The long, drawn out list for a heavyweight to challenge world champion Anthony Joshua on his US debut has been whittled down to one short, squat Mexican.
Ruiz, having won the multi-million dollar lottery to replace that Big Baby drugs cheat Jarrell Miller, now dreams of becoming the first fighter from his country to become world heavyweight champion.
Few in Britain will have heard of Ruiz until now and even Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn had to admit the California–based boxer has a rotund image problem: ‘He’s a credible contender with a good record but my one concern is that his appearance makes him a hard sell.’
Ruiz is three inches shorter than Joshua and will be out-reached by a massive eight inches but he has fast hands and his record offers better statistics.
The 29-year-old boasts 21 KOs in his 32 victories and his only defeat was a close and questionable one in his only previous world title bid. He lost a majority, home-town decision in New Zealand to Joseph Parker, the only man to take Joshua the full 12-round distance.
While Ruiz may not look in athletic shape he is in fight condition already, having forced Alexander Dimitrenko to retire after five rounds in Carson City less than two weeks ago.
Hearn admits it has been ‘tricky’ finding a replacement for the three-times disgraced Miller, whose mere six-month suspension for those multiple positive tests is almost as disgraceful as the offenses themselves, but believes he has come up with the most credible alternative available.
He says: ‘People talk about fighting AJ. Some fill their bodies with PEDs to try and beat him up. But very few genuine fighters step up and take the challenge.
‘When we selected this opponent I wanted someone with fire in his heart, someone who genuinely believes he can win and become world champion. Andy showed me that desire. Give him credit for taking this challenge.
‘In my opinion, this is a tougher test than Jarrell Miller. Andy punches harder and is much faster. This is going to be a war. Andy brings Mexican heart against the best heavyweight in the world. Don’t blink!’