Boxing

Luis Ortiz-Andy Ruiz, The Best Non-Title Heavyweight Fight Out There?

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It’s now official and set for Sept. 4 on FOX PPV, at Cypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. Andy Ruiz Jr. vs. Luis Ortiz. And, debates over PPV-worthiness aside, this is a damn fine fight.

Ruiz made a mainstream-viable name for himself back in June of 2019, when he scored a major upset by stopping the UK’s defending 3-belt heavyweight champ, Anthony Joshua, at Madison Square Garden, in what was supposed to be Joshua’s grand American debut.

An unfocused and overweight Ruiz, however, lost those belts right back to Joshua five months later in Saudi Arabia via one-sided unanimous decision. There’ve been nothing but question marks about the Mexican-American big man since then, with only one fight– an uneven performance in a unanimous decision victory over Chris Arreola in May of 2021– since that Joshua loss. That would make only one fight for Ruiz in 33 months by the time he steps into the ring with Ortiz, with a current inactivity streak of 16 months.

There’s been talk about his inconsistency in training and his wavering focus. His in-and-out status in trainer Eddy Reynoso’s Team Canelo Alvarez gym is testament to what many see as a lack of full-time dedication. But there’s no question the talent is there and there’s also no question that he has the heart of a warrior once in the ring and tested.

Luis Ortiz, meanwhile, is facing a bit of a must-win situation against Ruiz. At 43 (and some say he’s older), the Cuban southpaw doesn’t have a whole lot of time left if he’s going to make one more run at a world title. In his last outing, against former IBF champ Charles Martin, he showed some frailties and had to get off the canvas twice before stopping his opponent in the sixth.

Ortiz’s pedigree is undeniable, though. Two close, competitive losses to then-WBC titlist Deontay Wilder are offset by victories over the likes of Bryant Jennings, Tony Thompson, Malik Scott, Christian Hammer, and Martin.

And, if you listen to him talk, he’s absolutely in the right frame of mind coming into this contest.

“I am ready as if the fight were taking place tomorrow,” Ortiz told Boxingscene.com.

“I put faith in myself. I don’t go into the ring looking for money. I am looking for my dream, which is to be world champion. Andy has a lot of ego on him. In this sport of boxing, ego does not work. Here you have to throw shots, train hard and have good discipline. That is essential. I have that discipline and the punches will not be lacking. I’m going to throw them at him and whoever stands in front of me.

“I’m ready to knock his head off. He has to take me down and knock me out. The fundamental thing is that I have the grace of God and angels. I am healthy and my mind is full of energy. I have more passion than Ruiz. I love boxing.”

Words like that have to burn at Ruiz’s pride and awaken the beast within. Facing an opponent like Ortiz, who talks like Ortiz, could provide the kind of motivation the former champ hasn’t had since he moved in as a last-minute replacement against Anthony Joshua and dreamed of shaking up the boxing world.

Meanwhile, Ortiz’s motivation will come from knowing that this could very well be his last shot at making it to the next level in the heavyweight division. Somebody as dangerous as him will be quickly cast aside as a high-risk, low-reward opponent if he loses and, at his age, he just won’t have the time to start building from the ground floor again.

With the winner moving on to a pretty much guaranteed title shot against Tyson Fury or the winner of the upcoming Oleksandr Usyk-Anthony Joshua rematch, Andy Ruiz vs. Luis Ortiz could be not only the best non-title heavyweight fight out there, it could also very well be the most important.

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Paul Magno has over forty years of experience in and around the sport of boxing and has had his hand in everything, from officiating to training. As a writer, his work has appeared in several online publications, including Yahoo Sports, Fox Sports, FightHype, Max Boxing, Boxing.com, Inside Fights, The Boxing Tribune, The Queensberry Rules, and Premier Boxing Champions. You can reach him at: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com

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