Andy Ruiz Jr. shows resilience in ring return, winning decision over Chris Arreola
SAN DIEGO, Calif. May 1, 2021 – Former world heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. took the first and most important step on the road back to regaining his titles with a solid decision victory over Chris Arreola Saturday in Carson, California. Scores were 118-109 X 2 and 117-110.
Delivering the all-action fight they promised their fans, Ruiz Jr. (34-2, 22 KOs) and Arreola (38-7-1, 33 KOs) thrilled the 3,940 fans in attendance, the first audiences for a boxing event in California since the pandemic shutdown. The crowd was squarely behind Ruiz Jr., but Arreola shut them down with a surprise knockdown in the second round.
But as he did against Anthony Joshua in their first bout, it woke Ruiz Jr. up, and he went on to win every round on two judges’ scorecards and all but one additional round on the third from the point of the knockdown forward. Ruiz Jr. settled down, began to rebuild his offense through boxing behind his jab, and closed distance as he gained confidence. He started putting together impressive combinations.
In the eighth round, Ruiz Jr. connected to Arreola’s shoulder, and he shook it, appearing injured. He said later he felt it. It didn’t stop the fight, but it’s hard to tell whether it slowed Arreola’s punch output down. He lost every round from this point on all three cards.
Ruiz Jr.: ‘Now I have to climb the ladder again’
“We did what we had to do tonight,” said Ruiz Jr. “We got the victory that we wanted. I was at my lowest point, and now I have to climb the ladder again. I’m thankful for the victory, and I’m ready to move on to the next.”
The hand speed Ruiz Jr. has always been known for hasn’t deteriorated, and as Ruiz Jr. continues to train, it will serve him well against more skilled opponents.
“I feel like I could have done a lot more in the gym,” said Ruiz Jr. “The rustiness kind of happened. I couldn’t really get my distance. He did a really good job, I should have put my hands up more, bob and weave.
Of the knockdown, Ruiz Jr. said, “I don’t feel like I was super hurt, but I didn’t see it. I gotta do much better for the next fight and stay busy. For a minute, I think the ring rust and putting my hands down a little bit, I got overconfident, and he caught me with a clean shot.”
Reynoso pleased with Ruiz Jr.’s mentality
Trainer Eddy Reynoso said his team provided Ruiz Jr. discipline and restored his love for boxing.
“Mentally, he’s so far above and behind from the time he lost to Joshua. He’s going to be a world champion once again. We’re going to keep working hard and achieve what he wants to achieve.
“Something Andy told me just now, as soon as this fight was over, he was getting dressed, and he told me, ‘I want to go back to the gym and get to work. That made me so happy. That’s the mentality of a world champion.”
Arreola showed Ruiz Jr. respect for his hand speed and power and didn’t generate anything close to the punch output he did in his record-setting fight against Adam Kownacki in which he threw more than 1,100 punches. Arreola threw 521 punches in this fight, landing 109 (21%), against 161 punches landing out of 626 thrown for Ruiz Jr. (26%).
Arreola: ‘They need some accountability’
After the fight concluded, and later at the post-fight news conference, an outraged Arreola expressed his anger at the scorecards in profane terms, nearly breaking into tears and ripping into the judges.
“He never put me in danger, not once. It’s really dejecting when I don’t get respect from the judge. I was better. That’s the key. I was the better fighter. They didn’t expect this Chris Arreola. No disrespect to him. He came out in great shape. This fighter would beat Anthony Joshua. I was ready for Andy. Everything he had to offer, I was ready for it. Those judges can (use your imagination).
“Honestly, they need some accountability. They need to show me how they judge the rounds like that. Dude, his glove never touched me in my face. These judges leave a sour taste in my mouth. Why am I doing this?”
“I didn’t want to get caught like AJ did. Andy is one of those fighters who gets back up and throws more punches he throws with power. I knew he was hurt, even in the fourth round. That’s boxing, man. I respected his power a little too much and didn’t go for the kill.”
Ruiz Jr. said he thought Arreola who more than two rounds.
” I didn’t fight no bum. He’s a veteran. He trained really hard and prepared for this fight. Chris Arreola did good. He dropped me, but I got back up, pursued, and got the victory.”
Rematch – or Ruiz Jr. vs. Ortiz?
Despite the scorecards, credit Arreola for making Ruiz Jr. earn every round. Watching Ruiz Jr. roll up rounds, a power-punching heavyweight like Arreola is never out of a fight until the final bell. But Arreola was a little too cautious and not busy enough against Ruiz Jr., and it was the difference.
Both men came into the fight in the best shape of their lives, through Ruiz Jr. later said he felt every bit of the ring rust being out of the ring 19 months. At age 40, it’s a shame Arreola found his way to fitness so late in his career.
After the bout, Ruiz Jr. said he knew Cuban heavyweight Luis Ortiz was in the crowd to scout him, and he would be happy to take a fight with Ortiz. Ruiz Jr. also said he isn’t opposed to a rematch with Arreola. For his part, Arreola said he’s like to get a rematch, but will face whoever his promoters want him to fight. He doesn’t seem inclined to retire, and possibly there are a few more fights left in him.
Sebastian Fundora and Jorge Cota put on a Carson classic
Impressive young super welterweight contender Sebastián “The Towering Inferno’’ Fundora (17-0-1, 12 KOs) of Coachella, California, and Jorge “El Demonio’’ Cota of Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico (30-5, 27 KOs) channeled the spirit of Carson in a classic no-holds-barred war to the cheers of the limited crowd in Carson. This is what they came to see.
Fundora landed nearly half of his power punches, and they all had hot sauce on them. Cota showed a good chin and did what he could to fire back, landing several solid counter shots. Fundora’s work rate was just too much for Cota. By the fourth round, the accumulation of nonstop power punches had taken too much out of Cota. Fundora could see he was waning and put together a series of uppercuts and winging left hooks. Referee Ray Corona watched closely for the tipping point and stepped in front of Cota to stop the fight, although not before Cota landed a wicked left hook to Fundora. The time of the stoppage was 2:35 of round four.
Fundora said it was great to be in front of the fans. “It was just good, it’s a good feeling to hear the cheers, the boos, it’s a good feeling to fight in front of people again. I’m honored.”
Fundora said he enjoyed trading shots with Cota.
“You know what, it was a good trading fight. I was hitting him, he was hitting me, but my punches were doing more damage.” Asked whether he thought the fight should have been stopped, Fundora said, “I’m not the referee, I’m the boxer, I do what I’m told. I saw his legs wobble the first round, but he was able to take those punches and make the fight. The second time, I went in for the kill.”
Fundora is a formidable presence in the super welterweight division due to his extreme height at 6-foot-6, and he says he’s willing to take on anyone willing to fight him. “My message to the rest of the division is that we’re here. If you’re ready for war, we’re ready to take it. Bring it on.” At age 23, Fundora is likely to gain strength and mass over the next few years. It will be fun to watch.
Ramos brothers go home with wins
Abel Ramos of Casa Grande, Arizona (27-4-2, 21 KOs) delivered a power punching clinic against an overwhelmed Omar Figueroa, Jr. of Weslaco, Texas (28-2-1, 19 KOs) in the welterweight co-main event. The former champion offered little resistance, staying on his feet through sheer experience and muscle memory. After six rounds and spitting up blood in the corner, referee Jerry Cantu stopped the bout.
“Omar is a very tricky fighter. He has an awkward defense, and it was hard to catch him clean at first, but the fight overall went as planned,” said Ramos. “I trained so hard for this fight. I knew my career was on the line. I knew I needed a win, and I knew Omar would bring a good fight. I’m glad to be back on the winning side, and I’m ready to take on the best of the division. Our plan from the beginning was to pressure him. We wanted to score points to the body. I could hear him groaning, and I knew once I hurt him bad that the fight was over.”
Ramos’ brother Jesus Alejandro Ramos (15-0, 14 KOs) delivered an impressive unanimous decision over Javier Molina of Norwalk (22-4, 9 KOs). Scores were 99-90 X 2 and 97-92. The 20-year-old Ramos did ten solid rounds of work against the sturdy former Olympian and showed tremendous potential to rise to the top of the welterweight division. The cards reflect a point deduction to Molina in the seventh round for hitting Ramos behind the head.
Ramos said he learned a lot going the distance for the second time as a pro. “We love knockouts, but we’re glad at this point in my career that I got the experience. I’m going to keep building on that. I feel like I have a lot of momentum,” said Ramos, happy with his conditioning and movement along with his power.
“My father told me to invite him to come to me,” said Ramos. “We were pressuring him to start. My dad had me change it up. He came in a little bit, but then he backed off. That’s how I tried to counteract his movement.”
Erislandy Lara delivers impressive first-round knockout
WBA Super Welterweight Champion Erislandy Lara of Cuba (28-3-3, 16 KOs) took out Thomas LaManna of New Jersey (30-5-1, 12 KOs) with surprising efficiency in the undercard headline bout for a minor WBA Middleweight title, needing just 1:20 to stop LaManna with an impressive knockout win. Lara landed a straight left to the chin, dropping LaManna so hard the referee immediately waved off the count.
“He said at the press conference that he was going to knock me out, but he ran right into that punch. Maybe he was overthinking it all along,” said Lara after the fight.
“I felt strong and sharp tonight at middleweight, but I still want all of the big fights at 154-pounds too. I want the winner of the Jermell Charlo-Brian Castano unification fight. Charlo is like family, we worked in the same gym for years, but this is a sport, and I’d welcome the challenge.
“I feel great physically,” added Lara. “I’m going to keep doing this until my body tells me I can’t do it anymore. I don’t feel like I’ve taken a lot of punishment in my career, and I know I have at least another three years of my prime left,” said the 38-year-old Cuban veteran.
Eduardo Ramirez stops Issac Avelar in three rounds
Mexican featherweight contender Eduardo Ramirez of Los Mochis (25-2-3, 12 KOs) stopped Isaac Avelar of Mexico (17-3, 10 KOs) in three rounds. Ramirez scoring a knockdown of Avelar, who got to his fee. But the referee called off the bout as he felt Avelar wasn’t in condition to continue.
Ramirez said he was elated to bring home a win in honor of his son Eduardo Jr.’s second birthday. “I wasn’t able to be there to give him a hug for his birthday, but I had promised him that I would bring the title back home to him as a gift, and that is exactly what I’m doing now.
“You have to have a stone-cold mindset, and that’s what we had to finish Avelar off. We were able to connect the right combinations to finish the fight off exactly how we wanted.” Ramirez says he’d love to fight former champion Leo Santa Cruz, saying he finished off mutual opponent Miguel Flores who went the distance against Santa Cruz in five rounds. “This convincing knockout should be my ticket to have that opportunity,” declared Ramirez.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.
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