Heavyweight Hopeful Andy Ruiz Takes His Act on the Road. Is he a Live Dog?

ANDY RUIZ vs. JOSEPH PARKER — In boxing the “home field advantage” looms large. Indeed, professional oddsmakers assign more weight to the home field advantage in boxing than to any other sport. At New York’s fabled Stillman’s Gym, an old-school fight manager was heard talking on the phone to an out-of-town promoter in need of an opponent for his next show. “Level with me,” said the fight manager, “if we win, can we get a draw?”

Andres Ponce “Andy” Ruiz Jr. would seem to be at a severe disadvantage this weekend when he locks horns with Auckland’s Joseph Parker in Auckland for the vacant WBO world heavyweight title. Ruiz, born in the Sonoran Desert community of Imperial, California, and raised largely in Mexico, has ventured a long ways from home. A non-stop flight from LAX to Auckland is in the sky for roughly 12 hours. Passengers cross 21 time zones. It was Sunday in New Zealand when Ruiz landed in Auckland and the consensus among betting men was that he would have been wiser to arrive a few days earlier to better re-set his biological clock.

Nonetheless, the view from here is that the oddsmakers may have overreacted in establishing Joseph Parker a 7/2 favorite – which isn’t to suggest that we have a good read on the relative merits of the two gladiators. What we have here is a very intriguing fight, but a fight that is basically a crossroads fight between two rising contenders that just happens to have the words “world title” printed on the label.

Parker (21-0, 18 KOs) was born in Auckland to immigrants from Samoa. At 6-foot-4, he’s two inches taller than Ruiz and has a longer reach. Coming up the ladder, he feasted on mildewed meat. His victims included 42-year-old Sherman Williams, 44-year-old Frans Botha, and 45-year-old Kali Meehan. In his last outing, he demolished Alexander Dimitrenko in a bout stopped in the third round. It was a smashing performance but Dimitrenko, a 15-year veteran, wasn’t as good as his 34-2 record and hadn’t defeated anyone of note since being stopped by Kubrat Pulev.

Parker is trained by Kevin Barry. If the name seems familiar, this is the same Kevin Barry who defeated Evander Holyfield by disqualification in the semifinal round of the 1984 Olympics. Holyfield knocked him out with a massive left hook, but the Yugoslavian referee, to the amazement of the spectators, decided that the punch had landed after he had commanded the fighters to break.

In the U.S., Barry will always be remembered for this incident, one of the more egregious heists in the besotted history of Olympic boxing, but in New Zealand and Australia he is renowned as the top boxing coach in the Antipodes, as was his father before him.

Barry’s former pupils include David Tua, who knocked out five men who at various times held a version of the world heavyweight title. Joseph Parker, says Barry, doesn’t hit as hard as Tua but has faster hands and is a more well-rounded boxer who is more dedicated to the sport.

When it comes to fast hands, however, Parker may take a back seat to Andy Ruiz who at age 27 (three years older than Parker) is still in his prime. When enumerating his plusses, Ruiz’s boosters always begin the conversation by touting his hand speed. He’s also light on his feet, notwithstanding his chubby torso. The problem is that he competes in a sport that requires great dedication. Ruiz (29-0, 19 KOs) weighed close to 300 pounds in his earliest fights and while he has pared down considerably to where he now fights around 250, there’s still a roll of flab around his midsection.

Ruiz’s last three fights were against men in their forties, specifically Ray Austin (45), Josh Gormley (42), and Franklin Lawrence who at age 40 was two weeks shy of his forty-first birthday.

When one observes this pattern in a fighter with a solid record, particularly a heavyweight, it’s a fair guess that he is being fattened up to serve as fodder for a rising contender overseas. But Andy Ruiz is promoted by Top Rank which doesn’t play this game (they will import fighters with misleading records, but they don’t export them).

Ruiz comes out of a hot barn. When the Parker-Ruiz deal was made, Bob Arum made arrangements for Ruiz to live and train at Abel Sanchez’s compound in Big Bear, California. Sanchez doesn’t run a frat house. He famously shooed Sergey Kovalev away because Kovalev, in his words, “just wasn’t a good fit.”

Top Rank matchmaker Brad Goodman recently had this to say: “With Andy now being up in Big Bear and training with Abel Sanchez, I think he is a completely different fighter with his confidence levels, his dedication and the proper sparring…Throughout his career, the one thing Andy had problems with was dedication. He was always the boss, always wanted to go with his time, do whatever he wanted, slack off if he wanted to. But Abel doesn’t play any games like that…it’s either his way or you’re out of there.”

Stuart Duncan, Goodman’s counterpart with Duco, Joseph Parker’s promoter, discounted Sanchez’s influence. “You can’t transform a boxer in 60 days and that’s all he had with Ruiz,” said Duncan, who noted that in the pecking order at Sanchez’s compound, Ruiz played third fiddle to Gennady Golovkin and Murat Gassiev.

Sanchez wasn’t with Ruiz when Ruiz arrived in New Zealand with his parents and assorted functionaries in tow. Sanchez wasn’t done taking care of business in Moscow where Gassiev toppled Denis Lebedev to win the IBF cruiserweight title. The previous week Sanchez was in Las Vegas where he worked the corner of super welterweight Konstantin Ponomarev who kept his unbeaten record intact on the Lomachenko-Walters card, and the week before that he sat ringside in Las Vegas with Gennady Golovkin watching the Kovalev-Ward fight. One suspects that his biological clock might be a little off-kilter.

Bob Arum, who recently promoted his 2000th boxing event, celebrated his 85th birthday (Thursday, Dec. 8) in Auckland. The assumption was that Arum wouldn’t have come this far unless he was confident that Andy Ruiz would win, but that assumption was depreciated by the news that Arum had reached an agreement with Duco to promote Parker in the U.S. and China with Duco retaining all rights in the Australasian and European markets. That gives Arum a pecuniary interest in both fighters, a win-win situation. Don King would be proud.

We have no doubt that Arum feels a greater loyalty to Ruiz. There will be fewer fingers in the pie if Ruiz wins and there’s more gratification in building a heavyweight champion brick by brick than in latching on to one that is ready-formed.

“The road is a treacherous place” said a grizzled old fight manager who hung his hat at Stillman’s Gym, and that presumably goes double when a road trip takes one above the clouds to the other side of the world. But this grizzled fight writer can’t shake the nagging suspicion that Andy Ruiz is a very live dog.

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COMMENTS

-New York Tony :

A win for Ruiz.


-stormcentre :

ladder, he (Parker) feasted on mildewed meat".
2) "The problem is that (Ruiz) competes in a sport that requires great dedication".
3) "Top Rank matchmaker Brad Goodman recently had this to say: “With Andy now being up in Big Bear and training with Abel Sanchez, I think he is a completely different fighter with his confidence levels, his dedication and the proper sparring".
4) Ruiz comes out of a hot barn. When the Parker-Ruiz deal was made, Bob Arum made arrangements for Ruiz to live and train at Abel Sanchez’s compound in Big Bear, California. Sanchez doesn’t run a frat house. He famously shooed Sergey Kovalev away because Kovalev, in his words, “just wasn’t a good fit.”
5) "Stuart Duncan, Goodman’s counterpart with Duco, Joseph Parker’s promoter, discounted Sanchez’s influence. “You can’t transform a boxer in 60 days and that’s all he had with Ruiz,” said Duncan, who noted that in the pecking order at Sanchez’s compound, Ruiz played third fiddle to Gennady Golovkin and Murat Gassiev".
6) "The assumption was that Arum wouldn’t have come this far unless he was confident that Andy Ruiz would win, but that assumption was depreciated by the news that Arum had reached an agreement with Duco to promote Parker in the U.S. and China with Duco retaining all rights in the Australasian and European markets. That gives Arum a pecuniary interest in both fighters, a win-win situation. Don King would be proud".
7) "Don King would be proud".
Quotes of note and interest have been singled out above, appreciate you're not the (direct) author of them, and my responses/thoughts on them are below.


Point 1) Agree.
Point 2) Agree. Furthermore, this (and any weight loss Ruiz has endured) will probably prove to be a problem for Ruiz and one reason why any superior hand-speed he may possibly have will not be as effective throughout the entire fight, as it might otherwise be.
Point 3) Brad is hardly going to release a statement to the press or anyone else that doesn't promote fight and conflicts with Bob's suggestions and actions. Personally, I highly doubt Ruiz will be even a noticeably changed - let alone a completely different - fighter.
Point 4) Ruiz may come out of a hot barn, and Sanchez may not run a frat house; but Sanchez doesn't have a big stable and (like everyone) he needs to make money to survive. So, a small investment on Abel's part (combined with Top Rank's skin in the game) with Andy Ruiz - plus the potential to be involved in the lucrative heavyweight picture, would probably far outweigh both, any personal opinion Sanchez has of Ruiz' real potential, and also how much he knows Andy will be;


(i) Gasping for air and probably not first over the finish line with the Big Bear training runs/sprints.
(ii) Eating both, leather and also some of his pride in the Summit gym whenever he trains/spars with the top dogs there.

Of particular note was Sanchez' response to the (NZ based) media question . . . .

""What improvements has Ruiz made whilst with you?""

As it (effectively) amounted to a very diplomatic combination of, ""Almost nothing . . "" wrapped up in what appeared to also be an implicit Sanchez-disclaimer for any poor/unsuccessful performance that may result. The best Sanchez could say (but not before his attempt to circumvent a direct answer to the question was exposed and Abel was brought straight back to the question) was . . . .

""The improvements Andy has made are in his head and attitude.""

A reasonable person might think that - even if he didn't travel through many time zones and miles for this fight - perhaps Andy Ruiz may be better served with a wider spread of (more tangible) fighting improvements than just those that Sanchez makes reference to. Of which I note, and with the exception of talk/words that may originate from Ruiz, can't really be meaningfully quantified and/or observed by others.
Point 5) Agree*.
Point 6) Fair assumption. However PBC have all but strangled Top Rank's typical annual revenues. Furthermore, Arum's cash cow (Pacquaio) has been (to some extent; certainly in terms of network dollars) exposed, deflowered, beaten and is almost about to genuinely retire - Lomachenko is a solid investment but he isn't a top earning PPV star yet - Ramirez is without a signature fight and 3G/K2/Sanchez seem uninterested - and as a result Arum knows he needs to be open to new income streams, possibly diversification and/or also go out on a limb now/then. And if that means Top Rank and/or Arum must travel; then so be it. Top Rank and Arum also know that the heavyweight scene both, has been recently dominated by imports and needs reviving. Bob Arum is probably also acutely aware that;


A) A (Top Rank) heavyweight champion;


(i) That's (perceivably) Mexican (as Ruiz is) - or (perceivably) Australian and/or a Kiwi (like Parker) will probably appeal to the USA audience just as much - if not more than - those heavyweights from Europe and England that seem to be currently ruling the heavyweight scene.
(ii) Can be one of the most lucrative investments a promotional company can make.
(ii) If he fits the aforementioned criteria and is competent; will probably breath fresh air into the USA based heavyweight (and other) boxing scene(s) and commercial markets.


B) By passing over (to Sanchez) both Ruiz and the opportunity to get paid for Ruiz V Parker fight, the chances that Sanchez/K2/3G will be more receptive to risking a fight with Ramirez, increase. Which, goes to my above comments

""And as a result Arum knows he needs to be open to . . . . . "".



So, all up, personally, I am not sure how much stock to place in Arum travelling to NZ because he's confident in Ruiz winning. This is not to say that Arum is definitely "not" confident and/or definitely "is" confident that Ruiz will win. More that, in my opinion . . . . Arum knows that - particularly in these boxing/economic times - it's good business to travel over there - personally negotiate, attend, and witness the Duco-Top Rank contract/agreement signing - watch a fighter that Arum has a financial interest in (whether it be Ruiz or Parker) winning that will also (definitely) win, and conduct profitable business.
7) A very well placed observation.

OK, with all that said; *Duncan, Barry and Duco didn't agree to fight Ruiz because they thought Andy was in top shape and would win. Arum knows this and that's why he wanted options on Parker. Whilst anything can happen in this sport; I will be surprised to see Ruiz win this. Good stuff/read. Merry Xmas & Cheers,
Storm. :) :) :)


-stormcentre :

ladder, he (Parker) feasted on mildewed meat".
2) "The problem is that (Ruiz) competes in a sport that requires great dedication".
3) "Top Rank matchmaker Brad Goodman recently had this to say: ?With Andy now being up in Big Bear and training with Abel Sanchez, I think he is a completely different fighter with his confidence levels, his dedication and the proper sparring".
4) Ruiz comes out of a hot barn. When the Parker-Ruiz deal was made, Bob Arum made arrangements for Ruiz to live and train at Abel Sanchez?s compound in Big Bear, California. Sanchez doesn?t run a frat house. He famously shooed Sergey Kovalev away because Kovalev, in his words, ?just wasn?t a good fit.?
5) "Stuart Duncan, Goodman?s counterpart with Duco, Joseph Parker?s promoter, discounted Sanchez?s influence. ?You can?t transform a boxer in 60 days and that?s all he had with Ruiz,? said Duncan, who noted that in the pecking order at Sanchez?s compound, Ruiz played third fiddle to Gennady Golovkin and Murat Gassiev".
6) "The assumption was that Arum wouldn?t have come this far unless he was confident that Andy Ruiz would win, but that assumption was depreciated by the news that Arum had reached an agreement with Duco to promote Parker in the U.S. and China with Duco retaining all rights in the Australasian and European markets. That gives Arum a pecuniary interest in both fighters, a win-win situation. Don King would be proud".
7) "Don King would be proud".
Quotes of note and interest have been singled out above, appreciate you're not the (direct) author of them, and my responses/thoughts on them are below.


Point 1) Agree.
Point 2) Agree. Furthermore, this (and any weight loss Ruiz has endured) will probably prove to be a problem for Ruiz and one reason why any superior hand-speed he may possibly have will not be as effective throughout the entire fight, as it might otherwise be.
Point 3) Brad is hardly going to release a statement to the press or anyone else that doesn't promote fight and conflicts with Bob's suggestions and actions. Personally, I highly doubt Ruiz will be even a noticeably changed - let alone a completely different - fighter.
Point 4) Ruiz may come out of a hot barn, and Sanchez may not run a frat house; but Sanchez doesn't have a big stable and (like everyone) he needs to make money to survive. So, a small investment on Abel's part (combined with Top Rank's skin in the game) with Andy Ruiz - plus the potential to be involved in the lucrative heavyweight picture, would probably far outweigh both, any personal opinion Sanchez has of Ruiz' real potential, and also how much he knows Andy will be;


(i) Gasping for air and probably not first over the finish line with the Big Bear training runs/sprints.
(ii) Eating both, leather and also some of his pride in the Summit gym whenever he trains/spars with the top dogs there.

Of particular note was Sanchez' response to the (NZ based) media question . . . .

""What improvements has Ruiz made whilst with you?""

As it (effectively) amounted to a very diplomatic combination of, ""Almost nothing . . "" wrapped up in what appeared to also be an implicit Sanchez-disclaimer for any poor/unsuccessful performance that may result. The best Sanchez could say (but not before his attempt to circumvent a direct answer to the question was exposed and Abel was brought straight back to the question) was . . . .

""The improvements Andy has made are in his head and attitude.""

A reasonable person might think that - even if he didn't travel through many time zones and miles for this fight - perhaps Andy Ruiz may be better served with a wider spread of (more tangible) fighting improvements than just those that Sanchez makes reference to. Of which I note, and with the exception of talk/words that may originate from Ruiz, can't really be meaningfully quantified and/or observed by others.
Point 5) Agree*.
Point 6) Fair assumption. However PBC have all but strangled Top Rank's typical annual revenues. Furthermore, Arum's cash cow (Pacquaio) has been (to some extent; certainly in terms of network dollars) exposed, deflowered, beaten and is almost about to genuinely retire - Lomachenko is a solid investment but he isn't a top earning PPV star yet - Ramirez is without a signature fight and 3G/K2/Sanchez seem uninterested - and as a result Arum knows he needs to be open to new income streams, possibly diversification and/or also go out on a limb now/then. And if that means Top Rank and/or Arum must travel; then so be it. Top Rank and Arum also know that the heavyweight scene both, has been recently dominated by imports and needs reviving. Bob Arum is probably also acutely aware that;


A) A (Top Rank) heavyweight champion;


(i) That's (perceivably) Mexican (as Ruiz is) - or (perceivably) Australian and/or a Kiwi (like Parker) will probably appeal to the USA audience just as much - if not more than - those heavyweights from Europe and England that seem to be currently ruling the heavyweight scene.
(ii) Can be one of the most lucrative investments a promotional company can make.
(ii) If he fits the aforementioned criteria and is competent; will probably breath fresh air into the USA based heavyweight (and other) boxing scene(s) and commercial markets.


B) By passing over (to Sanchez) both Ruiz and the opportunity to get paid for Ruiz V Parker fight, the chances that Sanchez/K2/3G will be more receptive to risking a fight with Ramirez, increase. Which, goes to my above comments

""And as a result Arum knows he needs to be open to . . . . . "".



So, all up, personally, I am not sure how much stock to place in Arum travelling to NZ because he's confident in Ruiz winning. This is not to say that Arum is definitely "not" confident and/or definitely "is" confident that Ruiz will win. More that, in my opinion . . . . Arum knows that - particularly in these boxing/economic times - it's good business to travel over there - personally negotiate, attend, and witness the Duco-Top Rank contract/agreement signing - watch a fighter that Arum has a financial interest in (whether it be Ruiz or Parker) winning that will also (definitely) win, and conduct profitable business.
7) A very well placed observation.

OK, with all that said; *Duncan, Barry and Duco didn't agree to fight Ruiz because they thought Andy was in top shape and would win. Arum knows this and that's why he wanted options on Parker. Whilst anything can happen in this sport; I will be surprised to see Ruiz win this. Good stuff/read. Merry Xmas & Cheers,
Storm. :) :) :)


-ArneK. :

Cool post. Cheers and Happy Holidays to you Stormcentre. Three fights I really look forward to seeing on "Saturday": Parker/Ruiz, Menard/Beltran, and Charlo/Williams. A reminder to our U.S. readers -- later today is tomorrow in New Zealand. The Parker/Ruiz result will come in early.


-Kid Blast :

[quote=new york tony;108452]a win for ruiz.

i agree.


-Radam G :

A win for Ruiz.
So you are predicting the first Meican American to become a heavyweight champion? Then he will give Cris Areola a shot. Holla!