Yeah, Yah Yah may be a funny name, yet Lawrence had been highly regarded briefly during his 2010-11 years before entering a phase of torpor that sees his once top 10 boxrec ranking dip to 54th. He’ll be just a couple of weeks short of his 41st birthday on the day of the fight. He got a somewhat delayed start at age 30 for reasons I’m not privy to with little amateur background, so he had a lot of ground to make up to get to this point. He’s been in the mix from his first year when being knocked out by fellow novice and future WBC beltholder Bermane Stiverne, and later holding his own in a close decision loss to former WBC champ Oliver McCall, before knocking out former contender Lance Whitaker. His major problems have been periods of inactivity, again for reasons I’m not privy too, but then again, he’s recorded 9 straight knockouts since the McCall loss, so at least he’s a warm body for Ruiz who may heat up to actually put him into a fight.
Ruiz is also an unlikely looking heavyweight contender, being born in the Baja California border town of Mexicali, yet currently staying comfortably close to his roots with a hop, skip, and a jump across the border to nearby Imperial California. Like former contender Buster Mathis of the Muhammad Ali era, he turned pro at a roly, poly near 300 lbs, both sweet natured looking fellas hardly looking like any kind of fighters, and like Buster he has bounced his weight around trying to get a handle on it. For the past few fights I see he’s been at or under the 250 mark which sounds about right for him. Some folks were genetically predisposed to be fat, so no use in fighting mother nature when your bigger immediate fight is in the ring. Of course there is a healthy weight for him to be at that he seems to have reached. Anyone calling him a fatboy will be relying on his good humor, because make no mistake, this soon to be 27 year old kid knows how to handle himself in the ring. He’s beaten a couple of highly regarded prospects, a former belt holder and a former contender, so he and Lawrence are right about the same level of experience and success with Ruiz being the busier fighter in the 7 years he’s been fighting and, more obviously, being the money fighter with a future sure to include a lucrative title fight leveraged by the strongest, most experienced promoter in the business, Bob Arum of Top Rank.
Oh, did I mention that Andy also works with future HOF trainer Freddie Roach, so need I say more if the very busy Roach found time to prepare him for this bout?
The winner of this fight takes a major step forward, perhaps even straight to a title fight, so for the fighters the stakes could not be higher. I expect both to eventually end up in a slugfest looking to impress the judges if not take it out of their hands with a knock out.