The world was shocked on June 1, 2019, when Mexican boxer, Andy Ruiz Jr, handed British boxer, Anthony Joshua, the first professional loss of his career.
By that feat, Ruiz Jr became the first Mexican to hold the world heavyweight title.
Undeterred by his loss, Joshua announced a rematch with Ruiz Jr.
However, boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has revealed that the Mexican heavyweight champion is kicking against having the rematch in the United Kingdom, Joshua’s home country.
Talks are still ongoing and the venue for the rematch would be revealed in the next few days, but Hearn said it was the British heavyweight’s turn to decide the venue.
Hearn also revealed that Cardiff’s Principality Stadium in the UK was leading the shortlist of locations.
“I have been speaking to Ruiz’s team, keeping them up to speed with where we’re going,” Hearn told Sky Sports News.
“They don’t want to come to the UK, they never have done. I think they used the Dillian Whyte saga as a little bit of a scapegoat in that decision as well, and we have to take that into consideration.”
Hearn added, “Contractually, we know our position, but we want to make sure we get the fight done. We want to respect Andy Ruiz Jr, but we’ll decide where the venue is.
“A neutral venue, he would be a lot happier with. I think I can rule out America, right now. Cardiff is still the frontrunner, it’s still the favourite.”
Despite his reservation for having the rematch in the UK, Hearn said Ruiz’s team would be alerted to where the fight would take place.
“Joshua is working hard to make sure he’s ready to win those belts back,” he added.
Meanwhile, Ruiz Jr has disclosed the much anticipated rematch would hold in December.
He said on The Joe Rogan Show, “What’s going to be next is the rematch with Anthony Joshua, this year, it will be an exciting fight. It’s going to be in December.”
Ruiz Jr: From obscurity to stardom
Ruiz Jr’s real name is Andrés Ponce Ruiz Jr. He was born on September 11, 1989, to immigrant Mexican parents in Imperial, California.
While growing up, Ruiz Jr had a passion for baseball but his father got him into boxing. His first fight was at age seven in San Diego, California.
Ruiz Jr later worked for his father in the construction industry before deciding to become a full-time boxer and starting his amateur career in Mexico.
He trained in a boxing gym owned by his grandfather and boxed to a 105–5 record under Cuban trainer, Fernando Ferrer.
His 105 wins include two Mexican National Junior Olympics gold medals and a title at the Ringside World Championships.
Ruiz Jr also represented Mexico in two 2008 Beijing Olympic Games qualification tournaments, but lost to Olympians, Robert Alfonso of Cuba and Oscar Rivas of Colombia in the first and second qualifiers.
By June 1, 2019, Ruiz Jr upset the boxing world when he beat Anthony Joshua.
After that win, he was ranked as the world’s best active heavyweight by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board and BoxRec. However, The Ring magazine ranked him third.
Meanwhile, after the win over Joshua, Ruiz Jr ended up on the Jimmy Kimmel’s Los Angeles-based late-night show, where he spoke of being bullied because of his weight.
He said he was bullied through childhood and mocked for as early as he could remember, especially when he was seven and eight and forced to fight boys nearly twice his age because of his weight class.
He said, “It took a long time and a lot of years for me to get comfortable with myself, like the way I am now.
“There have been a lot of roller coasters. No matter how you look or how you are, the only thing that matters is yourself and what you’re trying to accomplish in life.”
Ruiz Jr’s younger brother, Danny, also said, “Everybody kept thinking the fat guy (Ruiz Jr) couldn’t do it. It’s like a family secret.
“Friends or their parents would always ask me about Andy and they could never see what we all saw. We know he has it.”
The boxer’s friend and part-time publicist, Jose Avalos, also told the story of a child on the playground flipping a tyre over Ruiz Jr and pinning him down until a teacher arrived to rescue him.
“His weight has always made him an easy target. He fought back, but it was hard,” Avalos said.
Be that as it may, Ruiz Jr has also been an inspiration for others.
He has described himself as “one of those chubby kids that would do something athletic and everybody would look at me and say, ‘What the heck? Did that kid just do that?’ That’s the kind of chubby kid I was.”
Ruiz Jr’s net worth is estimated at around £770,000 (N336m). So far, his largest career intake for a fight was £5.36m (N2.3bn) for getting into the ring with Joshua.
He can expect to earn more when he defends the titles later in the year.
The Mexican boxer was not born with a silver spoon, but when he won Joshua, the chubby champion showed off his title belts in a Rolls-Royce with his wife Julia in low-key homecoming.
Sitting atop the maroon and grey Rolls Royce convertible, the couple waved to fans in Imperial, which has a population of 17,000 and is just a couple of miles from the border with Mexico.
After earning the prize money, Ruiz Jr revealed that the first purchase he made was a dark red Buick Enclave for his mother, Felicitas.
“I messed up a lot of her cars when I was young,” he said.