ANDY RUIZ is being driven to become Mexico’s first world heavyweight champion by support from his country’s greats, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez.
The 29-year-old fights IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua on Saturday at New York’s Madison Square Garden, having demanded his chance as challenger when Jarrell Miller’s suspension ruled him out.
Of all the ways victory would transform his life, becoming a Mexican hero would perhaps be the most permanent, and, having witnessed the ways Alvarez, Chavez and others are revered by his compatriots, he is determined to make his country — and fellow fighters — similarly proud.
Ruiz Jr repeatedly asked Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn to make him the replacement for Miller, and he told Press Association Sport: “I’ll be like Canelo (in significance). I’m trying to be like Canelo. Everybody loves fast, explosive guys, and I’m trying to get to that level.
“I’ve met him a few times, and he wished me luck as well, which gives me that extra motivation — having some guys (like that) tell me ‘Good luck’, and ‘You can win’. They’re people that know boxing, and they know what I have, know what I can do, and know that I can win the fight.
“A lot of Mexican fighters have — Chavez Snr, Chavez Jnr — the main thing is I believe and I’m ready and focused. It feels good — that confidence and having people like that believing in you gives you an extra boost.
“There’s a lot of pressure on me, but it just gives me that extra boost and motivation.
“This is a big opportunity for me, my family, and especially Mexico. I’m here to make history, a legacy out of my name; being the first Mexican heavyweight champion of the world is going to prove a lot of people wrong. I’m here to win.”
In addition to Miller’s suspension, Ruiz Jr had also required his recent activity, defection from Top Rank to Al Haymon and the present heavyweight landscape to be given his unexpected opportunity, and he said: “I came from a small town, Imperial Valley, where everybody knows everybody.
“Going from there to this — it’s a blessing. It was a little difficult; I had a hard-working dad who was always on me, getting me to the gym and trying to stay away from the bad people around me. Being a little chubby kid, underestimated and told I’m not going to be nothing, to do something is going to be good.
“It’ll be amazing for me, my kids and my country.
“There’s never been a Mexican heavyweight champion of the world, so we’re going to get those belts and bring them back to Mexico.”