The contrast couldn’t have been more pronounced for their world heavyweight title fight – the rotund Ruiz and the chiselled Joshua.
But Ruiz, who weighed 121.5kg and with significantly less height than the 112kg Joshua, walked out of the Madison Square Garden with three of the division’s belts after beating up the athletic Brit inside seven rounds, knocking the noted gym-bunny to the canvas four times.
How could this be? It turns out a delicate balance of fat and muscle can be a prime asset for a heavyweight as history has already shown with the likes of George Foreman.
“In a sport like heavyweight boxing there are certainly scenarios where carrying extra body fat can be beneficial,” sports nutritionist Dr Mayur Ranchordas told the BBC as Britain still struggles with the embarrassing loss of their supposed superstar of the division.
“If you want to become a good cyclist, extra body fat is of no use whatsoever because that additional weight doesn’t translate into performance. In boxing it can.
“If you’re an extra 20 kilograms heavier – even if that weight is coming from fat – the opponent is going to feel your punch a lot more.”
The trade-off for a heavier boxer was to find increased fitness and agility, something Ruiz has managed to do. He is acknowledged as having some of the fastest hands in the business and he also has durability as he has has shown in often going the distance when needed.
“If you are carrying extra body fat then your heart rate is going to be higher and you’re going to have to use more energy to move around,” Dr Ranchordas explained to the BBC.
“If your ability to produce speed is great, your punching power is phenomenal and your fitness levels are very, very good – getting you to lose an extra 15 kilos of fat is probably not going to help.
“Ruiz is carrying a lot of body fat – but don’t get me wrong he’s carrying a lot of muscle mass at the same time. He’s not just a fat blob.”
Looks can be deceiving as Joshua discovered. Ruiz isn’t just some tubby guy walking down the street.
“That guy might weigh the same – but underneath the fat he’s carrying nowhere near as much muscle.”
Ruiz, who took the fight on short notice as a replacement for drug-tainted American Jarrell Miller, was 5.5kg heavier than his failed world title shot against Joseph Parker in 2016 when the Mexican-American trained at altitude, determined to be in the best condition of his career.
Ruiz and Joshua are set for a rematch in November or December and Ruiz has vowed to use the time to work on his fitness.
He even joked that he would turn up “looking like Joshua” though there will be little sense in trying to achieve that.
Fat works for the 29-year-old and he’s comfortable with his body image.
Ruiz once weighed 146kg in the amateur ranks, and turned pro at 134kg.
“At one moment I wanted to give up because I was listening to those doubters tell me you’re too big to be on the big stage, you’re too big to become a champion,” Ruiz said at the pre-fight press conference before taking on Joshua.
He was ridiculed in the ring as the Mexican national anthem was played ahead of the fight with the hordes of Joshua fans chanting “you fat bastard, get your tits out for the lads”.
He sure proved them and the doubters wrong.
He will be fitter and stronger for the sequel but he will still be chubby. And, having got inside the head of Joshua in New York, he will arguably be even more dangerous.
Reported by Stuff