Hot Boxing Prospects: Episode 8

Hot Boxing Prospects – It’s Tuesday and that means another installment of our weekly series “Rising Stars in Boxing.” This week our analysts Kid Hersh and Matt Andrzejewski turn their lenses toward a Mexican-American heavyweight who has been taking baby steps as he advances toward the big stage and a young man who will be in action this Friday on SHOWTIME, a big puncher who just may be the next big thing to bubble out of the rich boxing soil of Kazakhstan. Kid Hersh gets us started with a look at Andy Ruiz.

Hot Boxing Prospects –  ANDY RUIZ

Andy Ruiz seems to have a bit of an identity crisis about him.  His nickname has changed from “Baby Face” to “The Destroyer”, he has changed trainers multiple times, and his weight fluctuates as much or more than fellow heavyweight Chris Arreola whom we all know has serious issues with dedication to the gym on a consistent basis.

Despite all this, it’s hard to question Ruiz’s determination. Even when his weight has seriously fluctuated from one fight to the next, he has looked pretty solid – never really completely gassing out.  One could look at his opponents’ records for the answer to that conundrum, but this writer thinks that the problem lies somewhere outside of the gym – not in getting Ruiz to it.

It’s easy to see the skills of Ruiz in the ring as the big man puts together beautifully straight and accurate combinations with his blazing fast hands.  He has an outstanding feel of distance and timing for his punches that stem from an excellent amateur career.  Ruiz fought on the Mexican Olympic team in 2008 – finding his way to the quarterfinals before losing to Columbian Oscar Rivas.  In addition, he was a gold medalist in every Mexican National Championship tournament he every fought in.

Boxing comes very natural for Ruiz who started boxing at age six and had his first amateur bout at the ripe old age of seven. In the paid ranks Andy has a perfect record of 28-0 with 19 wins via the knockout route.

I know what you are thinking; is this guy really a prospect?  Debatable, as he hasn’t been seriously tested, but he passed his most difficult tests with mostly flying colors. The big stumbling block was the Siarhei Liakhovich fight just before Christmas of 2014 where his weight was up and he looked sluggish, but yet was able to win a clear unanimous decision. He was expected to stop the “White Wolf” but hurt his hand in the second round and was forced to fight injured.  Credit should be given for still mostly dominating the fight – albeit not in a totally dominating fashion.

The heavyweight division is getting very exciting nowadays ever since Tyson Fury shook up the scene.  Andy Ruiz has something big to offer to the upcoming talent crop and I believe he is being overlooked.  He isn’t just another out-of-shape heavyweight with a pretty record that is going to get run over.  Think about it; isn’t it interesting that he may just have the most boxing experience out of the entire crop of new age heavies?  He has already been boxing for two decades and it shows.  In his recent fights where his weight looked well-managed, he added more subtle defense and head movement to his arsenal.  This is a heavyweight prospect to really keep an eye on. – KID HERSH

Hot Boxing Prospects – BAKHTIYAR EYUBOV

Hailing from Kazakhstan, Bakhtiyar Eyubov is quickly emerging as one of boxing’s top prospects. Fighting as a Super Lightweight, Eyubov has compiled an early career record of 10-0 with all of his wins coming by way of knockout. Signed with Salita Promotions, the future looks very bright for this young power punching prospect.

Eyubov had a solid amateur background with somewhere around 150 fights under his belt. He turned pro in 2012 but found it difficult to get fights with his power punching reputation. So he often took fights well above his natural weight class just to get inside the ring. Now with the backing of Salita Promotions, Eyubov is getting the opportunities he deserves on television and at his natural weight.

In his last fight, Eyubov took a big step up in competition facing ring veteran Jared Robinson. Robinson is known as a slick boxer with good speed and some thought his style could pose some issues for the aggressive Eyubov. However, Eyubov put immediate pressure on Robinson in round one and dropped him early with a thunderous left hook. Robinson somehow survived that knockdown but was put down again at the end of the round with an overhand right. There would be another knockdown of Robinson in the second round, and eventually in the third Eyubov forced the referee to stop the fight. It was an impressive power punching display — the kind of performance that opened a lot of eyes.

As his record indicates, the biggest strength of Eyubov is his natural power. He has legitimate one punch power in both hands. Eyubov is also well-schooled. He is very adept at subtly shifting his feet while on the inside to create the right angle to land his power shots with the most efficiency. Defensively, Eyubov moves his head very well and does not provide an easy target for his opponents to land.

As with many short compact power punchers, Eyubov has a tendency to abandon his jab when pressing forward. As he faces better competition, he will need to utilize the jab more to work his way inside. Also, he tends to leave his hands down when moving forward. This can be a tactic to try to get his opponents to open up but can also be dangerous. This will need to be tightened up as the competition improves.

Eyubov is a prospect that with his explosive punching power has a very high ceiling. He is being moved relatively quickly now that he is with Salita Promotions and is taking a big step up in class this Friday night in Rochester, NY on Showtime when he faces Karim Mayfield. Mayfield is a tricky veteran who has faced big punchers in the past and never been knocked out. He is also not an easy fighter to look good against. It is a very intriguing matchup and should be an excellent test for the young prospect from Kazakhstan. – MATT ANDRZEJEWSKI

Hot Boxing Prospects