Last seen coming oh, so close to decisioning Joseph Parker in a clash for the vacant WBO heavyweight crown, Andy Ruiz Junior, who fell short on the cards after 12 interesting rounds in New Zealand back in December of 2016, is set to return to the ring in March. According to a news bit on ESPN.com, Ruiz, 29-1(19) will face former Olympian Devon Vargas (yes, he’s still fighting!) on the under-card of the Oscar Valdez-Scott Quigg showdown on March 10.
Ruiz, possessing fast hands, good power, a fine boxing brain and, despite his oft-criticised physical appearance, a good engine, is still young enough at age 29 to be able to contend again. But has Ruiz got the ambition to be able to do so? Why the long layoff following the loss to Parker? Has Ruiz been training and if so what will his weight be for the March return?
Vargas, 20-4(8) was once a prospect but he has suffered some bad defeats; being stopped in all four of his losses, by Kevin Johnson, Andrzej Wawrzyk, Jason Bergman and Dominic Breazeale, and he is firmly placed in journeyman status these days; even if he did win his last two fights, both of which took place last year. Vargas announced his retirement in 2014, but he only stayed away for three years. At age 36, it isn’t clear how much ambition or anything else Vargas has left to offer.
Ruiz should win this one (which will not be part of the ESPN televised broadcast and is scheduled for eight rounds) but what next? If he stays active (and it could be a big if), and if he has maintained hunger and desire, then maybe Ruiz can feature in some further big fights. Certainly when he’s on form (see his win over Joe Hanks and the Parker fight) Ruiz can be a real handful.
As fans know, with the heavyweights it often takes just one big win and, bang – he’s back knocking on the big-time door. And there are some good and interesting fights out there for Ruiz – how about Ruiz against the likes of Jarrell Miller and Hughie Fury (who was actually supposed to fight Ruiz a while back only for the fight to fall apart when Ruiz withdrew)?