Former unified world heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. looks to work his way back into the world title picture as he faces former world title challenger Luis Ortiz at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles this Sunday.
The Mexican Ruiz Jr. blitzed his way through the US heavyweight scene with his impressive hand speed and underrated power. It would be in 2016 that he would get a shot at world title glory as he would travel to Joseph Parker's home country of New Zealand to contest the vacant WBO title. Ruiz Jr. would come up short that night as he was on the end of a razor-thin majority decision. After a two-year hiatus following the Parker bout, Ruiz Jr. would return to knock out Devin Vargas in one round.
Ruiz Jr. would get a unanimous decision victory over Kevin Johnson and then go on to defeat Alexander Dimitrenko nine months later. IBF, WBA and WBO world champion Anthony Joshua was due to make his US debut against Jarrell Miller, however, four weeks out from that bout, Miller was busted for the use of PED's. With Joshua searching for an opponent, Ruiz Jr. put his name forward and got the call. Ruiz Jr. entered the bout as the heavy underdog and would be sent to the canvas for the first time in his boxing career in round three. Ruiz Jr. rose to his feet and did the unthinkable and instantly floored Joshua upon rising. Ruiz would drop Joshua a further three times in the bout with his blistering hand speed, leading to the bout being stopped in round seven, crowning Ruiz Jr. the new unified world champion in one of boxing's biggest upsets.
Joshua would instantly invoke his rematch clause six months later with the bout taking place in Saudi Arabia. Ruiz Jr. came in heavier for this bout, leading to people questioning the Mexican's preparation coming into the bout. Ruiz Jr. would lose his titles by a wide unanimous decision. It would be 17 months before we saw Ruiz Jr. in the ring again, as he returned in 2021 to face Chris Arreola. Ruiz Jr. looked in better shape for this bout but would have to overcome a second-round knockdown to pick up the victory over Arreola.
Like Ruiz Jr, Ortiz also bludgeoned his way through the US heavyweight scene. It was in 2014 when Ortiz seemed to crack the scene as he would stop Lateef Kayode in one round to pick up the WBA 'Interim' title. However, Ortiz would fail a drugs test following the bout, ruling it a no contest. 13 months on, Ortiz stopped Matias Vidondo in three rounds to hold on to his 'interim' title. A seventh-round TKO over Bryant Jennings followed before Ortiz went on to stop Tony Thompson in six.
Ortiz would next sign a deal with Matchroom and his first fight n the deal would be against Malik Scott in Monte-Carlo. In one of the most underwhelming heavyweight bouts of all time, Ortiz picked up the win by unanimous decision. TKO victories over Dae Allen and Daniel Martz followed before Ortiz got his shot at WBC champion, Deontay Wilder. Ortiz would visibly hurt Wilder in the bout, but Wilder's freakish power led to Ortiz being stopped in round ten. Ortiz would bounce back four months later and stop Razvan Cojanu in two rounds.
Wilder was clamouring to get back into the world title picture and a tenth-round KO victory over Travis Kauffman and a unanimous decision over Christian Hammer would be enough to earn a second shot at Wilder. Ortiz wouldn't be able to get a foothold in the second bout and would find himself on the end of a brutal seventh-round knockout. Ortiz returned a year later to stop Alex Flores in a round before going on to face former IBF world champion, Charles Martin. Martin would floor Ortiz twice in the early stages but Ortiz would overcome these knockdowns to stop Martin in round six.
The paths of Ruiz Jr. and Ortiz cross this Sunday in a bout that is almost guaranteed to produce fireworks. It all goes down at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles and can be watched live on FOX in the US and FiteTV in the UK.