Where next for Mexico's first heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr?

Andy Ruiz Jr was the unified heavyweight champion in 2019 but not much has gone his way since the famous Madison Square Garden upset win over Anthony Joshua.

Looking to make a big splash in the heavyweight division in 2022, former WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO champion Andy "Destroyer" Ruiz Jr. is expected to make his return to the ring in the coming months.

Ruiz Jr (34-2) has fought just once since his rematch defeat to Anthony Joshua at the end of 2019, a somewhat unconvincing victory against a past-his-best Chris Arreola last May.

Having been out of the ring for eighteen months, a slimmed-down Ruiz, under the tutelage of renowned trainer Eddy Reynoso, was expected to make quick work of Arreola. However, having been floored in the early rounds, the Mexican-American would labour his way to a less than impressive points decision victory against an albeit game Arreola.

While Ruiz might have been expected to get back in the ring quickly following that win, knee surgery in August ended hopes of the former champion building some momentum for the remainder of the year.

However, having finally returned to full training, Ruiz took to Twitter to ask his fans who he should fight in his next bout.

While many names were thrown about by would-be social media match-makers, Derek Chisora and Luis Ortiz have been mentioned by promoter Eddie Hearn as viable opponents for the 32-year old California native.

Indeed, on Tuesday, Hearn confirmed that he'd made an offer to Ruiz to fight Chisora.

"I made an offer last week to PBC," said Hearn when speaking to Ak and Barak.

"They wanted more money, which is what I expected. I'm gonna offer them more money. I think it's a brilliant fight. I think it's an all-action fight and we'll do what we can to bring Andy Ruiz to London for the Chisora fight."

However, less than twenty-four hours later, Hearn backtracked on his earlier statement concerning a potential Ruiz/Chisora bout.

"I think Ruiz will fight Ortiz next. That's a good fight.

"But Chisora wants Ruiz, Chisora wants Chris Arreola - they're our two favourite options for him (Chisora)."

Ageing Ortiz on Andy's menu

luis ortiz

At 42, Ortiz is undoubtedly a long way removed from his prime years. While he picked up a sixth-round TKO victory against former WBO champion Charles Martin in his most recent bout, the Cuban looked every inch of those 42 years, even being dropped by a Martin jab in round 3.

Of course, Ortiz retains some power, and while surely now over the hill, still represents a decent enough test for a fighter who needs to get the momentum back in his career. An undoubtedly talented boxer, at 32, Ruiz must put the pedal to the metal if he wants to be remembered as something other than a one fight wonder.

Indeed, having made millions of dollars in his subsequent rematch loss to Joshua, it remains to be seen if Ruiz retains the hunger (stop giggling) and desire to again return to somewhere near the top of the division. Indeed, doubts over his application and training regiments were very much in place even before he won his lottery ticket bout with Joshua in the summer of 2019.

Entering the rematch some 16lbs heavier at 284lbs, it was grossly apparent that Ruiz had been doubling down on his famed Snickers diet. As the old saying goes, it's hard to wake up at 4 am to go running when you're wearing silk pyjamas. Ruiz seems to have been wearing his jammies for the best part of two years.

However, having linked up with the revered Reynoso last year, a considerably slimmed-down Ruiz appeared to be going in the right direction however, it is perhaps somewhat concerning that recent reports suggest that Ruiz is no longer training with last year's WBC trainer of the year.

Still, the fast-handed first-ever Latino heavyweight world champion still has the talent and time to re-write the unfolding narrative, and the likeable Californian retains hopes of a third bout with the now twice beaten Anthony Joshua.

"That third fight HAS to happen. A trilogy is always the best, and I think it would be an amazing fight between me and him."

For those dreams to be little more than pie in the sky, Ruiz will have to get busy with his career over the next twelve months. More activity is surely a must, and losing some of that excess weight will surely only further enhance his already rapid speed, not to mention the inevitable boost to his general strength and conditioning.

Should he prove successful in a likely bout with Ortiz, more reputable contenders like Filip Hrgovic, Dillian Whyte or even Deontay Wilder could provide the Californian with a pathway towards further heavyweight glory.

While it's hard to imagine Ruiz toppling a Fury or an Usyk, the heavyweight landscape is one that is prone to change. At 32, Ruiz could yet find himself involved in some seriously big fights if he can refind the activity levels that saw him fighting five times between March 2018 and December 2019.

If not, the California native may find himself as little more than a footnote in the great history of the heavyweight division.

Read more: Who is Britain's flyweight world champion Sunny Edwards?

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