In his first fight since losing the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight belts to previous victim Anthony Joshua in December 2019, Ruiz was expected to return to winning ways with a minimum of fuss against Arreola. But the 40-year-old known as “The Nightmare” certainly made it a nightmare start for Ruiz.
After taking a jab to the stomach in round two, Arreola responded with a hefty right hand over the top that forced Ruiz to drop down to one knee.
“He caught me with that good clean right hand,” Ruiz acknowledged after the bout. “I dropped my guard a little bit and I was overconfident.”
Ruiz recovered from that surprise setback in the second round, but almost suffered another knockdown in the third, when a thudding left hook wobbled him. The warring Californians traded shots in a lively session, yet it was clear that this style of contest was suiting Arreola more than Ruiz.
Sensing that he would be far better off using his quick hands and clever counterpunching skills rather than slugging it out, from the fourth frame onwards Ruiz got into his groove. Jabbing, countering and working the body with fast combinations, the 31-year-old piled up the points to ultimately claim a wide unanimous decision after 12 rounds – 118-109 twice and 117-110.
The game Arreola’s cause was not helped by the fact that he injured his left shoulder in the eighth round.
“Chris Arreola is a veteran and a hard puncher,” Ruiz said afterwards. “We did what we had to do and we got the victory. Remember, I was the lowest of the low and I had to start again at the bottom of the ladder [after the loss to Joshua]. Now we can move on to the next one.”
With Eddy Reynoso in his corner – the trainer of Canelo Alvarez – and having shed a significant amount of weight, Ruiz finds himself back in the mix for big fights, though he would not be averse to sharing a ring with Arreola again.
“I felt a little rusty but I kept going,” Ruiz explained. “If he wants to run it back then we can run it back. We can have Chris Arreola-Andy Ruiz II.”