‘The new’ Andy Ruiz had to survive a real scare before outpointing Chris Arreola in a cracking scrap on his return to action on Saturday night.
The former world heavyweight champion had promised a totally different man to the flabby and ponderous fighter we last saw in his December 2019 loss to Anthony Joshua.
That night he had been 283lbs, but here he came in at 256 after his first camp under the tutelage of trainer of the moment Eddy Reynoso.
Ruiz down early
He duly produced an impressive performance for most of the night, but he had to get off the floor in the second as Arreola showed that he can still bang at the age of 40. He was in deep waters again in the third before regaining his composure to dominate the rest of the way. Arreola meanwhile appeared compromised after hurting his left shoulder during the eighth.
Ruiz started impressively, showcasing yet again the fastest hands in the heavyweight division. His footwork also looked on point as he took centre ring immediately and dominated the opening session. He landed three nice right hands as Arreola struggled to cope with that speed. ‘The Nightmare’ was content to box off the back foot, trying to establish the jab.
If the first round had been perfect for Ruiz, the second was a disaster. The arena in Carson, California was in uproar as ‘The Destroyer’ was down early in the session – courtesy of a right-hand counter from Arreola to the side of the head. Andy was up quickly, just as he had been on that famous night against Joshua at Madison Square Garden in June 2019. He was hurt again before the round ended though, this time by a hook.
The third saw Ruiz hurt again early in the session by a crushing Arreola left hook – but somehow he stayed on his feet. He regained his composure swiftly to land a couple of powerful hooks of his own before the end of the round. The exchanges were furious and the drama was high as the two men laid it all on the line.
Andy was much better in Round 4 as he returned to the strategy which had served him so well in the opening session. He stalked his opponent, using jabs to the body to set up power shots.
Ruiz continued his renaissance in the fifth, eating a big right from Arreola before really hitting home with powerful hooks. The second of two left hooks stiffened Arreola’s legs in the final seconds of the round.
Andy dominated the sixth as he really started to settle into an effective rhythm, boxing smartly and landing with lightning combinations. Arreola ended the round with a cut on the bridge of his nose.
Shoulder problem for Arreola
The seventh was a quieter round, as Arreola tried to get on the front foot and push Ruiz back. Andy was circumspect but did produce the moment of the round when he landed a beautiful combination. The gutsy Arreola though just shrugged it off and continued to come forward.
There was concern for Arreola midway through the eighth as he turned away momentarily and winced after appearing to hurt his shoulder. He shook it off though and was able to continue to paw out jabs and land hooks late in the session.
The ninth was another good round for Ruiz as he started to let his hands go, landing with multiple hooks and body shots. He was really in a groove now and Arreola was breathing just a little heavily as the session ended. Ruiz meanwhile had swelling underneath his left eye.
Arreola manfully tried to force the issue in the 10th as he attempted to get inside to land effectively, but Ruiz nullified the threat by boxing well within himself and controlling the action. He also landed a lovely straight right which stiffened Arreola’s legs.
Ruiz dominated the 11th, landing a huge right and two big left hooks, while Arreola – still clearly bothered by that injury to his left shoulder – was incredibly game as he managed to land multiple jabs as he tried to get inside.
The final round produced more entertaining action as Andy – still full of energy – moved well and landed some lovely combinations. They both traded as the final bell sounded to raucous cheers from the crowd at Dignity Health Sports Park.
Despite the knockdown, and the deep waters Ruiz swam in during Round 3, the result didn’t really appear to be in any great doubt. And the cards confirmed that fact with Andy announced the winner by scores of 117-110 and a frankly laughable 118-109 twice.
Ruiz (now 34-2) will presumably now move on to bigger and better things, with Deontay Wilder or Luis Ortiz possible upcoming opponents. Arreola (now 38-7-1) meanwhile said he would love a rematch, but that would appear unlikely. He did though show admirable grit and a granite chin at the age of 40.