Beers & excuses – a heavyweight’s cautionary tale

“I don’t think Andy has the time to mature. I think he has to change now”

Last Updated: 14/07/20 7:53pm

Chris Arreola could be the next opponent for Andy Ruiz Jr
Chris Arreola could be the next opponent for Andy Ruiz Jr

Chris Arreola was drinking beers and dodging training, long before Andy Ruiz Jr aired his regrets, but ‘The Nightmare’ told Sky Sports why he is short on sympathy for the fallen champion.

Ruiz Jr offered a rueful apology to coach Manny Robles after handing his world titles back to Anthony Joshua.

Robles gritted his teeth in the glare of the watching media as Ruiz Jr reeled off reasons for showing up overweight and underprepared for a one-sided points loss in Saudi Arabia.

“I don’t want to say that three months of partying, celebrating affected me. To tell you the truth, it kind of did, but what can I say.”

Arreola lived up to his nickname of 'The Nightmare'
Arreola lived up to his nickname of ‘The Nightmare’

Arreola had heard these excuses before, only from his own mouth. A fellow Californian heavyweight, with the same Mexican heritage, he knew all about fighting his way out of hardship.

But did he feel sorry for Ruiz Jr?

Arreola said: “Absolutely not. I respect him and I would have probably been doing the same thing.

“You got to remember this. One month he fights against (Alexander) Dimitrenko for $10,000, $8,000. Six weeks later he’s fighting for $4m. Ten weeks later he’s fighting for $10m. How do you expect him to be a humble man?

“We come from nothing. I come from nothing. Having that kind of money, I wouldn’t know and I didn’t know how to handle myself.

“So no, I don’t have no sympathy. I understand where he comes from and I understand what happened. You live and learn.”

Arreola found out the hard way, having spurned three world heavyweight title fights.

“Sometimes I don’t think he gives us the best chance to win,” former trainer Henry Ramirez once lamented about Arreola. “Sometimes he comes in a little too far out of shape.”

Arreola has two ‘no decisions’ on his record after victories were chalked off following positive tests for marijuana. Even when he did head off to training, sometimes he did not complete the trip.

“I was drinking Corona, I was partying. I would show up whenever I wanted to show up to the gym.

“I would come up with excuses on the way to the gym. I would say that my car needs an oil change. I need new tyres. You know there’s always an excuse. Like I said, it comes from having nothing and then having everything.”

Arreola received a moment of brutal recognition after striding past Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger and basketball heroes on his way to a WBC heavyweight title fight with Vitali Klitschko.

Hollywood stars Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger watched Arreola's clash with Vitali Klitschko
Hollywood stars Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger watched Arreola’s clash with Vitali Klitschko
The Ukrainian overpowered Arreola in their Los Angeles fight in 2009
The Ukrainian overpowered Arreola in their Los Angeles fight in 2009

He had made it. Time to hit hard and party harder, but it did not work out that way.

“I didn’t understand why people were there to watch me fight. Well I guess we found out that night. They were there to watch Vitali beat my butt.”

Arreola wept tears of frustration in his post-fight speech following a brave stoppage loss.

Ruiz Jr had cried too, just a few hours after his Madison Square Garden triumph over Joshua. A multi-million-dollar rematch was already being discussed and he joyously told his mother, ‘we don’t have to struggle no more.’

Except that was the problem, according to Arreola, who was beaten by Bermane Stiverne and Deontay Wilder in two other WBC title fights.

Ruiz Jr’s ‘Rocky’ story had perhaps peaked on that night in New York and Arreola fittingly quotes a scene from the film, when asked for his advice.

Ruiz Jr received new-found fame and fortune after win over Anthony Joshua
Ruiz Jr received new-found fame and fortune after win over Anthony Joshua

The worst downfall to a boxer is to be civilised.

Chris Arreola

“Honestly, just stay hungry.

“The worst downfall to a boxer is to be civilised.

“It’s funny. It could be from Rocky, but that’s true. Once you become civilised, that’s a bad thing. You lose your hunger. You lose the will to fight.”

Arreola might soon deliver those words in person, with talks ongoing for him to fight Ruiz Jr later this year.

The duo have traded blows before when a 17-year-old Ruiz Jr showed up at Arreola’s gym, bravely offering his services for sparring. Any initial attempts to take it easy on the teen were soon forgotten as Ruiz Jr revealed his blurring speed.

“This kid, not only was he big, but he was big with fast hands. A lot of power behind his punches, and I knew that this kid was going to be a heavyweight to be reckoned with in the future, and here we are now. We might even be meeting one another in the ring with 10 ounce gloves.”

Ruiz Jr has posted promising updates of his fitness regime on social media as he awaits confirmation of his next career move.

Jorge Capetillo, a close friend and member of Ruiz Jr’s inner circle, is hopeful the 30-year-old will again compete with Joshua and fellow British world champion Tyson Fury.

“The most important thing, for me, is that he finds love for boxing again,” Capetillo said. “Then we can see again the Andy Ruiz Jr who shocked the world. He has a lot of potential and a lot of skill.

“But he needs to feel passion again for his work.”

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Tyson Fury insists he is a harder puncher than heavyweight rival Joshua
Tyson Fury insists he is a harder puncher than heavyweight rival Joshua

Arreola insists warm words of encouragement are no longer needed and intends to deliver his own painful teachings to Ruiz Jr, if they share the ring.

“I don’t think Andy has the time to mature. I think he has to change now.

“A little maturity and a whole lot of humble.”

Source : Sky Sports