Unified boxing world champion Anthony Joshua will make his United States debut on June 1, 2019 at New York’s fabled Madison Square Garden. AJ was supposed to fight Brooklyn native Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller on that event but after the American failed three VADA drug tests, he was removed from the contest.
With the clock moving fast, the promoters searched for the best possible replacement opponent for AJ. They ended up picking Andy Ruiz Jr. :
“This is the next best shot — who else is there? If anyone could name anyone who was better, then I was all ears. But when we looked at the scope of who was available, this was the next best one….Similar styles, big and strong, very good with his punch selection and it’s still going to go ahead at MSG on June 1,” Joshua said of Ruiz Jr.
But who is Andy Ruiz Jr? Let’s find out more about him before placing your boxing bet.
Mexican-American Andy Ruiz Jr. was born on September 11,1989 in Imperial Valley, California to construction company owner Andres Ruiz and housewife Felicitas Ruiz. Andy was the middle child of the family as he has a younger brother and an older sister. He is the only boxer in his family although his grandfather used to be a boxing trainer.
Early Boxing Career
Because he was a troublemaker when he was a kid, Andres Ruiz brought his son to the gym at the age of six to train. By seven, Andy had his first bout. Ruiz was a former amateur standout. Trained by Cuban Fernando Ferrer, Ruiz amassed an amateur record of 150-5. The fighter now known to fans as “The Destroyer” because of his punching power went on to win gold in the heavyweight division of the 2005 Mexican Junior National Championship. In 2007 and 2008, he also captured gold in the 201+ division of the Mexican National Championships. He joined the Mexican Olympic team and fought in several Olympic Qualifying tournaments.
Ruiz turned pro and spent the next two years training under the guise of Freddie Roach. But at that time, Roach had his hands full with Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan, so after having Roach as trainer for the first 11 fights of his professional career, Ruiz found his way to Top Rank where the promotion offered help in the persons of trainer Miguel Diaz and former world champion Richie Sandoval. Ruiz also trained under “Big” Jeff Gmorja and Abel Sanchez while his current trainer is Manny Robles who has worked with current and former world champions like Oscar Valdez and Jessie Magdaleno.
A 19-year old Ruiz made his professional boxing debut on March 28, 2009 in four-round bout in Tijuana, Mexico against Miguel Ramirez. He won the fight via first round knockout. Ruiz returned to the ring three months later to record another first round TKO, this time against Ross Brantley. After going the distance against Juan Luis Lopez Alcaraz in February 2010, Ruiz started to fight in the United States.
Ruiz first got noticed when he knocked out Elijah McCall, the son of former world champion Oliver McCall, within three rounds. Ruiz put on a beating on the young McCall and referee Kenny Bayless called a halt to the bout after McCall could no longer defend himself. It was also at that fight where Ruiz’s hand speed was noticed. He had extremely fast hands for a very big guy.
Andy Ruiz Jr. tale of the tape
- Age: 29
- Birthplace: Imperial, California
- Nationality: Mexican
- Nickname: “Destroyer”
- Division: Heavyweight
- Height: 6’2″
- Reach: 74″
- Stance: Orthodox
- Career record: 32-1 (21 Knockouts)
Moving Up The Ladder
On July 27, 2013, Ruiz would win his first title. The Destroyer traveled to Macau to score a fourth round stoppage of then-unbeaten Joe Hanks. Ruiz would claim the WBO inter-continental title with that win. In his next bout, he fought again at the Cotai Arena in Macau in the Pacquiao-Rios undercard. Ruiz would add the NABF heavyweight belt to his collection as he defeated Tor Hammer after the latter retired on his stool after three rounds.
Ruiz also owns victories over former WBO heavyweight champion Siarhei Liakhovich and former world title challenger Ray Austin. Ruiz was booked to fight Hughie Fury in the undercard of the cancelled Tyson Fury vs Wladimir Klitschko rematch. When Tyson Fury vacated the WBO belt during his dark times, Ruiz was ordered to fight Joseph Parker of New Zealand for the belt.
On December 20, 2016, Ruiz faced Parker for the WBO title in New Zealand. Ruiz started out well as he was the aggressor and set the pace with his jab. However, he slowed down in the middle rounds and Parker went on to win a close but clear unanimous decision with the scores of 115-113,115-112 and 114-114. Ruiz suffered the first defeat of his professional boxing career.
Since that defeat, Ruiz has fought a total of three times. He knocked out Devin Vargas in Round 1 then went the 10-round distance to outpoint journeyman Kevin Johnson. After signing with Al Haymon and the Premier Boxing Champions, Ruiz retired Alexander Dimitrenko after five rounds. Ruiz was eyeing a showdown with the unbeaten Adam Kownacki when Eddie Hearn rang him about fighting Anthony Joshua. Now Ruiz is headlining a DAZN card on June 1st against the unified heavyweight boxing champion of the world.
Can He Beat Anthony Joshua?
Ruiz is a heavy betting underdog in his upcoming bout with Anthony Joshua. But just because he is such, don’t count him out in this contest yet. Ruiz has been doubted from the very first day he turned professional. And why not? He looks more like a young sumo wrestler than he is a boxer. But don’t let his chubby frame fool you. He is no slouch and not a pushover. He is a very skilled and intelligent fighter who also has a big punch.
Ruiz has tremendous hand speed and very good punching accuracy for a heavyweight. Defensively, he has excellent head movement that helps him avoid getting hit with the jab. He also knows how to use crafty angles like a smaller fighter. But his best defense is probably his offense.
Ruiz likes to outwork his opponents inside the ring. Those who don’t see his punches coming have hit the deck. He has true knockout power but is able to adjust and box his way to victory if the knockout does not present itself. He’s a big guy on the average but he’s facing a very big opponent in Anthony Joshua. AJ is four inches taller and eight inches longer than Ruiz.
A lot of people are expecting Joshua to stop Andy Ruiz Jr. but the truth is if Joshua makes a mistake, Ruiz can put him to sleep as well. I would say a knockout would be his best chance because although he is well-skilled, Joshua is just too physically big to outbox. Ruiz will need to get into the trenches and go to war and you bet he will be ready, baby fats and all.
It’s going to be an interesting fight on June 1st. In fact, Ruiz may have made it even more interesting. Big Baby Miller would have fought one-way and AJ would have knocked him out early. But the Mexican-American Andy Ruiz Jr. is going to be in this fight, giving Joshua the challenge that he asked for.