Heavyweight Andy Ruiz has faced criticism for his weight throughout his life, but he’s drowning out the negativity before his bout with Luis Ortiz. 

Andy Ruiz is a 6-foot-2, power-punching heavyweight boxer and former unified world champion. He’s also one of the few boxers who has been body shamed throughout his career and life.

Society praises beautiful people yet feels comfortable criticizing those short of popularly perceived and accepted ideals of attractiveness. Social media gives everyone a chance to make their voice heard, and those voices are often toxic.

When Ruiz pulled off the upset against chiseled Anthony Joshua, the primary storyline was that overweight boxer Ruiz took out the adonis Joshua. His 2019 KO victory to become unified heavyweight champion was reduced to optics, and Ruiz’s skills were overlooked.

When Ruiz lost the rematch to Joshua six months later, his weight was the focus. Ruiz came in at 283.5 pounds, which was 15.5 pounds more than his victory over Joshua. Ruiz admitted that he lacked focus during camp and wasn’t adequately prepared, but he was ridiculed more for his weight than his lack of work ethic.

Boxing promoter Frank Warren called Ruiz an ‘elephant’ and a ‘disgrace’ (h/t Sporting News). Boxing fans on social media echoed those sentiments. The personal attacks against Ruiz were at full strength, and many felt justified in making them because Ruiz lost.

The way that many people treated Ruiz after the Joshua loss was cruel and uncalled for.

When people make personal attacks against celebrities and athletes, they feel comfortable acting like a fool because social media provides them anonymity, and their target is a popular figure. The haters help generate an online echo chamber, where the vilest comments are approved.

If you thought Ruiz was not reading the shots being taken at his weight, you were wrong. He read the insults and also heard them from people around him.

Watch Andy Ruiz vs. Luis Ortiz on Saturday, Sept. 3, on FOX pay-per-view

“It was all the above, especially on social media and all that,” Ruiz said to FanSided. “You know, we all go through rollercoasters, you know, especially as fighters. This is a lonely sport, and especially a mental sport.”

Ruiz has been an open book regarding his weight and the mean-spiritedness he has encountered throughout his life. It has been somewhat of a constant.

After losing to Joshua, Ruiz felt hyperfocused on his body image. He told news outlets that he was making it a goal to lose weight, and he did.

Ruiz lost close to 30 pounds before his 2021 contest against veteran Chris Arreola. Ruiz won the fight by unanimous decision, but he didn’t show much improvement. Ruiz was dropped in round 2 by Arreola and looked vulnerable throughout the battle.

Ruiz lost weight, but that didn’t translate to improvement in the ring. He called boxing a mental sport. He might have let his critics get too inside of his head.

During the first press conference for his Sept. 3 pay-per-view bout against Luis Ortiz, Ruiz said, “The main focus has just been training my skills. This isn’t a weightlifting contest, so I’ve been getting back to what originally made me a champion. I’m not here to lose weight or look the part, I just want to be the part.”

Ruiz doubled down on those comments while talking to FanSided.

“I kind of focused too much on losing weight,” Ruiz said. “I kind of focused on what other people were, who are criticizing me, of me being big and whatnot. But I was like, man, God made me champion being the way that I am–being a husky kid that was explosive and fast. And you know what, I’m bringing that back. I’m bringing the same Andy where I was on June 1 to September 4.”

The criticism did get to Ruiz, and it altered his self-esteem and training habits negatively. He went into the Arreola fight more worried about his physique than his boxing skills.

“Ever since my last fight against Chris Arreola, I didn’t really focus too much on boxing,” Ruiz said. “I focused more on just lifting weights and looking good instead of looking good, and boxing, you know, and the way that I felt. So that’s one of the mistakes that I did.”

Ruiz tried to appease his critics, but it didn’t help him against Arreola, and it detracted from his focus on boxing. Now tasked with Oritz, Ruiz is determined to learn from his mistakes. The primary lesson is not to let public opinion and naysayers get into his head.

Ruiz didn’t try to appeal to society’s body aesthetic. He geared up for Ortiz by working in the gym and perfecting his craft–all the things that made him champion three years ago.

When Ruiz steps into Cryto.com Arena in L.A. on Sept. 3, he anticipates weighing somewhere in the 260s, as he related to FanSided. Negative words hurt, but they’re made even worse when internalized. Ruiz doesn’t plan on taking those comments to heart anymore.

“So the main thing is, being the same guy as I was,” Ruiz said. “Having the same attitude. And you know, having that gordito power behind me, I suppose gonna help me win on September 4.”


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