LOS ANGELES – Andy Ruiz Jr. believes he’s set himself up for a stiff test when he squares off against credible Cuban contender 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) will turn 33 years old one week after the fight; Ortiz (33-2, 28 KOs) is 43 years old. Despite the wide age difference, Ortiz is still widely considered a top 10 heavyweight, as both of his losses have only come to Deontay Wilder.
“Everybody has been waiting for this fight. Everybody wanted this fight. I asked for it, and they gave it to me. I'm not here to cherry-pick anybody. Luis Ortiz is a strong, heavy-hitting guy. I want a challenge. I want to fight the best fighters, and he's one of the best out there,” Ruiz told a group of reporters including BoxingScene.com.
“Styles make fights, and for me, this is one of the hardest fights of my career because this is my first time fighting a lefty. There are a lot of adjustments to make, but I'm here to take risks. I'm here to prove to the people and prove to myself that I am here to stay.”
Ruiz wants to make another run at a world championship after dropping his titles to Anthony Joshua nearly three years ago.
Since then, Ruiz has fought Chris Areola in May 2021, looking unspectacular in a unanimous decision win while suffering a knockdown.
“Luis Ortiz is one of the toughest guys out there. I know it's going to be hard, but I am going to pull this off,” said Ruiz. “He's a lefty, he's awkward, he's different. I can't look past him.
“One of the reasons I picked Luis Ortiz is just so I can get the hang of a lefty. I know I picked a hard opponent, but this is what the fans wanted to see. I didn't want to cherry-pick my opponent. Luis Ortiz is a big step up, and we have to climb back the ladder.”
Should he beat Ortiz, an in-house PBC opportunity that may be presented to Ruiz is the winner of the Oct. 15 bout between Deontay Wilder and Robert Helenius.
“Hopefully Wilder fights me next, but I have to beat Luis Ortiz first. It's not easy. It's going to be difficult. But I wanted this. The people wanted this,” said Ruiz. “I have to be myself and let my hands go, be cautious, and be smart. I'm focused. I'm ready.”
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.