Teddy Atlas is interested in training Andy Ruiz Jr.
But before Atlas would agree to take that assignment, the veteran trainer wants Ruiz to fly to New York to spend a few days in the gym with him. Atlas needs to get a feel for how coachable Ruiz would be if they were locked in a two-month training camp together, and if Ruiz is truly committed to changing his conditioning and eating habits.
Atlas isn’t convinced Ruiz lost his rematch to Anthony Joshua just because Ruiz weighed in at 283½ pounds, 15½ pounds heavier than the day before he dropped Joshua four times and upset him by seventh-round technical knockout June 1 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
“I haven’t agreed to anything, other than saying that if you’re serious, you come to New York and you spend a couple days with me,” Atlas said during a recent episode of “The Ak and Barak Show” on SiriusXM. “During that time, I would work in the gym, see how coachable you are, get an idea and a feel for your attitude and ask some very important questions – I think important for you, but definitely important for me. Why is this important to you now? You’re a multi, multimillionaire. Why is it important to you? Why? Why do you wanna continue doing this? And what is your expectation? And I would listen to him. And then I would have a decision to make. And he would have a decision to make, whether or not he could get along with my philosophy, that he could buy into what I would believe.”
Atlas believes it is important for the 30-year-old Ruiz to train outside of the Southern California environment in which the former IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion has become too comfortable.
“With a kid like Ruiz, it’s almost like dealing – and this is gonna sound harsh, and I don’t mean it to sound harsh – but again, the truth sometimes can sound that way,” Atlas explained. “It’s almost like dealing with a drug abuser. You know, he’s got a problem with eating. And if you had a kid that you were really trying to save from drugs, what would you do? You don’t have to be a drug counselor to understand that you’d remove him from the things that are comfortable for him. You remove him from his surroundings. Well, the same thing with a Ruiz. I’d have to remove him from his surroundings. ‘Oh, Teddy, you don’t want him with his father. Oh, you don’t want him with his family. Oh, you wanna be a dictator.’ Uh, yeah. Yeah. You wanna call it that, go ahead and call it that. You have to do what’s gonna be able to change things.”
The longtime ESPN boxing analyst doesn’t think Ruiz (33-2, 22 KOs) should blame his 12-round, unanimous-decision defeat to Joshua on veteran trainer Manny Robles, with whom Ruiz since has parted ways.
“I think it’s wrong,” Atlas said. “That’d be part of it, too. Those would be part of my questions, because I would wanna know. ‘So, you think that other people are guilty of the fault here? And it doesn’t lie on you?’ Because being able to take responsibility, and even loyalty, you just touched on it, there’s a power to that. There’s a strength to that. And not being able to do that, there’s a weakness to that.”
Like virtually every fight in boxing, Ruiz’s return has been delayed due the COVID-19 pandemic. Fellow Mexican-American Chris Arreola (38-6-1, 33 KOs, 2 NC) has been mentioned prominently as a potential opponent for Ruiz’s first fight following his one-sided defeat to England’s Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) on December 7 in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.
“It wouldn’t be about the next fight,” Atlas said. “Yeah, he’s gonna win the next fight. Who do you think he’s gonna fight? … Look, if we’re gonna talk the truth, we’re gonna talk the truth. So, the first fight’s gonna be OK. Then it’s gonna be a tough one. Then it’s gonna be one of the real ones. And so, what is the objective here? For Teddy Atlas to come in for him to win the next fight? To win the next two fights? Or is it to be able to have his life in check, have control over his life, have true success with his life? What’s it about?”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.