Andy Ruiz Jr: 2021 Got Him Back on the Track

(Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images)

It was just over a year ago that Andy Ruiz Jr’s Rocky story came crashing down to earth. In a highly-anticipated rematch in Saudi Arabia, Anthony Joshua dethroned Andy Ruiz Jr in a one-sided affair. His 15 minutes of fame seemed well and truly over. 

But now Jorge Capetillo says Andy Ruiz Jr is back. The famous trainer has told reporters that Ruiz has lost 25 pounds and is eager to regain the form that saw him crowned IBF, WBA, IBO, and WBO World Heavyweight Champions. Despite not fighting since December 7, 2019, Ruiz and his team are confident he can challenge for titles once more.

Predictable Downfall? 

Following his against-all-odds win against Joshua, Ruiz Jr’s life changed completely. And like many who taste the temptations of fame and money, Ruiz Jr spiraled out of control. ‘The Destroyer’ became an instant celebrity and a multi-millionaire, and soon the flashy purchases followed: a Mercedes SUV, a Rolls Royce, a mansion, and never-ending parties with plenty of bling and booze. 

The rematch came just six months later, in what was billed as the ‘Clash of the Dunes’. The fight was highly anticipated, with Sky Sports and ESPN paying millions of dollars for the rights to air. DAZN reported an extra 200,000 subscriptions to its streaming directly as a result of the fight. Saudi Arabian authorities paid a whopping $40 million to host it and, as we can read on sites dedicated to boxing betting, the country hit the headlines in August 2019. The match had an enormous number of views, with betting also reaching a fever pitch. Many once again were piling their money on the underdog and Joshua won via unanimous decision.

The build-up lasted for months, but in the end, the fight didn’t come close to living up to the billing. The bookies had it right, but only marginally: BetMGM had him at -250, but it shouldn’t even have been that close. Joshua didn’t have to trade big blows with Ruiz, with the British fighter using his athleticism and quickness to dance around the ring, using hooks and jabs as necessary. 

After the first few rounds, Joshua’s eventual routine victory came as no surprise to anyone. Perhaps even least to Ruiz, who admitted a severe lack in preparation, citing ‘three months of partying’, weight gain, and little training in the run-up to the event. The result was perhaps a foregone conclusion months before the fight even began. 

Ruiz Jr Back on Track 

Ruiz Jr seems to have picked up the pieces and is reportedly ‘focused on the prize’, according to Capetillo. He’s lost 25 pounds, and recent footage has shown the Destroyer working with Canelo Alvarez and Ryan Garcia. Despite not having a fight scheduled and nothing yet on the horizon, the Mexican fighter looks keen to dispel rumors that he’s done. 

He’s not only lost weight to get back into fighting shape but is now mentally calmer. He’s less prone to giving in to temptations or other distractions. He replaced head trainer Manny Robles with Eddy Reynoso, partially due to a desire to surround himself with other successful fighters. Ruiz Jr is trying to create a positive fighting environment, ready to take on his next challenge, whenever that may be. 

Capetillo has cited Tyson Fury as inspiration for the turnaround. Their stories have some overlaps, with Fury struggling to maintain his weight and suffering from mental health issues following his win against Wladimir Klitschko in 2015. The Englishman managed to turn things around, however and is now WBC Champion and is himself targeting Joshua for a bout. 

It’s clear that Ruiz Jr has learned an important lesson. Knowing that partying and ‘all that other stuff’ got the better of him last time, he seems more prepared to deal with his demons. 

Can Ruiz Jr be World Champions Once More? 

Some believe he will never come back. His harshest critics say there’s nothing to come back to. He was a one-hit-wonder, just another Cinderella Man. And based on how the Mexican champion performed in his rematch with Anthony Joshua, there’s little we can say to counter it. 

The signs coming out of his camp in 2021 are promising. He looks healthy and trim in his recent training videos, and the motivation to reach the pinnacle seems to be there once more. But ultimately the proof is in the pudding, as the Brits would say. He now needs to prove it in the ring. 

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