A re-energized Andy Ruiz Jr. is planning for a major rebound after relinquishing his throne atop the heavyweight division.
The journey will start when Ruiz (33-2, 22 KOs) next faces Chris Arreola (38-6-1, 33 KOs) on May 1 on FOX Sports pay-per-view at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
A rotund Ruiz showed up in Saudi Arabia to defend the WBO, WBA, IBF and IBO titles he snatched away from Anthony Joshua in December 2019.
The 31-year-old proved to be no match against the more determined British fighter in a landslide unanimous decision loss.
Ruiz weighed 268 pounds when he shocked Joshua for the titles in June 2019 but was 15 pounds heavier just six months later.
Ruiz has been showing more mental and physical resilience in recent months as he tries to work his way back up the heavyweight ladder.
"I must have lost 40 pounds. After my fight against Anthony Joshua and my defeat in Saudi Arabia, I gained to like 310 pounds. I was depressed. I was mad at myself because I knew I should have trained. I knew I should have done better in my last fight. But you know what, it's never too late. Now is the time. Now is the beginning to see the real and new Andy Ruiz Jr.,” the fighter said on his YouTube channel.
“I had everything, the belts, I was on top of the world but I took that sh-- for granted ... I'm ready to get my belts back. All of this hard work and dedication is going to pay off, man. Everyone is going to see the difference. Everyone is going to see the hard work. I'm ready for my next fight. I've been ready and excited. I'm ready to prove everybody wrong. That's what it's all about.”
Ruiz’s fight against the former three-time world title challenger Arreola will be a showdown between two Southern California-based, Mexican-American sons.
Ruiz is from Imperial while Arreola is from Riverside.
After contemplating retirement in recent years, the 40-year-old Arreola is looking for one last hurrah after his spirited decision loss to Adam Kownacki broke multiple CompuBox numbers for a heavyweight fight.
“Arreola is not an easy guy. He's a Mexican warrior like me who loves to throw bombs,” said Ruiz. “He doesn't give up until it's over. So to me, I have to be double in shape. All you can see and expect is fireworks.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com