The odds aren’t the only numbers stacked against Chris Arreola as his fight against Andy Ruiz Jr. approaches.
The veteran heavyweight turned 40 on March 5. Ruiz is 31, about 8½ years younger and still in the physical prime of his boxing career as they prepare to fight Saturday night in Carson, California.
The brutally honest Arreola feels the same way about age, though, as he does about weight – that it’s just a number.
“I don’t feel like I’m 40 years old,” Arreola told BoxingScene.com. “I feel like a 30-year-old man.”
Arreola will end an even longer layoff than Ruiz, who hasn’t fought since Anthony Joshua out-boxed him in their 12-round rematch for the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles in December 2019 in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. The Riverside, California, native hasn’t fought since he lost a 12-round unanimous decision to Adam Kownacki in August 2019 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Like every boxer whose career was paused during the COVID-19 pandemic, Arreola wanted to return to the ring sooner than Saturday night. Arreola (38-6-1, 33 KOs, 2 NC) has had several extended breaks during his 17-year professional career, however, which he feels have helped preserve him.
“I felt refreshed after two months,” Arreola said. “I didn’t need that much of a break. But in all honesty, I’ve had a lot of breaks. So, I’m a refreshed fighter. I don’t feel like I’m a beaten, old fighter.”
An active, aggressive Arreola didn’t fight like he was 38 when he and Kownacki went at it 20 months ago.
Arreola and Kownacki combined to land (667) and throw (2,172) the most punches in any heavyweight fight tracked by CompuBox. They broke the CompuBox records for punches landed (650) by David Tua and David Izon in December 1996 and punches attempted (1,730) by Ike Ibeabuchi and Tua in June 1997.
Kownacki connected on 369-of-1,047 punches overall, including 324-of-691 power shots. CompuBox credited Arreola for landing 298-of-1,125 punches overall, 283-of-995 of which were power shots.
Brooklyn’s Kownacki (20-1, 15 KOs) won big on all three scorecards (118-110, 117-111, 117-111), though Arreola is certain that their slugfest was much more competitive than that. Arreola’s performance that night still helped him land this FOX Sports Pay-Per-View main event versus Ruiz (33-2, 22 KOs) at Dignity Health Sports Park (9 p.m. ET; $49.99).
Handicappers have made Ruiz a 25-1 favorite, yet Arreola anticipates giving fans another memorable battle.
“This is a fight that excites me,” Arreola said. “It makes me happy that I’m fighting someone like Andy because Andy is a warrior. Andy is a great fighter. That being said, this fight should bring some big fireworks, should bring some big punches and should be one of those for the books, man. I’m really looking forward to sharing the ring with him.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.