Describing it as a whirlwind tour would be an understatement. Andy Ruiz Jr. has basked in the limelight that he attracted after winning the world heavyweight title.
From the moment Ruiz stunned defending champion Anthony Joshua with a seventh-round technical knockout three weeks ago, demand for the real life “Rocky” has intensified. Ruiz’s accomplishment, after all, underscores the odds-defying scenario that Hollywood usually turns into a production.
A late replacement and prohibitive underdog, Ruiz, 29, radically realigned the boxing universe by bringing down the seemingly invincible Joshua and also becoming the first fighter of Mexican descent to win the heavyweight crown.
Moreover, Ruiz punctuated the argument that physical appearance doesn’t matter. His flabby waistline, compared to the chiseled and taller Joshua, made for many prefight jokes.
Ruiz has the last laugh now as he continues rounds of personal appearances celebrating and detailing his life-changing achievement.
“I kept telling everyone in all the interviews that I was going to win this fight,” Ruiz said while a guest on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” “But nobody believed.
“I believed in myself, and this is why I became the first Mexican heavyweight champion of the world.”
Ruiz’s ancestral homeland also joined his post-fight celebratory ride. Days after his victory over Joshua, Ruiz was a special guest of Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at the National Palace in Mexico City.
“He is a product of hard work and sacrifice in the struggles of many Mexicans,” Lopez Obrador said of Ruiz during the fighter’s visit with the president. “He demonstrates the value of perseverance and stubbornness. They can knock him down, but he continues to get up until he conquers. That is what Andy did.”
On Saturday, Ruiz’s celebrations landed in his hometown of Imperial, California. The city honored Ruiz with a parade and ceremony.
“I’ve been in so many roller coasters in my life, so many things have happened,” Ruiz told the audience. “But I never gave up after everybody was telling me I wasn’t going to do [anything]. The way I looked, my appearance. But I never gave up.
“Having this celebration means so much to me. I’m still pinching myself to see if this is true.”
Ruiz knows the festivities will end soon and the attention will turn to the anticipated direct rematch with Joshua, who will likely opt for the clause stipulated in the first fight’s contract. Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, has said in multiple media outlets that the rematch will occur in November or December.
Around the ring
▪ Fort Lauderdale-based Heavyweight Factory presents its third card of the year July 12 at the Seminole Hard Rock Events Center in Hollywood.
Puerto Rico’s Derrieck Cuevas will defend his regional welterweight title against Mexico’s Jesus Beltran in the show’s main event. Also scheduled to appear on the card are South Florida-based fighters Livan Navarro, Jessy Cruz and Blake Davis.
The main event also will coincide with the first telecast of Spanish-language network Telemundo’s 2019 summer series. In coordination with Miami-based All-Star Boxing, Telemundo will broadcast live fights over four successive Fridays in July and early August.
▪ Longtime South Florida ringside physician Allan Fields died June 9 after a brief illness. Fields was 80.
For five decades, Fields was one of the busiest physicians at local and state fight shows. In 2009, Fields was inducted into the first class of the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame. The American Association of Ringside Physicians named Fields Ringside Physician of the Year in 2004.
▪ Friday (10 p.m., ESPN): Richard Commey vs. Ray Beltran, 12, for Commey’s IBF lightweight title.
▪ Saturday (9 p.m., Showtime): Jermall Charlo vs. Brandon Adams, 12, middleweights.