There are many top heavyweights who view Luis Ortiz as an obstacle they’d rather avoid if given the chance.

Andy Ruiz views the former two-time title challenger as a springboard to reclaim past glory.

The two will collide this Sunday atop a Fox Sports Pay-Per-View from Arena in Los Angeles. The bout is sanctioned as a WBC semifinal eliminator, which doesn’t necessarily guarantee a title shot for the winner. It wasn’t a prerequisite for Ruiz (34-2, 22KOs) to accept the fight, though.

“We picked Luis Ortiz because he’s a real top ten guy,” Ruiz insisted to “He’s a guy who’s very respected by everyone in the heavyweight division. That’s why we picked him. 

"We wanted someone on our resume to show everyone, we beat him and now we’re ready to fight on another level like [unified heavyweight titlist Oleksandr] Usyk or another big heavyweight fight. It’s a perfect opportunity.”

The fight is the first for Ruiz since last May 1, when he recovered from a flash knockdown to soundly outpoint fellow Mexican-American heavyweight and former title challenger Chris Arreola. The bout ended a 17-month layoff for the Imperial, California native following his points loss to Anthony Joshua in their WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO title fight rematch in December 2019, six months after knocking out the Brit in the seventh round to become the first boxer of Mexican descent to win a piece of the heavyweight crown.

Any momentum hoped to come of his win over Arreola was immediately squandered. A knee injury requiring surgery left Ruiz out of the ring for the rest of 2021, while waiting on a fight date after agreeing to terms to next face Miami’s Ortiz (33-2, 28KOs; 2NC). Enough of a delay in getting the fight over the line prompted California’s Ruiz—who turns 33 on September 11—to explore a stay-busy fight, which was due to come against Tyrone Spong on July 16 in Mexico City.

The event was canceled once it was determined that the contractually bound Ruiz-Ortiz fight was in a place to move forward. Either scenario was fine with Ruiz.

“I’m coming off a good win in my last fight,” noted Ruiz. “I’m back to where I want to be, not worrying about training to lose weight. I’m in shape, my focus is back and I’m where I want to be. The gordito power is coming back.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox