Andy Ruiz has always been a portly pugilist.
When he entered the grand stage for the first time to face off against Anthony Joshua in June, he scored the summer stunner on short notice as a replacement opponent, while also shocking casual fans who were seeing him for the first time without a shirt.
Although Ruiz doesn’t planning on campaigning for Mr. Olympia anytime soon, he would have preferred to have more time to transform his body much like the Adonis-like figure Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) maintains.
Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) will enter his rematch Dec. 7 in Saudi Arabia a much more slimmer and lithe fighter thanks to a full camp. Under the guidance of Manny Robles, Ruiz has been training on the high altitude grounds of Guadalajara, Mexico to improve his cardio and physique.
“As boxers, we have to sacrifice being away from our loved ones, and being over in Guadalajara was something different. They had me locked in the cage so I can be an animal inside of the ring. I think that was Manny’s plan, but it was a good idea though. He’s going to have some tricks up his sleeve, but so are we,” Ruiz said at a press conference at The Boxing Club East Village in San Diego.
“It was pretty hard at first because the altitude was pretty high. We were running in the mountains and doing a lot of different drills. All of the hard work we did in Guadalajara will show.”
Ruiz said this camp is a lot more different than his last one when he scored a seventh round upset because he has time to rest and let his body recover. He also has time to shed off some excess weight.
“I’m going to be a better fighter being ten pounds lighter. I’ll be more fast, let my hands go, and be more fast on my feet as well. Losing ten pounds is not going to make any difference [in losing power]. If anything, it’s going to make me stronger and faster, especially since he’s going to be running around.
“There were times I didn’t want to train and complain [preparing for the first fight]. Luckily I have a great trainer in Manny Robles who was always looking after me, and pushing me. But this time, we have more time and are on schedule and will be in great shape.”
Robles said Ruiz has been staying focused, disciplined and grounded despite his newfound fame.
“It’s easy. He didn’t forget where he came from,” said Robles. “He doesn’t forget his people and his family. If you look around him, he’s got the same people hanging out with him since day one. When you have that, it’s easy to stay grounded.”
Ruiz, who looked a bit more svelte since we last saw him, credited his new look to a habitual diet thanks to a creature from the sea.
“I’ve been eating a lot of salmon, and I’m sick and tired of salmon right now,” said Ruiz. “I had to have my cheat day yesterday, and I’m probably going to have one today, too. But that’s why we train. We’ve been eating good, with portions. But like I said, a lot of salmon. My favorite cheat meal is chile relleno, carne asada and chilaquiles.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com and currently does TV commentary for combat sports programming that airs on Fox Sports. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.