Andy Ruiz Jr made his return to action for the first time in well over a year, and he had to climb off the canvas before taking a points win over the tough gatekeeper and former three time Heavyweight title challenger, Chris Arreola.
Ruiz was of course coming off a layoff stretching back to December 2019, where he turned in a lethargic performance, and a blown up physique, in shipping the WBA (Super), IBF and WBO titles in a rematch to Anthony Joshua in Saudi Arabia.
Arreola had been absent from the ring for even longer, his last outing a thrilling loss on the cards to Adam Kownacki, in which he broke the Compubox record for punches thrown in a Heavyweight contest.
Both came into this one in arguably the best conditions of their careers, and it represented a chance to come back into the mix at the top level, with the fight serving as an eliminator for the WBA world title.
The two met in the centre of the ring to begin the bout, and Ruiz inched his way in, landing with some winging hooks, while Arreola made a measured start, studying his opponent in the opening frame with little punch success.
That all changed with a minute gone in the second, when Arreola connected with a short, chopping right hand that dropped Ruiz to the deck. He comfortably beat the count, and the knockdown ignited the fight as the two began to trade punches, and Ruiz was caught again towards the end of the round.
Ruiz was again all at sea in round three, as a hard left hook dipped his knees and had him disorientated, but he stuck to his boxing to regain his senses and negotiate the rest of the session, although the pair opened up to end the three minutes, where ‘The Nightmare’ shook his head as if to illustrate that he wasn’t being hurt at all by the former world champion.
After a quieter fourth, the duo again took turns to open up in the fifth, where Ruiz landed with a combination that stiffened the legs of Arreola right at the end of the round.
‘The Destroyer’ re-established his jab in the sixth, and he was starting to time Chris a lot more than before as the 40-year-old slowed his pace slightly as the fight reached its second half. Arreola though had come to win, and landed a good right hand in the eighth, but as both men went to throw shots, Arreola pulled away with his left arm or shoulder seemingly in pain. Ruiz jumped on the apparent injury, and fired off stinging combinations.
Ruiz was turning the screw, and pushing his fellow Californian back with some hard combos in a ninth round that he controlled.
Arreola’s inability to use his injured arm was allowing Andy to dictate the action, and he targeted the body more than before in the tenth.
Again, Arreola shook his stricken arm out in pain in the penultimate round during an exchange, and his challenge was in danger of petering out as the clash went to the final frame. Ruiz finished strongly, not allowing Arreola to land anything significant as the fun fight went to the scorecards.
Two scores of 118-109, and a third at 117-110 ensured Ruiz’s comeback was a successful one.
“Chris Arreola is a hard puncher, but remember, I was at the lowest of the low, and I had to come and climb my way back up the ladder,” said the victor to Fox post fight.
“I’m thankful of the victory, and I’m ready to move onto the next.”
Chief support came at Welterweight, where Abel Ramos caused a minor upset, busting up Omar Figueroa and forcing the Texan to retire in his corner after six tough rounds.
Erislandy Lara wasted little time in picking up the vacant WBA Middleweight title, as the Cuban became a two-weight world champion with a one round knockout of the hopelessly overmatched Thomas Lamanna.
It took Lara just over a minute to assert his superiority, when a left hand thrown from near his waist detonated right on the temple of Lamanna, and a count wasn’t required to give the slick southpaw ‘American Dream’ the devastating win. Lamanna was down for sometime after the fight, but thankfully made it to his feet.
Fun to watch Californian based Super Welterweight, Sebastian Fundora, needed four rounds to see off Jorge Cota in their scheduled twelve rounder that was also a WBC title eliminator.
A left hand got Cota going, and, as he decided to trade with Fundora, the 23-year-old landed some sledgehammer like left hands that forced the referee to intervene, although the decision looked a slightly early one. The blows Cota was taking at the time though were heavy ones.
Jesus Alejandro Ramos remained unbeaten, as he took a ten round decision win at Super Welterweight against Javier Molina. Two scores of 98-90, and a third at 97-92 ensured Ramos moved to 16-0 as he went the distance for only the second time in his paid career.
Eduardo Ramirez picked up the interim WBA Featherweight title with a third round stoppage of Isaac Avelar.
Avelar was down in the third from a massive Ramirez right hand, and although he beat the count, he was on unsteady legs and ‘Zurdito’ finished the job on the resumption, with Avelar stopped while on his feet as more jarring Ramirez shots came in.
Adrian Granados held Jose Luis Sanchez to a draw over eight rounds at Welterweight, while at Heavyweight, Carlos Negron took an eight round decision against Scott Alexander.
At Lightweight, Fernando Angel Molina took all six rounds against Prisco Marquez, and Anthony Garcia knocked Jesse Bazzi down in the opener on the way to a four round points success.