It was only after chowing down on a buffet of humble pie that Andy Ruiz Jr realised something had to change.
After being outmanoeuvred and outclassed in the Saudi Arabian desert by a reformed Anthony Joshua, Ruiz retreated home with his tail between his legs, shamed by a burning sense of regret and comforted only by a suitcase of Snickers.
His face and pride badly bruised, he conceded in the moments afterwards that he had eaten himself out of contention and that this was his chickens coming home to roost after months of partying and excess.
Andy Ruiz Jr makes his comeback on Saturday after losing to Anthony Joshua 17 months ago
Ruiz is in incredible shape and has shed over two stone since he lost his world titles to Joshua
When this ‘fat kid with the big dream’ toppled Joshua in Madison Square Garden to reach the sport’s summit in the mightiest of upsets months earlier, he had vowed not to be a 15-minute world champion.
His six-month reign might as well have been.
But after relinquishing his world titles and being confronted by the necessity to swap pizzas for punchbags, Ruiz Jr has taken on the most remarkable of transformations and can lay the first step on the path back to becoming heavyweight champion when he fights Chris Arreola this weekend.
The Mexican-American is now working under Eddy Reynoso, the trainer who moulded Canelo Alvarez into the world’s finest fighter, and has shifted over two stone since he fought Joshua 17 months ago.
The Mexican-American was humbled by Joshua in Saudi Arabia and comfortably outpointed
The 31-year-old later admitted all the parties and over-eating had cost him in the fight
In his first major interview since that sobering night in Diriyah, Ruiz told this publication he is now a changed man and that his old habits of over-eating are long gone.
‘I’ve learned how to discipline myself and not go crazy. I don’t try to overeat like I used to,’ he told Sportsmail earlier this month.
‘No Snickers, no sweets, no cakes even though I love them so much.
‘On the weekend, I have a cheat meal. I used to have a cheat day. So the whole day I would be eating and eating.’
When he weighed-in for his rematch with Joshua, Ruiz tipped the scales at 283lbs. He reckons he was over 300lbs on the night of the fight. Now he is down at around 250lbs – and the difference is night and day.
Ruiz made his love for Snickers no secret, with his diet eventually proving to be his downfall
The ex-world champion has teamed up with Canelo’s trainer Eddie Reynoso since losing to AJ
Had he been in that shape when he faced AJ the second time, who knows if the outcome could’ve been different.
Ruiz says he would ‘still be champion’ had that been the case. Perhaps one day we’ll find out. Another shot at Joshua though is at least 12 months away and will need to be earned.
Impressing against Arreola, who is the sacrificial lamb for Saturday night, will be a decent enough start.
The former world champion certainly intends on catching the eye when he makes his return and if his word is taken at face value, then we can expect big things from this new version of Ruiz and an early night on Saturday.
‘I have the ability that I never thought that I had. I feel like Mike Tyson sometimes,’ Ruiz said this week.
He said he has felt like he’s heavyweight great Mike Tyson sometimes during his training camp
Ruiz knows he needs to impress on his return to get himself back into the world title mix
‘I can bob and weave, I can duck more, I can slip the punches. The speed I always had, you know, but the ability that they’re showing me and they’re teaching me stuff that I couldn’t do before. It feels amazing.
‘I never knew that I could box around, I could slip the punches, and in sparring I’ve been sparring people that I was already sparring before and they’re like “man, you’re different, you’re more busy, like it’s hard to hit you” and it’s because of the hard work and dedication.
‘It wasn’t just me, it was Eddy and Canelo showing me so much stuff.’
If Ruiz can provide fireworks on Saturday night, then another big fight will be just around the corner.
Mouth-watering clashes with Deontay Wilder and Dillian Whyte have already been touted while victory on Saturday will go a long way to restoring some of that confidence that was lost in those bleak months after he surrendered his titles.
Huge fights against Deontay Wilder (left) and Dillian Whyte (right) could be next for Ruiz Jr
Ruiz has had a rollercoaster journey and when he steps back in the ring again on Saturday night, it could well be the start of one of boxing’s great comeback stories
After his fall from grace in the Saudi desert, Ruiz said he felt like he just wanted to hide away under his bed and eat Cheerios, but now the future seems bright once again.
From shocking the world to sinking to the depths of depression, Ruiz has already been on one heck of a journey.
How this next whirlwind will end only time will tell. Ruiz is convinced it will be with a world title around his waist.
Saturday night could well be the beginning of one of boxing’s great comeback stories.