By Dan Ambrose: Inactive former heavyweight champions Andy Ruiz Jr. & Deontay Wilder are “back in talks” for a fight in early 2024. If the fight doesn’t happen, these two wealthy, multi-millionaire, aging ex-champions need to return to the ring against some contenders to stay relevant.
Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KOs) and the former IBF/WBA/WBO champion Ruiz (35-2, 22 KOs) have gone back & forth talking about wanting to set up a fight this year, but it hasn’t happened.
The boxing public has grown tired of the talk from Ruiz & Wilder and stopped paying attention to their back-and-forth interaction on social media.
Deontay had hoped to set up a fight with Anthony Joshua in Saudi Arabia in December, but that’s not happening. With the fight unlikely to happen until 2025 or maybe never, Wilder has got to look in the direction of Ruiz unless his management can get the big prize by putting together a match with Francis Ngannou. That’s highly unlikely, though.
Deontay could have made the fight happen already, but he reportedly wasn’t interested in giving the one-hit-wonder Ruiz the purse split that he was asking for.
At this point, the 38-year-old Wilder can’t afford to stay out of the ring for much longer because his inactivity is eroding his skills & popularity. Given that he’s still interested in fighting the big-name fighters Anthony Joshua, Oleksandr Usyk & Tyson Fury, he must return to the ring soon.
“That fight is not lost. These guys get on my nerves, but yeah, we’re back in talks. There was a lot of apologizing; we’ll see what happens,” said Deontay Wilder to Blue Blood Sports TV about reviving negotiations for a fight with former unified heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. for January 2024.
It’s hard to believe that Ruiz was on top of the world four and half years ago when he upset Anthony Joshua with a seventh round knockout in June 2019. Ruiz has fought only three times since, losing to AJ in the rematch and beating a pair of 40-year-olds in Chris Arreola and Luis Ortiz.
These fighters have been so inactive in the last few years that they’re in danger of becoming forgotten and hurting their earning potential. That’s what happens with stars that make a lot of money.
They enjoy the fruits of their labor sitting inactive, and the years drift by without them fighting. When they wake up and want to get back in the ring, they discover that the money they once commanded is no longer there.