Andy Ruiz Jr. made a big leap in the heavyweight division even though it’s been five months since he’s been in the ring. On Tuesday, the former IBF-WBA-WBO champion hired Eddy Reynoso as his new trainer, a move that was long in the works.
This is the best choice Ruiz could have made. Reynoso has established himself as one of boxing’s elite trainers and stands to follow legendary cornermen such as the late Emanuel Steward, the late Eddie Futch and Freddie Roach as the leader of many of boxing’s best.
Reynoso made his reputation with his work as Canelo Alvarez’s trainer, but as boxing journalist Manouk Akopyan pointed out on Twitter, his stable now includes Ruiz, Ryan Garcia, Oscar Valdez, Luis Nery, Julio Cesar Martinez and Frank Sanchez, in addition to Alvarez.
That is a great group.
Ruiz has long had talent, but he hadn’t been one to push himself in the gym. But when he got the opportunity to fight Anthony Joshua on short notice on June 1 for the title, things fell into place perfectly for him. He’d just come off a good camp for a win over Alexander Dimitrenko and picked up where he left off to get ready for Joshua.
He got off the deck to stop Joshua in the seventh at Madison Square Garden in one of the biggest upsets in heavyweight history.
Joshua exercised his contractual right to a rematch, and the two met again on Dec. 7 in Saudi Arabia. But Ruiz didn’t put in the work to prepare properly, often failing to show up at all. He was out of shape and didn’t have the stamina he needed in a fight that was winnable.
It certainly wasn’t ex-trainer Manny Robles’ fault, but Robles paid the price with his job.
Reynoso is in a much more powerful position than Robles was. He doesn’t need Ruiz, and if Ruiz acts similarly while Reynoso is training him, he’ll quickly become an ex-member of the team.
Reynoso will get him into shape, improve his fundamentals and help him make the right adjustments on fight night.
It’s a win-win situation for both of them.
Having Reynoso in his corner is a boon to Ruiz, but it’s no guarantee that he’ll get the belt back. The division is top heavy with Joshua and WBC champion Tyson Fury holding the belts and ex-champion Deontay Wilder eyeing a rematch with Fury later in the year.
Joshua, Fury and Wilder would all be favorites against Ruiz. Rising heavyweight sensation Daniel DuBois is soon to be in that mix, as well.
But Reynoso’s presence guarantees that Ruiz will be in shape and fundamentally sound, and that’s a lot of the battle right there. If Ruiz really has the desire and wants to succeed, he can do so and made an inspired choice by hiring Reynoso.
When it comes down to it, though, a trainer can only do so much.
The rest of Ruiz’s career will come down to his passion and commitment level. We shall soon see how much he cares about chasing greatness, because it’s all on his shoulders now.
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