Andy Ruiz Jr. has a date for his next bout, but he’s already looking forward to a potential next matchup should everything successfully follow to plan when he takes on Luis Ortiz on Sept. 4 at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on FOX pay-per-view.
The former heavyweight champion Ruiz (34-2, 22 KOs) is eyeing another former heavyweight champion in Deontay Wilder.
“I have to get back and work hard. The name is there, the talent is there, and all I have to do is stay disciplined and work hard and have all the right fights on me,” Ruiz told FightHype.com.
“I didn’t want to take easy fights, so I waited. That’s why we’re fighting Luis Ortiz because he’s a hard-hitting guy, an awkward guy. I’m not underestimating him like my last fight [against Chris Arreola in May] or nothing. We’re actually training hard. If I win [against Ortiz], I would want to fight Wilder if he comes out of retirement.”
At one point in 2019, Ruiz and Wilder controlled the entire heavyweight picture, but both boxers have since suffered defeats and lost their titles.
Ruiz will return to the ring for just the second time since Dec. 2019 when he dropped his heavyweight titles to Anthony Joshua after defeating Joshua six months prior.
The former WBC champion Wilder is on the heels of a two-fight losing streak to Tyson Fury. “The Bronze Bomber” was knocked out by Tyson Fury in Feb. 2020 and Oct. 2021, but he’s been teasing a return in recent months.
“[Wilder] was kind of saying that he didn’t want to, and makes more money outside of the ring than inside the ring. That kind of showed that he doesn’t really want to,” said Ruiz. “I don’t blame him. All the hard work and dedication that he did over the years. He accomplished a lot and was a champion for so many years. I can’t blame him. If he wants to enjoy his life without getting hurt, without getting punched in the face. He already did it. We all work hard, so we don’t have to work hard in life. He already did all the hard work, but so did I. I have enough money to where I don’t have to work any more. We have houses that we’re making, and I make money every month.”
The 32-year-old Ruiz admitted that he slacked off after shocking Joshua. He gained 15 pounds and fought at an unfit 283 pounds in the rematch.
Last May, he was knocked down by Arreola but scored a wide unanimous decision.
Ruiz wants to position himself for yet another world title run, and it begins by facing the 43-year-old Cuban contender Ortiz (33-2, 28 KOs) – who’s two lone career losses have come via knockout to Wilder.
“I got all these houses, but my dreams are not done. I want that WBC belt. I told my son, ‘I’m not going to retire until I have this WBC belt.’ Even if I lost again and lost another time, I’m still fighting until I get this belt. I want to stay champion, stay relevant with the WBC belt. Little by little, we’re getting there.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com.