It almost feels like a throwback.
US fans around in the nineties will remember a decade where the heavyweight division was red hot…and expensive. It wasn’t just the legendary clashes like Evander Holyfield-Riddick Bowe, Lennox Lewis-Holyfield, or Holyfield-Mike Tyson.
You might get things like George Foreman-Jimmy Ellis as an HBO subscriber, and an occasional unexpected classic like Holyfield-Bert Cooper or Foreman-Michael Moorer but a lot of the action came with a suggested retail price. Holyfield’s clashes with Ray Mercer and rematch with Alex Stewart, Mercer versus Tommy Morrison, Morrison versus Razor Ruddock, Moorer-Cooper, even Bowe-Bruce Seldon…there was money to be made.
And there is often just a bit more to cover the freight on pay-per-view.
Andy Ruiz-Luis Ortiz is a quality clash between two of the better heavyweights of this era. Ruiz is a former titlist, snagging three belts for a cup of coffee after shocking Anthony Joshua. Luis Ortiz gave Deontay Wilder two tough nights, stopped both times and wondering what might have been had he slipped or blocked just a little bit better.
Both would like to get back to title opportunities as boxing seems headed toward an undisputed clash between lineal king Tyson Fury and unified beltholder Oleksandr Usyk. It’s a clash of big punchers with something to lose (Sunday, Fox PPV, 8 PM EST). Will fans get their money’s worth?
Let’s get into it.
Stats and Stakes
Previous Titles: WBA/IBF/WBO Heavyweight (2019)
Weight: 268 ¾ lbs.
Hails from: Imperial, California
Record: 34-2, 22 KO
Press Rankings: #3 (TBRB), #5 (Ring, ESPN)
Record in Major Title Fights: 1-2, 1 KO
Last Five Opponents: 155-20-2 (.881)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB/Ring Rated Foes: Joseph Parker L12; Anthony Joshua TKO7, L12
Additional Results, Current/Former Champions/Titlists Faced: Sergey Lyakhovich UD10
Current Title/Previous Titles: None
Weight: 245 ¼ lbs.
Hails from: Miami, Florida (Hails from Cuba)
Record: 33-2, 28 KO, 2 KOBY
Press Rankings: #6 (Ring), #7 (TBRB), #8 (ESPN), #10 (BoxRec)
Record in Major Title Fights: 0-2, 2 KOBY (0-2, 2 KOBY, 1 No Contest including interim title fights)
Last Five Opponents: 131-10-2 (.923)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: Bryant Jennings TKO7; Deontay Wilder TKO by 10, KO by 7
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: Charles Martin TKO6
The Pick: Ortiz is the taller, longer man and if he can establish his hammering jab early on, Ruiz will have to pay a price to close the gap. Ortiz shouldn’t want a shootout. A measured pace is to the older man’s advantage. Ortiz barely had the legs for it against Charles Martin in his last outing, coming off the floor twice and allowing his greater skill level to eventually overcome the physicality of the younger Martin.
Ruiz has also come off the floor to win, dramatically against Joshua in their first fight and again last year against veteran Chris Arreola. Ruiz has to bring the fight to win and could find himself troubled again by Ortiz’s southpaw left. Where Ruiz holds the edge is in youth and hand speed. He should be quicker than Ortiz and is one of the better combination punchers in the unlimited class. When Ruiz is inside the jab of Ortiz, he will have chances to score in multiple.
In a fight where both men are capable of hurting the other, the man better able to be first is going to matter and so is the ability to recover. This is unlikely to go the distance. Ortiz is the heaviest of his career. Ruiz is heavier than he was for Arreola by some thirteen pounds but still right near where he was for the first Joshua fight.
While Ortiz’s jab may be the first weapon in play, Ruiz’s speed and younger legs could see him assume early control. Ortiz looked vulnerable against Martin. Against Ruiz, there could be moments where he looks inert. Ruiz appears in good enough shape to allow his hand speed to work for him. The opening is there for a statement win and Ruiz is the pick for a big stoppage, perhaps even one that comes surprisingly early.
Rold Picks 2022: 37-9
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org