Andy Ruiz Jr: Building from foundationWritten by Bernard Campbell
American Heavyweight contender and former title challenger Andy Ruiz, 30-1-(20) continues to trek to the Heavyweight title when he faces former title challenger Kevin Johnson, 32-9-1 (16) July 7th at the Save Mart Arena in Fresno, California.
"I had my first amateur fight at 7, the people that were in charge put me in the ring with 10 and 11 year olds because I was a big kid for my age and I would match up appropriately in that weight group,” Ruiz told FightSaga.
His father, a contractor, noticed that his 6 year old son was wild and hyperactive so he entered him in a boxing program to channel his energy.
Andy would eventually run his amateur record to 150-5, culminating in a trip to the Olympic qualifiers in Beijing, China representing Mexico.
Freddie Roach eventually took him under his wing and became his trainer and Andy sparred with the likes of James Toney, fine tuning his skills of speed, combinations, and power.
Climbing the ladder in the pro ranks, his opponents have included Elijah McCall (The former Heavyweight Champion's son), Joe Hanks, Sirhei Liakovich (who Andy stated was the hardest hitter he ever faced), Tor Hamer, Ray Austin, and Franklin Lawrence.
Andy had run his record to 29-0 when he got the call to fight the big Heavyweight contender Hughie Fury but that fight would be canceled due to a disagreement on purse sums
"The fight was to be in the UK and the money that they were willing to pay me was an insult."
The mandate then came from the WBO to fight Joseph Parker, 24-0 (18) in New Zealand for its version of the heavyweight title.
"The people in New Zealand were very gracious and welcoming; the only problem is that I had 6 weeks to prepare and I didnt train as I would have liked to. It took some time to adjust to training there.”
The fight was extremely close, resulting in a Majority decision in favor of Parker with scores of 115-113, 115-113 and 114-114 even.
After the fight, and despite Ruiz's elevated stock, he took a 14 month layoff before fighting 2004 US Olympic Captain Devin Vargs, 20-5 (8).
“I wanted to rest, I had 30 fights under my belt, I was only 27 at the time, I started a business building houses and spent more time with my family".
The fight with Vargas lasted less than one round compliments of a right cross to the temple from Ruiz that sent Vargas to the canvas like a ton of bricks.
The fight was promoted by Top Rank but wasn’t televised by ESPN which chose to broadcast two other fights of lighter weight on that card.
"I have two fights left on my contract with Top Rank. I would like to fight people like Tyson Fury, Gerald Washington, Dominic Breazeale, Jarrell Miller or Alexander Povetkin at this point. I want big money fights, to fight in big arenas. I know my value, I can beat these guys.”
In an eventual meeting between Champions Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua, Andy gives the edge to Wilder.