We look at three pivotal fights on Andy Ruiz Jr record as the Mexican-American prepares to challenge unified world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua on Saturday
With his short-notice challenge to unified world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua now just days away, we took a closer look at Andy Ruiz Jr’s record and picked out three key fights that may give us some idea about his chances in MSG on Saturday night.
W rsf 4 vs Joe Hanks, July 27 2013, Macao
Both fighters were unbeaten going in at the Venetian Resort, and Hanks - taller, older, more experienced and a talented prospect in his own right - was favoured by some. The pressure was on the two men but Ruiz Jr, then just 23, dominated from the start, using superior handspeed to land at will. The finishing right-left in round four is an eye-catching highlight worth watching again and illustrates how dangerous Ruiz Jr can be at close quarters.
L MD 12 vs Joseph Parker, December 10 2016, New Zealand
This performance says a great deal about Ruiz Jr, both good and bad. Taking on a then-21-0 Joseph Parker for the vacant WBO heavyweight title, in the New Zealander’s hometown no less, Andy was really up against it. Therefore, on the positive side, Ruiz Jr showed immense composure and steely determination to outbox the favourite for long periods and push him exceptionally close on the cards. On the flipside, however, in his biggest opportunity to date, Ruiz Jr failed to press home his early advantage in the middle rounds of the contest, allowing Parker to rally and ultimately edge the verdict. Sure, we give Parker credit for gradually working his opponent out, but Ruiz seemed to fade in the face of retaliation, which may give Joshua, invariably disciplined and consistent, increased confidence.
W Rtd 5 vs Alexander Dimitrenko, April 20 2019, Carson, California
Now, no one is confusing Dimitrenko with a world-beater or indeed a fighter in his prime, but this victory is included for a couple of important reasons. One, it is Ruiz Jr’s most recent fight so gives us the best idea of his current form and style. Two, it was only six weeks ago, further highlighting how Joshua may be at a disadvantage, having not boxed since last September. Finally, Dimitrrenko is an inch taller than Joshua at 6ft 7ins and has the same reach, providing some evidence of how Ruiz Jr deals with a significantly larger adversary, albeit a technically inferior one. The 36-year-old Russian-born German had been stopped by Bryant Jennings in his previous fight but remains a huge guy with a good jab. He caused a welt under Ruiz Jr’s eye but was constantly pushed back as Andy mixed it proficiently up to head and body. Dimitrenko’s corner withdrew their man after a particularly punishing fifth round. I can envisage Ruiz Jr having similar success against Joshua, who can be a touch mechanical, early on, coming around the jab to land fast combinations. He will need consistency, durability and mental strength to complete the arduous task, however.