Andy Ruiz Jr landed in Auckland early yesterday morning looking relaxed and fresh to a rousing tangata whenua welcome at Auckland International.
He arrived on NZ5 flight from Los Angeles carrying Ruiz Jr and his entourage. The flight landed on time at 7.30am and the party exited Customs 30 minutes later.
He was met with a moving Powhiri from Kai Haka Kapa Haka Group inside the terminal. It was stirring and emotional. One of Ruiz’s brothers said of the welcome, “This is Auckland. I’m feeling the love right here.”
In the party was also Ruiz’s mother and two of his brothers.
Ruiz saw the Maori welcome as a huge mark of respect for him and his family.
“It was very special. You know, every culture has its own unique way of welcoming visitors, but that was special. I loved it.”
In the meeting with the press that followed, Ruiz spoke of his desire to earn Mexico’s first heavyweight title.
“There has never been a heavyweight champion of the world. God willing I am going to accomplish this.”
Ruiz was wearing an All Blacks jersey on his arrival. He said a man from New Zealand gave it to him in Los Angeles to wear on the flight.
He also paid tribute to his opponent and talked of Joseph Parker’s speed.
“We sparred together about three years ago. He is fast and has speed. He came to know something about me and I came to know something about him.”
“There are going to be fireworkd on December 10.”
Ruiz is not overwhelmed with the distance to fly to Auckland. He said he flew to Monaco for a fight and that was further, with more timezones to traverse than it is with Los Angeles to Auckland to fight Parker.
He is ready to rumble.