Connect with us

Andy Ruiz Needed Every Knockdown For Ortiz Win

Stephanie Trapp/SHOWTIME

Boxing News

Andy Ruiz Needed Every Knockdown For Ortiz Win

Former unified heavyweight titlist Andy Ruiz Jr. scored three knockdowns against Luis “King Kong” Ortiz and he needed every one of them.

The knockdowns allowed Ruiz to pull out a close unanimous decision in their WBC semifinal title elimination bout in the main event of the Premier Boxing Champions Fox Sports pay-per-view card on Sunday night at Crypto Arena in Los Angeles.

Ruiz put Ortiz on the canvas twice in the second round and again in the seventh round and held on for the victory despite Ortiz’s late rally.

Judges Edward Hernandez Sr. and Zachary Young each scored it 114-111 and Fernando Villarreal had 113-112. Without the knockdowns, the fight would have ended in a majority draw.

The victory moved Ruiz a step closer to a shot at the WBC title held by Tyson Fury, who is negotiating an undisputed title fight with Oleksandr Usyk. Former titlist Deontay Wilder was ringside and he is scheduled to face Robert Helenius in the other WBC semifinal eliminator on Oct. 15. If Wilder, who congratulated Ruiz in the ring after the fight, beats Helenius, a Wilder-Ruiz fight is quite possible next year.

“If Deontay wins in October, me and him are with the same management and we can make this fight happen,” Ruiz said. “Let’s do it. Let’s get it on.”

That sounded good to Wilder (42-2-1, 41 KOs), who twice knocked out Ortiz during his title run.

“Deontay Wilder is back and I’m always looking for great exciting fights for the fans,” said Wilder, a prohibitive favorite against Helenius. “If Andy Ruiz Jr. is what’s next, then I’m ready to get it on.”

First, Ruiz had to get by Ortiz — the first southpaw he had ever faced as professional in his 13-year career — and it was no easy task. Ruiz was fighting for only the second time since losing a near-shutout decision to Anthony Joshua in their rematch that cost Ruiz the world title belts in December 2019. He was also coming off a 16-month layoff since a tougher-than-expected decision over former contender Chris Arreola, who knocked him down, and subsequent right knee surgery.

“Everyone was doubting me, but I worked so hard for this fight,” said Ruiz, who became the first fighter of Mexican descent to win a heavyweight world title when he upset Joshua by knockout in their first fight in June 2019. “Ortiz is a warrior who hits hard. I did a beautiful job boxing him around. I showed more class than I usually do just coming forward.”

Overall it was a slow-paced fight, but whenever Ruiz let his fast hands go he gave Ortiz problems.

Ruiz (35-2, 22 KOs), 32, of Imperial, California, the big crowd favorite, gave Ortiz all kinds of problems in the second round. He landed an overhand right near the top of Ortiz’s head to drop him to a knee. Moments later, Ortiz went down again from what looked like more of a push than a clean shot, but referee Jack Reiss ruled it a knockdown. Ortiz collected himself and finished the round well when he landed a left hand.

Ruiz did not throw many punches but he touched Ortiz enough to put rounds in the bank in a fight that had the crowd booing the lack of action in the sixth round.

The 43-year-old Ortiz (33-3, 28 KOs), a Cuban fighting out of Miami, who is much slower than Ruiz, used the slow pace to his advantage. He kept his distance and kept Ruiz at the end of his jab.

But then Ruiz broke through again in the seventh-round with two quick right hands, each of which rocked Ortiz before he landed yet another one on top of the head to drop him in the final seconds of the round.

Although not many punches were landing, both men have power and did damage. Ruiz’s eyes were marked up and Ortiz’s left eye was swollen by the middle rounds.

There was no big finishing flourish from either man, although Ruiz rocked Ortiz with a right hand midway through the 11th round and Ortiz landed his fight-high 12 punches in the 12th round, including a solid left with Ruiz in a corner in the final seconds of the fight.

According to CompuBox statistics, Ruiz landed 76 of 287 punches (27 percent) and Ortiz landed 78 of 428 (18 percent). Ruiz finished with a 67-56 edge in power shots landed.

“It was a difficult fight,” Ruiz said. “I was waiting for him to load up and countering him when he did. It was a blessing we were able to be successful.”

Ortiz did not complain about the decision and was proud of his performance.

“I told you I was going to be a warrior and that’s what I did,” Ortiz said through an interpreter. “This is Cuba versus Mexico. This is what I live for. To everyone who said that I’m old, I gave you a war today. There are always surprises in boxing, and that’s what you got if you didn’t think I’d give it my all.”

Even at his age, he has every intention of fighting on.

“I’d want a rematch,” Ortiz said, although that is unlikely. “Do you think I’m done after the way I fought? Do the people think I’m done? I don’t think so.”

Ruiz hopes the win will be the start of a far more active schedule than he has had in recent years and lead him to another world title even with the prospect of a showdown with Wilder looming.

“I want to fight at least three or four times a year,” Ruiz said. “I’m hungry and I want to be champion again and bring that belt back to Mexico.”

Continue Reading

Since 2000, award-winning reporter Dan Rafael has covered boxing full time and been ringside for thousands of fights, first for five years at USA Today and then for 15 years at ESPN, where he wrote and appeared on various television, radio and streaming programs. In 2013, Dan was honored by the Boxing Writers Association of America with the Nat Fleischer award for career excellence in boxing journalism. Dan brings his great insight to the Big Fight Weekend site, podcast and more!

More in Boxing News

To Top