Andy Ruiz: Why fans should expect AJ trilogy before Joshua vs Wilder
Six months ago, professional heavyweight Andy Ruiz went from relative obscurity to mainstream celebrity with one truly outstanding performance. To most observers, his rise to fame seemingly happened overnight. In reality, it took the humble Hispanic fighter over a decade of blood, sweat, and tears to finally receive his golden opportunity on the biggest stage of the sport.
But in boxing, as in life, everything can come crashing down again with one momentary lapse in judgment.
On Saturday, December 7th, the man Andy defeated to fulfill his dream of becoming heavyweight champion of the world beat him soundly in the highly anticipated rematch. Anthony Joshua thoroughly outboxed the former champion to earn a wide unanimous decision victory.
While losing "fair and square" is a healthy and natural part of any pastime, Ruiz shamefully seemed to lose his coveted titles by his own doing. Without taking away any credit from the newly crowned champ, who put on a truly masterful performance, Andy admittedly ate and drank himself out of championship contention.
"For this fight, I was overweight," Andy Ruiz humbly stated during the post-fight press conference. "I should have listened to my team and trained harder. He won one...I won one. So let's do the trilogy."
In boxing, most fans seem to suffer from a "pile-on" or "herd" mentality, and it's become en vogue to verbally bash the former champion after his humiliating defeat.
In the words of Greta Thunberg: "How dare you!"
"Shame on you," collectively said the always critical fans of boxing. "How can you expect another massive payday opposite Anthony Joshua after admittedly being lazy and not training properly for a guaranteed multi-million dollar payday?!!"
To Andy's defense, he's not the first, nor will he be the last champion of boxing to take his newly found fame for granted or an opponent way too lightly.
It happened to Mike Tyson before his first professional defeat to the unlikely James "Buster" Douglas. It more recently happened to Hasim Rahman before his rematch with heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis.
In both of the aforementioned scenarios, "Iron" Mike and "Hematoma" Hasim both partied like it was 1999 before their respective Waterloos and paid dearly for the lapse in judgment.
Despite being aware of this terribly common story in boxing, the unforgiving fans of the sport will still regurgitate that the portly Mr. Ruiz doesn't deserve a rubber match with the now two-time Heavyweight champion...while shaking their collective finger in shame.
Although fight fans are indeed the real bosses of the sport, demand dictates whether or not a fighter continually receives opportunities in boxing. Despite losing his most recent PPV effort in shame, Andy Ruiz remains one of the most recognizable Heavyweight names to the mainstream and casual audience.
Promoter Eddie Hearn understands this concept better than most. When asked after Joshua/Ruiz 2 whether or not he would be interested in working with the California based fighter again, he gave a very quick and honest response.
"I'd love to work with Andy," stated Eddie Hearn to iFL TV. "Dillian Whyte's a great fight. Usyk is a great fight. Hrgovic is a great fight. Hunter's a great fight. Povetkin is a great fight."
"He's signed to PBC, so it's very unlikely that he's going to come and sign with me. I think he's with Tom Brown Promotions as well. But I would love to have him on DAZN. DAZN did huge buys last time...big sign-ups."
When asked more specifically if he would be opposed to staging a third fight between Joshua and Ruiz, the managing director of Matchroom Sport gave a more specific answer.
"No," stated Hearn. "Obviously he (Joshua) has things to take care of now...mainly with his mandatories. But if Andy Ruiz keeps winning, I don't see why we can't do a third fight."
Numbers don't lie.
According to most die-hard fight fans, Deontay Wilder is the man to beat in the Heavyweight division and is most deserving of a big fight with Anthony Joshua. The current WBC champ is not only undefeated but is viewed arguably as the hardest puncher in the popular weight class. Yet his most recent event only recorded 225K PPV buys, and sold around 7400 tickets for the live show.
While official numbers haven't been released for this past Saturday's fight card, the figures are expected to dwarf Wilder vs Ortiz 2 in comparison.
"Just a monstrous success," Hearn stated when describing the overnight figures of Joshua vs Ruiz 2.
"It's massive when Sky (Sports) comes in and says we broke the (PPV) record and then DAZN comes in and says the numbers in America were huge."
When one considers that Joshua/Ruiz 2 was going up against huge NCAA matchups on free TV on a Saturday afternoon in America, it says quite a bit about the draw of both fighters.
In the immortal words of Floyd "Money" Mayweather: "If it makes dollars, it makes sense!"
In retrospect, Hearn had nothing but good things to say about AJ's business partner throughout the past 6 months.
"I want to say 'Thank You' to Andy Ruiz. He's a very nice man. And I'm really pleased that he's made a lot of money in six months...a lot of money, and it's going to change his life forever. He would never have to work another day again if he didn't want to. I'm very happy that he got the opportunity."
"If we were going to lose on June 1st, I'm glad we lost to him."
Fight fans and critics shouldn't be surprised if Andy Ruiz Jr. gets a third match with Anthony Joshua before Deontay Wilder receives his first.