Over the course of three fights, Andy Ruiz has gone from underdog, to champion, to disappointment, to a man in search of a comeback. But the comeback starts well.
Ruiz (34-2, 22 KOs) recorded his first victory in nearly two years on Saturday when he defeated Chris Arreola (38-6-1, 33 KOs) via unanimous decision in a 12-round, non-title heavyweight fight. All three judges scored the match, which took place at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, for Ruiz via scores of 118-109, 118-109 and 117-110.
It was an important night for Ruiz, 31, who upset Anthony Joshua to become the first Mexican heavyweight champion in boxing in 2019 to only give his titles back in an instant rematch. After his weight ballooned to 31
“Chris had it all. He’s a veteran and a tough puncher,” Ruiz said. “We did what we had to do and we won the victory. Remember, I was the lowest and I had to come back. We did what we had to do. Thank God we got this victory and on to the next.”
Although the judges’ score showed a dominant evening of Ruiz, it was anything but easy. Arreola, 40, of Los Angeles knocked Ruiz down early in the second round with a right hand. Ruiz recovered, but Arreola injured him again at the end of the second and at the beginning of the third. The early offense drew a high response from the sold-out crowd of 3,940.
“He caught me with a good right hand, I dropped my hands a little,” Ruiz said. “I was way too confident. The top of him. Chris caught me with a good one, but I kept going. I felt a little rusty and I know other warriors can relate to that.”
After the first adversity, however, Ruiz settled down nicely. He started targeting the body more in the fourth round and let his jab take over in the seventh. Halfway through the latter round, Arreola waved and twisted his left shoulder in an apparent injury. He shook his left arm out again in the 11th round, but told referee Jack Reiss and fans afterwards that he was fine.
“I was hit a few times in the shoulder and it threw it off a bit. No big deal, it’s part of boxing,” Arreola said. “I absolutely respect the judges, but today – I will always say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, they like butter today, everything is beautiful, but their face. Did he win? Fine. But do not tell me you I only want give me two or three rounds. “
This is not the first time Ruiz survives an early knockdown in a big match. When he upset Joshua in 2019, he recovered from a knockdown in the third round and knocked Joshua down twice in the same frame. Arreola’s shots were certainly significant, but as the fight progressed, his body, Arreola’s age and potentially the shoulder injury deprived him of his pop.