Chris Arreola was cautious even after hurting Andy Ruiz Jr. during the second and third rounds Saturday night.
Were Arreola more aggressive, he might’ve become the first fighter to knock out the former heavyweight champion. Arreola knew, though, that Ruiz remained dangerous after Arreola hurt him, which was why the longtime contender didn’t over-commit to trying to stop his vulnerable opponent.
Arreola’s right hand dropped Ruiz to one knee early in the second round. Ruiz fought back and landed hard shots of his own during the second round, but Arreola almost knocked him down again with a left hook very early in the third round.
Ruiz recovered from that shot, too, and caught Arreola with multiple punches in the third round. The resilient Ruiz regained control of their 12-round fight in the fourth round and out-pointed Arreola by big margins on all three scorecards (118-109, 118-109, 117-110) at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
“I absolutely hurt him, but you know, Andy’s a very dangerous fighter,” Arreola said during a post-fight press conference. “We seen that against AJ. And I didn’t wanna get caught with a sucker punch. And I wanted to make sure that I measured him and I caught him right. You know, that right hand hit him flush in the chin and it put him down.
“He didn’t put me down and, honestly, you could probably watch the fight again – he probably hit me one or two good times. I hit him countless amount of times with the right hand and the jab was snapping his head back. Like he may have speed, he may have power, but he didn’t hurt me. He didn’t f------ hurt me.”
The judges hurt Arreola’s pride because two of them, Lou Moret and Pat Russell, scored only the second round for him. Zachary Young scored the second and third rounds for Arreola (38-7-1, 33 KOs, 2 NC), who was disgusted when he learned none of the judges had him winning more than two rounds.
Knocking out Ruiz (34-2, 22 KOs) would’ve eliminated the need for those subjective scorecards, but the 40-year-old Arreola recalled Ruiz getting up from a third-round knockdown to drop Joshua twice in the third round of their first fight. Ruiz knocked Joshua to the canvas twice more in the seventh round, when their memorable bout was stopped in June 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
“This is boxing,” Arreola explained. “This is a dangerous sport, and I did what I had to do. I was cautious and I was trying to catch him again, obviously, but again, everything behind the jab and everything behind the counter. I wasn’t gonna just go in there and be an AJ and throw f------ caution to the wind. You know, he was always a dangerous fighter. We’re Mexican fighters. We get up and we get up to fight.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.