Fight of the Day: Andy Ruiz vs Chris Arreola

Premier Boxing Champions’ YouTube page recently posted the PPV main event from May 2021 between Arreola and Ruiz from Carson, California. This was an interesting crossroads fight between Ruiz who briefly held unified titles at heavyweight when he scored a massive upset over Anthony Joshua at the Garden and long time contender Arreola. Joshua returned the favor in the desert scoring a dominant though dull decision over a poorly prepared Ruiz. Ruiz reminiscent of Buster Douglas gained fifteen pounds and was slow and lethargic in the rematch losing his title while taking a massive credibility hit. In the wake of the loss Ruiz sat out from December of 2019 all the way to May of 2021 and fired his long time trainer and entered the Reynoso camp with Canelo and Oscar Valdez. He was all over social media appearing to be a changed man and motivated to work hard and win. We had seen this before when he posted skinny looking pictures in the lead up to the Joshua rematch only to weigh in much heavier than the initial fight. There was a lot of skepticism around Ruiz’s preparation and ability to change his work ethic but a lot of that was put to bed with a weigh in of 256 lbs. his lightest weight since 2018 and a full twelve pounds lighter than his first encounter with Joshua.

Arreola has had a rocky career to say the least. In the later 2000’s he was getting a lot of push from HBO being billed as the man to become Mexico’s first heavyweight champion, Ruiz would earn that claim in 2019. At forty years of age Arreola had plenty of chances at the big time competing for the WBC heavyweight title three times and being stopped three times by Vitali Klitschko, Deontay Wilder and Bermane Stiverne. His weight constantly fluctuated as he battled inconsistent performances, hand injuries and disappointed glossy predictions. He was a man who got a lot of chances that many felt he did not deserve but was willing to keep stepping in. Having taken a bad beating from Wilder and taking punishment in questionable decisions against Fred Kassi and Travis Kauffman it looked like it was all over for Arreola. In 2019 he lost to Polish fighter Adam Kownacki and sat out all of 2020. On paper Arreola looked like the perfect match for Ruiz, a name, a west coast draw, and seemingly ripe for an easy night. To my disbelief this mismatch on paper was PPV and the main event which seemed crazy at the time as both had big lay offs, diminished standing among boxing fans and it did not look like a competitive fight on paper.

If the writing was on the wall Arreola must not have read it as Joe Goosen worked him down to 228 lbs. his lightest career weigh in and lowest since he scaled 229 in 2006. Still there have been cases of over the hill fighters getting their weight down but looking great with nothing left, infamously Muhammad Ali against Larry Holmes. Still you had two fighters with lay offs, with new trainers, with a passionate home crowd who begged for war so it was hard to know exactly what you were going to get as a spectator. The fight turned out to be an entertaining contest with both men having their moments and getting the crowd out of their seats in Carson. After a good first round where Ruiz used his hand speed to rattle off combinations the former champion was floored in the second round. If Arreola has had one thing in his career it is a hard right hand and deceptive hand speed. He always managed to hurt guys while punching with them because he could reach the target first. Arreola was normally in good fights because he had faith in his punch and ability to take a punch and he would trade even with hard punchers to get the job done. Ruiz was leaning inside the right hand of Arreola and Chris was able to loop his shot a little bit and land high on the head to drop Ruiz. Andy popped up quickly but paced to the other side of the ring and wisely took his count. Ruiz got on the front foot as the aggressor hoping to earn back that point and Arreola wisely gave ground to try and time the next bomb rather than trade with a desperate and recovered Ruiz. Later in the round Ruiz again leaned into the right hand this time staggering back into the ropes, clearly more hurt than earlier in the round. Fortunately for Andy the bell sounded about fifteen seconds later giving him a sixty second reprieve to gather his senses.

In the third round Arreola came out as the boxer with Ruiz coming forward trying once more to take back momentum. Ruiz looked to have his legs back under him as he jabbed and stepped his way in taking ground but failing to do damage. Arreola rarely fought a fight like this off the back foot picking his spots behind a jab. However, it worked as he scored again with a blow that hurt Ruiz, this time it was a left hook behind the right hand. He threw the right as Ruiz leaned in yet again and it scored but not a hard connect and Ruiz pulled out expecting to be out of range but got caught with a hard left hook. Ruiz again weathered the blow and stayed on his feet in a closely fought round. Broadcast unofficial scorer and former NJ boxing commissioner Larry Hazzard had it tied 28-28 after three rounds with Arreola getting the 10-8 round in the second and Ruiz taking the first and third round. I disagreed on the scoring and would have had Arreola just ahead 29-27.

As the fight drew on Ruiz began to progressively take over as the minutes passed with his youth and hand speed. The boxing approach that Arreola took allowed Ruiz to fight at his pace and recover from the punishment he had taken in the first few rounds. The older Arreola began to tire from the movement and the fierce body punching from Ruiz who was digging an overhand right to the body at any chance he could get. He was working the jab, the double jab and sweeping his left hook around the guard to score. Still the aging veteran would not go away and continued to score with his jab down the stretch of the fight. Ruiz showed swelling around both of his eyes as he pressed forward looking to get the stoppage. Both men showed wear and tear and fatigue as they made the final bell. With scores of 117-110 and 118-109 twice judges Lou Moret, Pat Russel and Zachary Young unanimously awarded the decision to Ruiz. Ruiz the rightful winner had his hands full early on and never quite had it easy with a tough opponent who would not go away and threw with power all night long. Not a great fight but an entertaining scrap especially early on this is worth the watch. I recommend at the very least watching the first three or four rounds if you do not have time to get through all twelve. Here is the link for however long PBC allows it to stay up on YouTube so watch it while it lasts.

Final Notes: I watched this on the treadmill while running the duration of the fight for several miles. I did not keep any notes or a written score though I had it 117-110. If I misrepresented a note it is due to memory as I watched it a few hours ago. I also failed to mention Arreola’s shoulder injury that occurred around the eighth round or so but he soldiered on throwing from the injured side. I think this fight did a lot to vindicate Arreola as he went out on a high note. I am not sure whether he has fully retired but he has nothing scheduled and he fought valiantly after some serious preparation. Ruiz somewhat let down here as this was a showcase opportunity that turned into a tougher out than many expected. Yes he won clearly on the cards but the rounds were competitive and he never seemed to have Arreola on the verge. It is June of 2022 and Ruiz has not fought since nor does he have a fight scheduled. With some interesting upheaval at the top of the division and some new blood coming up the ranks it is tough to tell where exactly Ruiz fits in. Then again fans were wondering the same back in 2019 when he shocked the collective boxing world.

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