joshua by throwing his right hand over the top of another district, but against a heavy striker, this is always a dangerous tactic.
But Reynoso showed why he was the master, as he tightened Ruiz’s defense and straightened his blows. He did not leave the openings that Areola expected.
For most of his career, which began in 2003, Arreola failed to succeed and never won a truly significant battle. But he pledged to improve in 2019, and although he lost to Adam Kownacki, he looked significantly better.
He did the same on Saturday and forced Ruiz to raise his level.
But if he was a little more aggressive, he could go home as an early KO winner. He cut Ruiz short to the right and left the former champion for a while. He was too careful to restart, and Ruiz survived.
He hummed to Ruiz in the third, but then Ruiz’s defense took over. The two worked hard and threw a large number of shots, but Ruiz managed to make stronger blows and connect with a higher percentage.
He announced that he would be a factor for Joshua, Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, Louis Ortiz or another elite heavyweight he could face.
Fury and Joshua close in a series of two battles, so it makes sense for Ruiz to face Wilder next. He will not be able to be caught by Wilder as Arreola, but this was his first battle with Reynoso and there are figures that need to continue to improve.
“He caught me with a clean right hand in the second round,” Ruiz said. “I was too confident and let go a little. Hat on him. We just kept pushing and pushing. I got involved and started focusing on counterpoint and working with the body. “
Arreola hoped for a rematch, but that was unlikely to come. But he proved that he has more to offer and there are some good battles for him. Joseph Parker, the former WBO champion who defeated Derek Chisora earlier Saturday, would be a potentially good opponent for Arreola.
Ruiz will certainly fight with one of the big names at the top. He has a massive fan base and has been greeted by a crowd of 3,940 as a winning hero. He has recognition for his name, high rank, fan base and style to start a new mass battle.
He got out of his way after a disastrous duel in his rematch with Joshua. He stayed away from junk food and beer, showed up every day to train and listened to the teachings of the hottest coach in the sport.
With its power, slippery legs and fast hands, this can easily be a winning combination again.
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