Veteran Heavyweight contender Chris Arreola (38-6-1, 33 KOs; 2 NC) isn’t buying into the idea that his lengthy layoff will hurt his performance in his upcoming bout against Andy Ruiz Jr (33-2, 22 KOs).
The 40-year-old Arreola, who meets the former champion Ruiz in a FOX Sports/PBC pay-per-view headliner on May 1 from the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, hasn’t competed since suffering a unanimous decision loss to Adam Kownacki in August 2019.
But although he’ll have been out of the ring for well over a year come fight night, “The Nightmare” isn’t worried.
“I’ve had some long layoffs before, so I know how to get back into it when the time comes,” Arreola said at a recent open workout. “The sparring helps you know where your timing is at. That’s the best way to gauge where you’re at in your training camp.”
Arreola, a former three-time title challenger himself, also draws confidence from the fact that he’s been training consistently for months now. The fight between him and Ruiz had been previously rumored and although it was pushed back to the current May 1 date, Arreola has had the former champion in mind for quite some time now.
“I’m ready for this fight,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for this fight for four or five months. This one is going to be a barnburner for sure.
“I feel great. I’ve been working hard for months. I know that I have to make this a great fight for the fans and for myself. I know how crucial this fight is for my career.”
Another important factor to consider is that Arreola has now had more time to hone his skills under the tutelage of highly touted trainer Joe Goossen. His last fight against Kownacki, a fight in which Arreola set multiple CompuBox Heavyweight records, was the first time he had Goossen in his corner, and the two have only continued to work together in his time away from the ring.
“Defensively, I’ve grown so much working with Joe,” Arreola said. “He’s taught me a lot about keeping my hands up and countering. He hasn’t reinvented the wheel, he’s just made sure the wheel is round.”
Regardless of his optimism, though, there’s no denying that he has a tough test in front of him in Ruiz. “The Destroyer”, who’s coming off a highly disappointing loss to Anthony Joshua in December 2019, seems to be rejuvenated as well, appearing to be in far better physical condition than he was when he relinquished his titles to Joshua.
Goossen expects both men to bring their best come May 1.
“You’re going to have the best Andy Ruiz that we’ve seen in this fight,” Goossen said. “And we have the same on our side. Our team has been working hard as well. I don’t expect anything but a great fight. However many rounds this goes, it’s going to be fireworks.”
Ultimately, however, the trainer believes the work that Arreola has been putting in will lead to positive results.
“I’m very confident and calm heading into this fight because Chris has been doing exactly what he’s supposed to be doing,” he said. “That’s all you can ask for.”