After more than a year away from the ring, former heavyweight world champion Andy Ruiz Jr is back on track with his eyes firmly “focused on the prize” says his trainer, who also believes that Tyson Fury can provide the inspirational blueprint for a successful comeback.
Ruiz Jr stunned the world in June 2019 when he stopped Anthony Joshua in seven rounds at Madison Square Garden for the IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO belts but a lack of motivation and a party-heavy lifestyle meant that Ruiz turned up to the rematch in Diriyah six months later overweight and a shadow of his former self, conceding the belts in a unanimous decision defeat.
It’s a situation Fury is familiar with. Having been crowned heavyweight champion of the world against Wladimir Klitschko in Dusseldorf in 2015, his own weight ballooned amidst personal mental health battles, but after a stunning comeback over the last few years, the Gypsy King is now the WBC king and is on the verge of a huge unification bout with Joshua later this year.
Ruiz’s trainer, Jorge Capetillo, has trained the Mexican-American for most of his biggest fights and is also close to Fury having worked in the Brit’s corner against Otto Wallin, even saving the 32-year-old from disaster by keeping a horrendous cut above his eye under control. Had Fury not had Capetillo at his side, his unbeaten record might not still be intact.
Having benefited from working with both men and experienced generosity from each, Capetillo believes that if the two men were to meet outside of the ring, it would be invaluable motivation for Ruiz. "It would be huge for me, professional and personally, if they could share the gym, share a chat, share how their families are," Capetillo told Sky Sports about Ruiz Jr and Fury. "It would be positive motivation for Andy.
"Andy knows that Tyson has also taken care of me. Andy speaks highly of Tyson. They share the same faith too.
"Andy, like Tyson, is a man of faith and family. We all make mistakes. They have a good feeling for each other.
"This is what life is about. We make mistakes, we fall down, but we have to get up and move forwards.”
It is important for Capetillo that Ruiz understands that his first win over Joshua wasn’t just luck and that the 31-year-old deserves to be amongst the heavyweight elite. He added, “A fighter never loses because they get knocked down. They lose because they don't get up.
"I want Andy to prove to himself that it was not a lucky shot. Because it was not lucky, let me tell you, because Joshua went down but got back up. Joshua didn't run. But you saw what happened.
"I would love to see Andy as a champion again."