Anthony Joshua (22-0) will now face Andy Ruiz Jr (32-1) on June 1 at Madison Square Garden in New York after initial opponent Jarrell Miller was found to be doping following three failed drug tests.
BBN set out to discover 10 interesting facts that you might not already know about the Mexican-American:
His full name is Andrés Ponce Ruiz Jr., born on September 11, 1989 in Imperial Valley, California.
As a youngster, he was forced to box by his father Andrés Sr, aged just six, and was told he could not play baseball in favour of boxing.
He recalled: “My dad got me into boxing. I was six-years-old when I first stepped into a boxing gym. I trained for a whole year and when I was seven-years-old, I had my first amateur fight in San Diego, California.
Too Fat to Fight
Ruiz is known for having an unlikely combination of a podgy belly and lightning quick hands - and even he questioned if he was “too fat” to be a boxer.
Promoter Bob Arum admitted his less-than-chiselled frame meant no one would give him credit for winning as he looked like a “fat slob”. Arum said: "Even though he was winning, nobody would credit him as being legitimate because he looked like a slob - it was always, 'Yeah, he's a fat slob but his hands are so fast'."
Ruiz would go on to lose nearly a stone and a half in a bid to gain appreciation for his wins and said cutting out fast foods was the key, he revealed: "A lot of stuff, all the fast food, the cheap food, the dollar menu - I had to cut all that off. You can train so hard and eat bad stuff and you're training for no reason."
He often describes himself as the “chubby little kid who has come from nowhere”.
During his amateur career, Ruiz ran his record to 105-5 under Cuban trainer Fernando Ferrer. He won two Mexican National Junior Olympics gold medals and the World Ringside Heavyweight Championship.
He represented Mexico at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games qualification tournaments but lost to Cuba’s Robert Alfonso and Colombian Oscar Rivas and didn't make selection.
Explosive Start to Pro Life
A bilingual Mexican-American, as a 19-year-old he won his professional debut in March 2009 winning via a 34-second knockout over Miguel Salvador Ramirez (0-1) in Tijuana, Mexico.
21 stoppages from 32 victories results in a 66% KO ratio for the heavy-hitter. He has recorded nine first-round knockouts during his career.
However, this is not how he earned the nicname the 'Destroyer'. He inherited that nickname many years before he started boxing, because, as a youngster, he liked to destroy anything he got his hands on.
Ruiz confirmed: "They called me the Destroyer because I was always destroying stuff. They'd buy me a toy and the next day I would break it.”
Ruiz fought mostly journeymen opposition up to his 20th bout, his first 19 opponents had a dire record of 111-95-21 combined, but knocked out two amateur stars in 2006 US amateur champion Jonte Willis (8-3-1) and 2008 Golden Gloves champion Tor Hamer (21-2).
On July 27, 2013 Ruiz traveled over 7,000 miles to Macau with Top Rank to fight at the Cotai Arena against undefeated 30-year-old American Joe Hanks (21-0) for the vacant WBO Inter-Continental heavyweight title. In his breakout fight, Ruiz dropped Hanks twice in round four with rapid rights, forcing the stoppage.
He fought again the Cotai Arena, four months later, on the Pacquiao-Rios undercard, successfully defending his WBO Inter-Continental heavyweight title and claiming the vacant NABF heavyweight title by defeating the aformentioned Hamer, a 2012 Prizefighter winner, in the third round when he quit on his stool.
On December 20, 2014 Ruiz fought former WBO World heavyweight champion, 38-year-old Siarhei Liakhovich (26-6) in Phoenix, Arizona and was taken the 10-round distance for the first time in his career, winning on points - 98-92, 96-94 & 99-91.
He joined well-known trainer Abel Sanchez following that victory.
After a nine-month hiatus, Ruiz returned to the ring on September 2015 in his home state of California, defeating Joell Godfrey (17-14-1) via an eight-round unanimous decision, who was a late replacement for Devin Vargas, who was unable to obtain a license from the California Athletic Commission.
A month later, Ruiz won a points decision over veteran Raphael Zumbano Love (37-11-1, 30 KOs), who had been KO'd by Anthony Joshua in under five minutes just five months prior. Joshua was the overwhelming favourite, casting doubt on the judgement of any punters who thought Zumbano Love had a chance.
On May 14, 2016 Ruiz beat 45-year-old former world title challenger Ray Austin (29-6-4) at the Sportsman's Lodge in California in the fourth successful defence of his NABF heavyweight title as Austin went down in the opener and failed to come out of his corner for round five.
Two months later on July 16 he blasted through against 42-year-old Josh Gormley (22-4) in three rounds in Michigan.
Ruiz next fought on September 10, 2016 returning to the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino in California to headline "Solo Boxeo Tecate” against 40-year-old Franklin Lawrence (21-2-2) for the NABF heavyweight title. Lawrence had won his last nine fights inside the distance, dating back to 2009, when he last lost to veteran Oliver McCall. His only other loss came in his fifth professional contest against future WBC world champion Bermane Stiverne, which was stopped after Lawrence injured his arm in round one. Ruiz made a successful fifth defence of his NABF title after 10 one-sided rounds. The win also set up a future WBO eliminator with bout with Tyson's cousin Hughie Fury.
He had compiled a 29-0 fight record up to this point in September 2016.
World Title Contender
He is a world title contender already, which is when he took WBO world heavyweight champion Joseph Parker (21-0) to a mixed decision in December 2016, but was on the wrong end of the 115-113; 115-113; 114-114 scores.
He started brightly as the aggressor, despite being in the away corner 6,000 miles away in Auckland, New Zealand, but mistakenly took his foot of the gas during the mid-rounds, only taking control again in the championship rounds, which was too late to nick the vacant belt that Tyson Fury had just vacated.
The Compubox stats showed the home fighter Parker narrowly outlanded the visitor by 119-107 punches, which shows just how close 'The Destroyer' came, after only one month’s preparation for the bout.
Since losing to Parker, Ruiz has gone 3-0 with two stoppage wins over that span - a first-round knockout of Devin Vargas, a points win against divisional Duracell bunny Kevin Johnson, and his very recent five-round destruction of Alexander Dimitrenko in April.
The British Connection
After Ruiz beat Franklin Lawrence in September 2016, he set up a WBO final eliminator against Hughie Fury, which was scheduled to take place on the cancelled rematch between Tyson Fury and Wladimir Klitschko at the Manchester Arena, but after Tyson pulled out of his main event against Klitschko, Ruiz also withdrew from his bout to look elsewhere. His one and only conqueror, Parker defended the WBO title he won against Ruiz successfully against Hughie at the Manchester Arena two fights later, but then conceded it to Ruiz's forthcoming oponent, Joshua, in March 2018.
In Ruiz’s last fight he beat Alexander Dimitrenko (41-4) - who has fought Parker, Bryant Jennings and Kubrat Pulev - by halting the German in five rounds while the sun was still shining outside. The win came at the Dignity Health Sports Park - a university campus in California - which hosts LA Galaxy fixtures.
Ruiz's victory was next to the football pitch on the tennis court arena, with the fight taking place in the daytime before former two-weight world champ Danny Garcia topped the bill by beating Adrian Granados.
Ruiz’s manager/advisor is Al Haymon, which gives him the freedom to move around to work with any promoter, although deals with his former promotion Top Rank seem unlikely because of the frigid relationship between Haymon and TR head honcho Bob Arum.
However, the door was open for Ruiz to fight Joshua on DAZN with very few hurdles to overcome.
At one time, Gennady Golovkin's former coach Abel Sanchez trained Ruiz, but the heavyweight has transitioned to Manny Robles. The US National Team trainer has worked with heavyweight Dominic Breazeale, Terrell Gausha, Michael Conlan, Jason Quigley, Oscar Valdez and Jessie Magdaleno.
Angel "Memo" Heredia, is his well known strength and conditioning trainer.
Strengths and Weaknesses
He does his best work on the inside with short power combinations. Ruiz's best punch is his left hook. He gets excellent torque on the shot and has shown the ability to hurt opponents consistently with the devastatingly effective punch.
He's also very patient and utilises good head movement for such a big frame, as he attempts to close the distance. It's an ideal style for someone with his stature, tools, and limitations. He works with what he’s got very, very well.
The first thing that is evident when looking at Ruiz is his physique, he doesn’t look much like an athlete and could definitely his conditioning.
He is a smallish heavyweight at only 6ft 2” with a 74-inch reach.
Ruiz, who has already stated his desire for a rematch with Parker, also has his eyes on a heavyweight tussle with Polish-born, Brooklyn-based fellow Haymon heavy, Adam Kownacki (19-0, 15 KOs).
After his win against veteran Kevin Johnson in July 2018, Ruiz actually called out Joshua’s would-be opponent Miller. He said: “I’d love to face Jarrell Miller or any of the big guys out there."