Slimmed down Andy Ruiz Jr. hopes win over Luis Ortiz leads to championship return
Heavyweight contender Andy Ruiz is relaxed and in shape going into Sunday’s clash against Luis Ortiz.
It is a far cry from him taking training camp for granted, like he concedes that he did before the rematch against Anthony Joshua.
Ruiz is now committed to regaining at least a piece of the heavyweight championship. He must get by Ortiz at Crypto.com Arena (formerly known as Staples Center) in Los Angeles, California. The 12-round bout will headline a four-bout FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View telecast (10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT).
The Ruiz-Ortiz fight is a clash between heavyweights ranked in the top-10 by The Ring. Ruiz and Ortiz are ranked No. 5 and 6, respectively.
Ruiz (34-2, 22 knockouts), who resides in Imperial, Calif., has not fought since May 1 of last year, when he defeated Chris Arreola by unanimous decision in a clash of Mexican-American fighters.
The 32-year-old reached the pinnacle of his career, at this point, in June 2019, overcoming a knockdown to knock out and defeat Joshua to win the unified heavyweight title. The reign was short-lived as he would lose to Joshua by unanimous decision in the rematch over six months later, due in part by putting on 16.5 pounds from the first fight, partying and not training enough in a lackluster effort.
Over the last several months, Ruiz has put out videos on social media of him much slimmer and in shape in preparation for the Ortiz fight. He claims to now be in a better place in his life and his boxing career.
“I’m trying to make a big statement,” said Ruiz at Thursday’s press conference. “Not just for the fans, but for myself. Losing all those titles that I won broke my heart. This is another chance for me to become champion and I don’t want to lose it. I want to take full advantage of it and do my best.”
Ruiz will be going up against a hard-hitting southpaw in Ortiz (33-2, 28 KOs), who is originally from Camaguey, Cuba and now resides in Miami, Florida. In his last bout on January 1, Ortiz overcame two knockdowns to stop former world titleholder Charles Martin in the sixth round.
Despite being 43, Ortiz is still a dangerous puncher. Ruiz is not overlooking Ortiz, who stands between him and a possible world title shot in 2023.
“At the end of the day, we both have the same dream,” said Ruiz, who was once promoted by Top Rank and now fights under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) banner. “(Ortiz) wants to make history, but I’m going to have my hand raised up high and I’ll be the one who comes out victorious.
“His plan is to try to knock me out, but we’ve trained really hard. If it goes the distance, we trained hard. I’m ready for anything he brings to the ring. Everyone wants a knockout, but if you look for the knockout, you make mistakes and pay the price. That’s what we’ll be waiting for.”
Ruiz knows a loss would be a significant blow in his journey toward another opportunity to fight for a world title belt. A convincing win over Ortiz Sunday would put him back amongst the elite in the heavyweight division.
The setbacks he suffered from his losses to Joseph Parker and in the rematch against Joshua have placed a mixture of a sense of urgency and discipline into Ruiz.
Boxing insiders may pick Ortiz to defeat Ruiz solely based on Ruiz’s outing against Joshua, but the Mexican-American is eager to prove people wrong. He hopes to make a statement at the expense and place himself more in position to contend for a world title belt in 2023.
“I focus more on boxing now, because in my last fight, I was focused on how I looked. I want to be the past, not look the part. I trained so hard for this moment.
“Beating Luis Ortiz will help me become a world champion again. That’s the reason I’m still fighting. I want to become a two-time world champion.
“All the hard work and dedication, the blood, sweat and tears, it’s time for it all to pay off. It’s time to get the victory.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing