Andy Ruiz Jr is finally set to return to the ring after 16 months away when he takes on fellow Californian heavyweight Chris Arreola in a pay-per-view bout on April 24.
Ruiz, the first person of Mexican descent to win the world heavyweight title, last fought in December 2019 when he lost his rematch with Anthony Joshua in Diriyah, subsequently relinquishing the titles he’d snatched from the British heavyweight six months earlier. The two were initially set to meet at some point last summer before the coronavirus pandemic brought a halt to it.
It’s an intriguing match-up between the two Americans and a welcome return to the ring for one of the most talented men in boxing’s marquee division but questions will be asked over whether it deserves its billing as a PPV event. There’s no word on who’ll broadcast the fight in the UK, but over in the States, the card, which will be shown live on FOX Sports, will come with a price tag.
Of the two Americans you could perhaps make an argument for Ruiz Jr being worthy of a PPV billing if he was fighting another highly-ranked heavyweight but in Arreola, himself 16 months out of action and also coming off a loss, the choice is peculiar. Arreola, a veteran among the heavyweights, will be 40 by the time this fight happens and more than two years removed from his last professional victory (although he did manage to throw over 1,000 punches in his defeat to Adam Kownacki last time out). In fact, you’d have to go all the way back to the beginning of 2012 to find his last win over a ‘named’ opponent, when he stopped Eric Molina.
The headline fight itself is not a bad one on paper, and gives Ruiz Jr, who is looking in phenomenal shape at the moment, a chance to shine under new trainer Eddy Reynoso, who also trains Mexican superstar Canelo. Should Ruiz emerge victorious in April then a potential showdown with Deontay Wilder, who’s been similarly inactive over the last year, could be on the cards.
There’s no word on the rest of the event just yet, however The Athletic’s Mike Coppinger has reported that the undercard will have a “heavy Mexican influence.” It will have to be one hell of a show to justify splashing the cash.