Andy Ruiz Jr: A closer look at Anthony Joshua’s new opponent

After the debacle of Jarrell Miller’s three failed drugs tests, Andy Ruiz Jr has officially been confirmed as Anthony Joshua’s new opponent for 1st June at Madison Square Garden. The American-Mexican heavyweight will be looking to cause an upset and take the WBA, IBF and WBO belts from AJ when they go toe-to-toe next month.  

Much has been made of initial opponent Miller’s actions in the build-up, but Ruiz Jr will be looking to make sure all the attention is on him as he prepares for an unlikely title bid. Boxing fanatics will recall Ruiz Jr’s WBO title fight with Joseph Parker in 2016, his only defeat in 33 professional bouts. But what else do we know about Ruiz Jr? Let’s take a look at his career but before we do, check out the boxing odds ahead of the fight.

Amateur career

It’s rare for Mexico to produce heavyweight boxers but Ruiz Jr’s amateur record suggested he was always going to make it to the top, posting 105-5 and he almost represented the USA at the 2008 Olympics. He fell short in the qualification stages and was beaten by Michael Hunter amongst others, who was rumoured as a potential AJ opponent for this fight.

Ruiz Jr’s amateur success was certainly accelerated under the guidance of Cuban trainer Fernando Ferrer, who is highly respected in the boxing world and helped Ruiz Jr develop all areas of his game. It was during his amateur career that Ruiz Jr – nicknamed The Destroyer – began to carve out a reputation as a hard-hitting heavyweight and he was soon to realise his potential as a pro.  

Professional career

Ruiz Jr couldn’t have wished for a better start to his professional career as he knocked out Miguel Ramirez after just one minute, before going on to beat Ross Brantley in the first round in his next fight. The Destroyer faced a plethora of journeymen and dispatched them all with considerable ease, which saw him carve out a record of 29-0.

Since making his debut in 2009 as a pro, it took seven years for Ruiz Jr to learn his trade before he was picked to face Parker for the WBO belt. The Kiwi was too hot for Ruiz Jr to handle but The Destroyer gave a good account of himself, losing out on points to a majority decision.

Recent bouts and AJ chances

Most recently, Ruiz Jr had two fights in 2018 which saw him win on both occasions, knocking out Devin Vargas (first round) before he dispatched Kevin Johnson (10th round, Unanimous Decision) in order to get some rounds under his belt. Johnson has mixed it with the best in the business and he provided the ideal opposition for Ruiz Jr, who hadn’t gone over the first round in the last 12 months.

In April 2019, Ruiz Jr saw off the challenge of Alexander Dimitrenko via TKO after five rounds; demonstrating his quick hands and landing some devastating blows in the process. And it’s this that Joshua will need to be most wary of when they meet on 1st June. As expected, Joshua will be expected to successfully defend his belts but it would be foolish to rule out Ruiz Jr altogether, who certainly has it in his arsenal to cause an upset.

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