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Andy Ruiz Jr. faces Tyrone Spong on July 16th at Plaza de Toros, Mexico City

Image: Andy Ruiz Jr. faces Tyrone Spong on July 16th at Plaza de Toros, Mexico City

By Dan Ambrose: Andy Ruiz Jr. will be returning to the ring after a long 14-month layoff to face little-known 36-year-old Tyrone Spong in a 10-round fight in the main event on pay-per-view at the Plaza de Toros, Mexico City, Mexico. This is a Triller Fight Club event.

Spong is one of those obscure fighters that fans will need to Google to figure out who this guy is.

It’s troubling that Ruiz and his management have chosen to take Spong as his next opponent rather than a top-tier contender, but it’s also indicative of the direction the former champion’s career is going.

Ruiz’s career has gone into a stall since his loss to Anthony Joshua in 2019, and it doesn’t look like he’s going to be able to restart it.

It’s obvious that Ruiz is playing it safe, waiting for a world title shot to fall into his lap by the forces of gravity rather than getting up off his backside and working for it the way other contenders do. Ruiz is taking a lazy approach to getting another world title shot, but it might be the only way he’ll ever get another chance.

At this point, it’s doubtful that Ruiz would beat any of the quality heavyweights in the top ten. You can’t throw Ruiz in with the likes of Joe Joyce, Filip Hrgovic, Daniel Dubois, Frank Sanchez, or Tony Yoka and expect him to emerge with his hand raised in victory.

It’s a questionable decision for the organizers to place Ruiz-Spong on pay-per-view, as this is not a pay-per-view worthy fight. Looking at it from a logical perspective, Ruiz needs to be fighting elite-level heavyweights like Anthony Joshua, Oleksandr Usyk, or Tyson Fury to be fighting on pay-per-view.

Facing the obscure heavyweight Spong is a recipe for disaster for PPV. Spong hasn’t fought in close to three years since 2019, and he’s not a household name, even with the hardcore boxing fans.

Surely, Ruiz’s management could have found someone better than this for him to fight. If the idea is to keep Ruiz winning long enough until one of the heavyweight champions gives him a world title shot in a voluntary defense, it makes sense to match him against weak opposition.

That’s the likely reason why Ruiz’s promoters are matching him against subpar opposition. He’ll eventually be given a world title shot due to him having a lot of fans in the U.S and Mexico.

Image: Andy Ruiz Jr. faces Tyrone Spong on July 16th at Plaza de Toros, Mexico City

One other benefit that Ruiz has on his side is he’s not a risky fight for any of the champions, so they have nothing to fear in defending their titles against him.

The California native Ruiz is coming off knee surgery, which is why he’s been out of the ring for such an extended period.

Ruiz recently got his fans excited by asking them on social media whether they’d like to see him fight Luis Ortiz next. Not surprisingly, the response was overwhelmingly positive bout the fight.

It’s unclear why Ruiz’s management chose to match him against Spong rather than a top-tier contender like Ortiz, Frank Sanchez, Joe Joyce, or Daniel Dubois.

#5 WBC, #5 WBO, #9 IBF, #11 WBA Ruiz has made no secret about wanting a trilogy fight with Anthony Joshua. Still, unfortunately, ‘The Destroyer’ has done little since losing his three titles to the British fighter in their rematch in December 2019.

Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn said that for him to make a trilogy fight, Ruiz will need to beat some significant names in the division. Instead of following Hearn’s instructions, Ruiz has fought once, beating journeyman Chris Arreola.

Spong is arguably a step-down from Arreola because he’s not a contender and has never beaten anyone of note during his seven-year professional career.

Tyron Spong’s last seven fights

  • Jeyson Minda (14-7)
  • Ytalo Perea (11-5-2)
  • Santander Silgado (30-12)
  • Carlos Ailton Nascimento (16-7)
  • Sergio Ramirez Marin (20-7)
  • Jose Felix (0-16-1)
  • Carlos Rodriguez (0-18)

Since losing to AJ, Ruiz has dumped his trainer Manny Robles, replacing him with Eddy Reynoso, and fighting just once against 40-year-old Chris Arreola last May. That fight was on PPV despite Ruiz coming off a loss to Joshua and a 17-month layoff.

According to the press release, the organizers expect the Ruiz vs. Spong fight to fill the 80,000-seat Plaza de Toros arena and set pay-per-view records.

That’s obviously quite an ambitious number, given that Ruiz is no longer a world champion, and he’s fighting once a year at this stage in his career.

This fight is a big disappointment seeing the IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Ruiz (32-2, 22 KOs) fighting Spong (14-0, 13 KOs) because he’s not a contender, and it’s arguably a step down from his last fight in May 2021 against 40-year-old Chris Arreola.

Given the dreadful opposition that Andy Ruiz is fighting, he wasted his time switching trainers to Canelo Alvarez’s coach Eddy Reynoso.

With the guys Ruiz is facing, it’s pointless for him to be using Reynoso as his coach. Heck, Ruiz could train himself and get the same results.

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