Its fair to say Andy Ruiz Jr is in a predicament and situation incomparable to his peers. The former world heavyweight champion is licking his wounds following a one-sided rematch defeat to Anthony Joshua in an otherwise historic night in Saudi Arabia on December 7, as he considers his next options.
It’s perhaps easy to forget that not even 12 months ago, the Mexican (33-2) was an unheralded former world title challenger, who lost on a razor-thin decision to Joseph Parker in Auckland in 2016.
However, little else was known, until he was brought to stardom on the back of Jarrell Miller’s failed drugs test and was handed the golden ticket for a Madison Square Garden shot at Anthony Joshua, and the rest is well, history.
The perceived chubby, polite contender who infamously posed with Joshua’s world title belts at the weigh-in in New York had the weight of expectation off his shoulders, but after securing the biggest prize of all and life-changing money, the near-enough over night success was unable to maintain his focus, as the natural lures of acclaim took their toll.
“The Destroyer” assured the media that he’d not been overawed by his new-found fame and that training camp had gone as smoothly as any other under now, former head coach Manny Robles, who confirmed to ESPN that the pair have indeed parted ways following the defeat.
❌ ROBLES CONFIRMS RUIZ JR SPLIT
🥊 Manny Robles has confirmed to ESPN that he has parted ways with former unified heavyweight champion @Andy_destroyer1
— ProBoxingFans (@ProBoxingFans) January 23, 2020
However, the reality painted a far different picture and when the 30-year-old Californian-born came in 15lbs heavier at 20st 3lbs at the weigh-in prior to the rematch, eyebrows were sternly raised.
Both Ruiz and Robles, admitted in the aftermath that he had indeed lost his concentration and drive and instead fell into a heavy partying lifestyle, which ultimately cost him dear, as Joshua kept his composure to claim a dominant points victory in Saudi Arabia.
Whilst the Mexican called for a trilogy battle, the immediate chances of that remain slim, however with a profile now through the roof, he has plenty of options to consider, as he looks at a return in the spring.
Dillian Whyte (27-1, 18 KOs)
Ruiz Jr could be set to make his UK debut against another British heavyweight powerhouse, in Dillian Whyte.
“The Body Snatcher” appears rejuvenated following his victory over Mariusz Wach on the Mexican’s undercard in Saudi Arabia in December, which was preceded by United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) clearing Whyte of all wrongdoing after the Brixton man was charged with an “anti-doping rule violation” following his points win over Oscar Rivas last July.
Sources: Eddie Hearn made a seven-figure offer to Andy Ruiz Jr., for a fight with Dillian Whyte to be staged March 28 or early April in the U.K., on DAZN. Ruiz, of course, lost his heavyweight championship to Anthony Joshua in December. Whyte beat Mariusz Wach on undercard
— Mike Coppinger (@MikeCoppinger) January 14, 2020
The 31-year-old’s promoter Eddie Hearn has already confirmed a seven figure offer has been sent Ruiz’s way, with a date at the O2 arena touted for April.
Whyte was reinstated as the mandatory challenger to Deontay Wilder’s WBC world heavyweight title, however will continue to wait for his opportunity ahead of the Alabama man’s rematch with Tyson Fury, whilst the WBC have stated that he will not receive his shot until 2021.
The Brit is on an 11-fight winning run since his sole defeat to arch rival Anthony Joshua in 2015, however a clash with Ruiz would be an intriguing match-up to see if Whyte could once again defy question marks over his lack of experience and short amateur career to see off yet another dangerous assignment.
The “Destroyer” had over 100 amateur bouts, yet was beaten in the 2008 Olympic Games qualifiers by Rivas, another fighter with huge amateur pedigree, whilst Ruiz was narrowly beaten by another former foe of Whyte’s in Joseph Parker for the WBO Heavyweight crown in 2016. A dogged battle of wits, power and skill would surely ensue.
Joseph Parker (26-2, 20 KOs)
As mentioned, Ruiz’s only other career loss was on a razor-thin decision to Joseph Parker in a world title battle in Auckland.
Many felt the Mexican had done enough to claim a maiden world title and a second bout between the pair has been touted ever since.
Parker was one of very few to give his former opponent a chance against another one of his old foe’s, Joshua at Madison Square Garden before Ruiz upset the odds in astronomical fashion.
The 28-year-old had an inactive 2019, only fighting once in knocking out Alex Leapai before an infamous spider bite ruled him out of a scheduled battler against Dereck Chisora at the O2 Arena in October.
Parker is highly ranked by the WBO, which would provide Ruiz with a perfect opportunity to catapult himself up the rankings immediately with a victory, yet Parker is seemingly chasing a clash with the WBO mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk.
The Ukranian is reportedly close to finalising a March bout with Chisora, meaning Parker could theoretically face his old rival, however he has business to deal with first on the undercard of Mikey Garcia’s battle with Jessie Vargas in Texas on February 29, with an opponent yet to be announced.
Dominic Breazeale (20-2, 18 KOs)
Ruiz’s PBC stablemate Dominic Breazeale could be a smart return fight.
The two-time former world title challenger is at a crossroads in his career following a devastating first round defeat to Deontay Wilder, with the Californian on the wrong end of a showreel knockout at Barclays Center, Brooklyn in May.
The 34-year-old is perhaps at the tail-end of his career and looking to bow out with as much money as he can obtain, whilst being in the biggest fights possible and whilst he wouldn’t pose the threat of some of the other heavyweight contenders, he certainly carries the experience, profile and a bout in New York would make sense, with Breazeale’s last three fights held there.
“Trouble” was hopeful of landing a fight with another potential opponent for Ruiz in rising Polish-American star Adam Kownacki, yet the unbeaten 30-year-old will face seasoned veteran Robert Helenius in March in his tenth fight at the Barclays Center.
Luis Ortiz (31-2, 26 KOs)
Another huge fight and opportunity could present itself in two-time world title challenger, Luis Ortiz.
The veteran Cuban was in a commanding position against Wilder in their rematch in November, before the American put the bout beyond any reasonable doubt with a huge right hand to retain his WBC title in the seventh round.
However, Ortiz proved his fearsome reputation even at 40-years-old and it appears he is set to continue despite a second professional defeat.
It would be a huge statement if Ruiz decided to tackle the tricky southpaw and would highlight an immense amount of courage to face the heavyweight ‘boogeyman,’ whilst a victory would catapult him straight back into title contention.
Despite holding his own against Wilder, you question how much is left in the tank for “King Kong” and whether he can continue to defy question marks over his age, however it generally seems the last aspect a fighter loses is their power and with 26 knockouts to his name Ortiz would still prove a stern test.
However, the Cuban will be naturally much slower and you’d anticipate far easier to nail than he once was, so now might be the perfect time for Ruiz to pounce and regain those who turned their back following his reasons for defeat to Joshua.