Sunday’s heavyweight matchup between Luis Ortiz and Andy Ruiz is, in all likelihood, the last chance for either man to battle their way back into contention for a world title. It is that reality that adds more weight to a showdown between men most known for their roles as the B-side in fights with some of the best heavyweights of their era.
Ruiz (34-2, 22 KO) shocked the world in December 2019, knocking out Anthony Joshua to capture the WBA, IBF and WBO world titles. It was a perfect example of what Ruiz is capable of: speed, strength and combination punching that goes against what a casual observer would expect given his body type.
The rematch with Joshua the following December was the opposite, with Ruiz’s worst traits on display. Ruiz entered the fight at 283 pounds, up from 268 in the first fight. Ruiz seemed disinterested in putting in the hard work required to be the best in the world and it resulted in a poor showing as Joshua ran circles around him.
Ruiz has only fought once since losing his three world titles, a somewhat underwhelming showing against Chris Arreola in May 2021. Ruiz was dropped in the second round of that fight but did take a unanimous decision on fairly wide scorecards.
Discipline has been Ruiz’s kryptonite throughout his career and he has changed trainers multiple times in recent years. After splitting from Eddy Reynoso, Ruiz heads into the Ortiz fight with new trainer Alfredo Osuna.
“We picked Luis Ortiz because he’s a real top ten guy,” Ruiz said in an interview with BoxingScene.com. “He’s a guy who’s very respected by everyone in the heavyweight division. That’s why we picked him.
“We wanted someone on our resume to show everyone, we beat him and now we’re ready to fight on another level like [unified heavyweight titlist Oleksandr] Usyk or another big heavyweight fight. It’s a perfect opportunity.”
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Ortiz (33-2, 28 KO) spent many years as a feared member of the heavyweight division but big fights did not materialize for him until he landed a March 2018 fight with WBC champion Deontay Wilder.
Ortiz entered the first Wilder fight with a perfect record and having knocked out nearly every opponent he had faced. What followed was a thrilling war with loads of power shots thrown by both men before Wilder was able to score the stoppage in Round 10. The pair would rematch in November 2019, the second fight being fought at a much slower pace and with Ortiz arguably deserving to have won every round before a Wilder right hand ended the fight in the seventh round.
Ortiz has fought twice since losing his second chance to become world champion. In his most recent fight, his first in 14 months, Ortiz had to get off the canvas twice before knocking out Charles Martin.
The general consensus after the Martin fight was that age had finally caught up to Ortiz, 42, and that the countdown was on to the end of his career. And, to be sure, Ortiz looked slow, hittable and was not taking punches well at all. But they say power is the last thing to go and the end of the bout showed that Ortiz still has plenty of dynamite left in his fists.
The undercard on Sunday features one veteran contender looking to remain relevant in the title conversation and another looking to return to his former glory. Isaac Cruz is back in a lightweight affair when he takes on Eduardo Ramirez in the co-feature bout. Cruz, the 24-year-old from Mexico, pushed Gervonta Davis in their December 2021 showdown despite dropping a unanimous decision. He bounced back to stop Yuriokis Gamboa in April by fifth-round TKO. Plus, former three-division champion Abner Mares is set to come out of retirement when he takes on Miguel Flores at lightweight. Mares has not fought since June 2018 and has since picked up work as a color analyst for Showtime.
Ruiz vs. Ortiz card, odds
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
|Andy Ruiz -400
|Luis Ortiz +320
|Isaac Cruz -800
|Eduardo Ramirez +550
|Abner Mares -230
|Miguel Flores +190
|Edwin de los Santos
- Date: Sept. 4 | Start time: 9 p.m. ET
- Location: Crypto.com Arena — Los Angeles
- TV channel/PPV: Fox PPV | Price: $74.99
At his best, Ortiz would have made easy work of Martin. That he didn’t, and the way he looked throughout the fight, really does make it hard to pick Ortiz to get the win here. More than anything, it was how much Ortiz had slowed down that causes concern. Ruiz is fast for his size and looks to be in fantastic shape compared to those times where he has not managed his weight or diet ahead of a big fight.
Ortiz is likely going to struggle to find Ruiz all night. It’s true that Ortiz can end the fight with a single clean punch, but it’s simply more likely that Ruiz piles up rounds by working angles and clean combination punching while Ortiz lumbers around the ring looking to land a bomb. Pick: Andy Ruiz via UD