Andy Ruiz Jr. feels like a more diverse, flexible fighter now that he has shed so much weight.
A self-deprecating Ruiz joked during a virtual press conference Tuesday that excess pounds in all the wrong places prevented him from operating at full strength before he started taking conditioning more seriously with new trainer Eddy Reynoso. The former IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion hopes to weigh in at 250 pounds for his fight against Chris Arreola on May 1 in Carson, California.
Ruiz regrettably came in at 283½ pounds for his immediate rematch with Anthony Joshua in December 2019 in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. The Imperial, California, native weighed 15½ pounds more for their second championship match than for their first fight, when he stopped Joshua in the seventh round to pull off one of the biggest upsets in heavyweight history.
The 31-year-old Ruiz weighed 305 pounds when he began training with Reynoso last year. The former champion also revealed Tuesday that he got as high as almost 320 pounds following his 12-round, unanimous-decision defeat to Joshua in their rematch.
A rejuvenated Ruiz didn’t reveal his current weight, but he was noticeably slimmer during the press conference to promote his FOX Sports Pay-Per-View main event versus Arreola.
“You know what? I’ve always been overweight,” Ruiz said. “And now that I’ve been dropping weight normally and in the right way – by eating right, not just wearing the sauna suit, starving yourself – because that’s what I used to do back in the day. But now that we’re eating the right things, we’re working on the right things, I feel amazing, man. I can say this – I feel amazing. I could do better stuff that I couldn’t do before because of my big gut. I had chi-chis. I had t-ts that wouldn’t let me throw the right punches and all that. But, you know, now I’m more motivated, I’m more dedicated in this sport and, you know, sky’s the limit.”
Even at 268 pounds, Ruiz’s hand speed and skills enabled him to drop Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) four times, twice apiece in the third and seventh rounds, during their initial meeting in June 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Ruiz weighed 255¾ pounds for the first title fight of his career – a 12-round, majority-decision loss to Joseph Parker (then 21-0) in December 2016 at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand.
Ruiz (33-2, 22 KOs) will fight for the first time since he lost to Joshua 15 months ago when he squares off against Arreola (38-6-1, 33 KOs, 2 NC), of Riverside, California. Their 12-round bout will headline FOX Sports’ four-fight pay-per-view telecast from Dignity Health Sports Park ($49.95).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.