Andy Ruiz Jr. took the money and ran.
He took a fight that he had the capability of winning and he squandered it long before he ever made the trek to Saudi Arabia.
He acted as if he’d hit the lottery on June 1 when he knocked out Anthony Joshua in the seventh round at Madison Square Garden in New York to win three of the four major heavyweight belts.
On Saturday in Saudi Arabia, he paid for that dearly as Joshua scored a resounding unanimous points victory.
He was drilled by a guy who looked gun shy, who had a foot in the bucket, who didn’t want to engage and get hit. Joshua deservedly won going away on Saturday in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, by using his jab and reach and keeping an out-of-shape Ruiz on the outside.
Ruiz weighed in Friday at a stunning 283 pounds after having weighed 268 in the first fight. On Saturday, after an uninspired effort when he never really put his foot on the gas in an attempt to act like his titles meant something to him, he admitted he should have trained harder.
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) December 7, 2019
“I didn’t prepare how I should have,” Ruiz said. “I gained too much weight, but you know what? I don’t want to give no excuses. He won. He boxed me around. You better [expletive] believe I’m going to get in the [expletive] best shape of my life [for a third fight].”
Well, it’s too late for that.
Imagine what the Saudis who put up more than $100 million to stage this event felt to see a guy in the biggest fight of his life not even act as if he’d cared. Imagine what fans who paid thousands to fly across the world, to purchase tickets, to pay for hotel rooms, feel after hearing Ruiz say that.
The reaction to Ruiz’s condition - or lack thereof - was scathing from fans on social media.
🗣️ Andy Ruiz Jr apologises to his trainer Manny Robles and claims three months of partying affected him at the post-fight press conference. Robles responds by apologising back to him and vowing that he won't desert him now he's lost the Anthony Joshua rematch… pic.twitter.com/rf6mBDBgOE
— Michael Benson (@MichaelBensonn) December 8, 2019
Ruiz came into the ring in disgraceful condition- he should be ashamed. I bet Haymon must be furious.
— Jonathan Best (@jonathanbest17) December 8, 2019
Very disappointed in Ruiz tonight, gave himself no chance going into a world title fight in that condition, reckon it'll be Pulev and Usyk for Joshua next year now
— Mike (@Stubbs_86) December 7, 2019
Ruiz said he was basically not in condition, was too heavy, and trained himself, but concluded with, "but I don't wanna make any excuses." I'm very disappointed in Andy, he disrespected our sport and the fans, Ray, there's no other way to put it.
— Newfloridakid (@newfloridakid) December 7, 2019
That wasn’t a world title fight! Ruiz should be ashamed coming to defend his title in that condition. Of course AJ wants the 3rd fight, handy coin and he gets to stay away from the real heavyweight champ @Tyson_Fury
— James Gormley (@gormley_james) December 7, 2019
How on earth could Andy Ruiz present himself in that sort of physical condition for a world heavyweight title fight and expect to win? He looked like the Michelin Man for god sake. Surely he was taking the piss!! #RuizJoshua2
— Grant McMillan (@grantmac12) December 8, 2019
I wouldn't say Ruiz embarrassed himself but I agree with you in your statement that he "gave away his titles by failing to train" and gaining all that weight. I think he took it for granted that he could win again in any condition. He lost that hunger he had in the first fight.
— Aisha (@aishamusic) December 8, 2019
Joshua fought smart, the right game plan. Ruiz let himself down. He's naturally heavy but should have been in better condition than that. Once or twice he threatened but couldn't cut the ring & just followed. To the victor the spoils - congrats to Anthony Joshua.
— Gary Graham (@GaryGra20623363) December 7, 2019
He looked like a jobber on the preliminary pro wrestling card who was there to get drilled by the A side and, well, that’s what happened.
Here’s the sad thing: This fight was there for Ruiz to win. With pressure, with footwork, with combinations, Ruiz had a path to victory on this night.
Joshua clearly showed the effects of having been so violently knocked out in June. He was cautious and wasn’t interested in engaging.
— C of O (@chydon15) December 7, 2019
“That would have knocked down a horse,” Joshua said to DAZN’s Chris Mannix in the ring after the bout about the punch Ruiz dropped him with in the third round in New York. “Andy’s a strong boy. He’s a strong man, you know what I mean?”
Nearly all of the physical advantages rested with Joshua, and on top of that, he got into better shape than he was the last time while Ruiz was in far worse shape. Still, though, it was clear throughout that the two things Ruiz is good at were enough for him to win.
Ruiz regrets poor preparation
He’s got the power to knock out anyone, and he has a legendarily good chin. He needed to be up in Joshua’s face early and often, pressuring him and making the fight a brawl. Joshua can punch, too, and it’s always a risk, but there was little chance Ruiz could outbox him even on his best day.
So Ruiz’s strategy should have been to overwhelm Joshua, to push him back and to try to create openings for his big shots to land.
But that is the kind of style that requires you to be in magnificent condition. Ruiz’s body is never going to win a physique contest, but it didn’t need to be. He just needed to have his legs under him and the wind to push a fast pace.
Instead, Joshua danced away from him easily after a couple of less-than-impactful jabs. Ruiz wasn’t in the condition to do what he needed, which he admitted in the ring after the fight.
“You know what, it kind of affected me a lot,” Ruiz said of the extra weight he carried. “I thought I was going to feel stronger. I thought I was going to be better. But you know what? Next fight, I think I’m going to get more prepared. I’m going to work with my team a little bit more. I tried to train kind of train myself.”
This was a con job. Andy Ruiz defrauded the public by not even trying to get into shape. And then to say afterward that he’d try harder next time was one of the most galling things a fighter has ever said after a loss.
He wants a rubber match and Joshua said he’d grant it, but the WBO has ordered a mandatory within 180 days against Oleksandr Usyk. Besides, who’d want to see that given the effort Ruiz provided? Tickets won’t be cheap and who wants to gamble that he’ll be serious this time.
He was dogged by the spectre of Buster Douglas throughout this promotion. The former champion who knocked out Mike Tyson then lived the high life, meekly surrendered his title the next time out to Evander Holyfield and was largely never a factor in the division again.
Ruiz insisted as he was buying mansions and cars and showing up in clubs that he was taking the rematch seriously and that anyone who was questioning his effort was a hater.
Well, those people are seriously hating now given his post-fight words.
No matter what he does the rest of his career, this is one that he’ll never live down.
He can be a factor because of his chin and his punch, and he has more skills than people give him credit for having. But he’s not good enough to win just by getting off the couch, and that’s what he tried to do.
June 1 is a distant memory now, and Ruiz has a lot to do to rehabilitate his image.
He can start by getting to the gym as soon as he gets home and begin acting as if his job matters to him.
If he doesn’t care, why should we?
With Kevin Iole - Yahoo Sports combat columnist