Andy Ruiz Jr took a major step towards another world heavyweight title shot by punching his way to a points victory over Luis Ortiz in their big showdown in Los Angeles on Sunday night.
Ruiz Jr (now 35-2) put Ortiz on the floor three times en route to a unanimous points decision over the veteran Cuban (33-3) on the big FOX Sports PPV show at Crypto.com Arena.
The Californian had shocked the boxing world more than three years ago when handing Anthony Joshua his first professional defeat in a huge upset at Madison Square Garden. Six months later he would turn up flabby and out of shape for their rematch in Saudi Arabia before losing the IBF, WBA and WBO world titles he had won in the first meeting.
This was only Ruiz’s second fight since that night, and he came in at exactly the same weight he had for the first AJ fight – 268lbs. It proved the right call – as he said beforehand, he was preparing for a fight and not a bodybuilding contest.
Knockdowns crucial in Ruiz win
Andy was on top for most of the night but it was the three knockdowns which proved crucial in the final reckoning. The first two arrived in Round 2 and one of them was an absolute beauty, courtesy of a huge right hand. It was an excellent riposte from Ruiz Jr, who had himself been staggered by a big shot from Ortiz in the opening session.
Ruiz continued to display the fast hands an blistering flurries which had put paid to Joshua’s championship reign in 2019, and he gradually knocked the stuffing out of the 43-year-old Cuban. A third knockdown arrived in Round 7 courtesy of another chopping right.
By the time we got to the championship rounds the left eye of Ortiz was virtually closed as Ruiz held the edge. A peach of a right hand in Round 11 stiffened the legs of ‘King Kong’, before Ortiz recovered to finish well in the 12th.
Ruiz vs Ortiz scorecards
Both men were throwing leather right until the final bell sounded, and to the scorecards we went. One judge had a wafer-thin 113-112 verdict for Ruiz while the other two had it a more believable 114-111.
This bout had been designated as a WBC heavyweight title eliminator, as is next month’s Deontay Wilder vs Robert Helenius showdown in New York. The victory lines up Ruiz for a showdown with the winner of that fight.
Afterwards he said: “God willing he (Wilder) wins in October. We’re in the same organisation. We can make this fight happen, let’s do it, let’s get it on.”
Wilder meanwhile added: “Deontay Wilder’s back, we’re always looking for great, exciting fights. If that’s what lies up next, I’ve gotta handle business, but after that we can get it on.”