Andy Ruiz and Luis Ortiz, two of the heavyweight division’s forgotten men, bid to return to relevance when they meet in a huge showdown in Los Angeles on Sunday September 4.
Former IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight king Ruiz (34-2 with 22 KOs) will fight for only the second time since 2019 when he locks horns with the now 43-year-old Ortiz on Labor Day Weekend at Crypto.com Arena.
Ortiz meanwhile (33-2 with 28 wins inside distance) has only been seen out twice since the second of his two pro defeats by ‘Bronze Bomber’ Deontay Wilder in November 2019. Wilder remains the only man to defeat the hugely talented Cuban veteran in the paid ranks.
Ruiz Jr, who stunned the world by dethroning Anthony Joshua at Madison Square Garden in June 2019, lost the titles he won that night six months later when turning up flabby and out of shape for the rematch in Saudi Arabia.
Since then the Californian has fought just once, a points defeat of veteran slugger Chris Arreola in May 2021. There is no easy tune-up here, the clash with Ortiz is a meeting of two men very firmly ranked in the top 10 of heavyweights today.
Andy Ruiz Jr on Ortiz showdown
He said: “We didn’t come here to cherry-pick anybody. We wanted a tough opponent and that’s why we picked Luis Ortiz. He’s strong, he’s awkward, he’s a lefty, but we’ve had a long training camp and we’ll be ready.
“The main thing for me is going to be staying busy. I’m not underestimating Luis Ortiz, because he comes to fight. He wants to be world champion. On September 4, we’ll go toe-to-toe and we’ll see who’s going to win.
“It feels good to have this fight set. We know this isn’t going to be an easy fight. He has a different style than what I’m used to, but we’ve trained really hard at the gym to perfect the craft. He’s going to bring it, but we just have to do the best we can to get this victory and go on to win world titles. This is a big fight for me to climb back up the ladder.
“The main focus has just been training my skills. This isn’t a weightlifting contest, so I’ve been getting back to what originally made me a champion. I’m not here to lose weight or look the part, I just want to be the part.
“I think this is a similar fight for me to the Anthony Joshua fight, it’s just that he’s a lefty. We have a great team and we’re working hard. September 4 is going to be a hell of a fight.”
Ruiz Jr had Eddy Reynoso (who trains P4P king ‘Canelo’ Alvarez) heading up his corner for the Arreola fight, but since then the pair have split and Andy has a new trainer now.
“I wanted to work with (new trainer) Alfredo Osuna a long time ago, it just wasn’t the right time then,” he explained.
“He’s used to training for lefty fighters. I feel like this is exactly what I needed for this fight. My team is going to bring the best out of me.
“I’ve been doing this all my life. I’ve been fighting since I was six-years-old, so the muscle memory is there. I needed this long training camp for this type of fight. That’s going to help me get comfortable in this fight.
“I love fighting here in California. I always wanted to fight at this arena. The first time I ever saw Luis Ortiz fight was here at this arena, and my dad told me that one day I was going to fight him. Now that day is here.
“The people wanted this fight and we’re going to give the people what they want. It’s going to be a hell of a show.
“This might not go the distance, but I’m prepared to go all 12 rounds. We’re going to get this victory no matter what on September 4.”
Luis Ortiz on Ruiz clash
Ortiz meanwhile gets another chance to put himself right back in the firing line for a world title shot, and he is not planning to pass up that opportunity.
He explained: “I’m very grateful to be back in this position and fighting at the top level. I’m thankful to Andy for taking this fight and I’m truly looking forward to it.
“As of right now we’re preparing for the best Andy Ruiz. We know that he’s not just any fighter. He’s a former world champion and that doesn’t happen by luck. I’m ready for him and may the best man win.
“I’m very excited. The fans are going to see two fighters who love to battle and love to punch and punch hard. This is a dream come true and we’re not going to disappoint the fans on September 4.
“I got good experience from fighting Charles Martin. There were some hiccups in the fight, but I’m going to carry the lessons that I learned into this fight.
“I don’t believe there’s any advantage to the fact that I’ve been more active than Andy. I believe in hard work and the mental makeup of a fighter. That’s what I’ve been focusing on day after day.
“My main objective right now is to win on September 4. Then after that, I’ll see who crawls out and steps up. So far there haven’t been too many at the elite level.
“This fight is going to end in a knockout. I’m sure Andy thinks the same thing. This one isn’t going to go 12 rounds.”