Luis Ortiz—and specifically, his team—turned down a chance to face Anthony Joshua earlier this year, but couldn’t have been more thrilled for the heavyweight who landed the assignment.
Andy Ruiz became the replacement appointment of choice to face England’s Joshua (22-1, 21KOs), whom he dropped four times en route to a 7th round knockout this past June in one of the biggest heavyweight title upsets in history. The opportunity was first offered to Ortiz, whose team declined in ultimately landing on a rematch with Deontay Wilder (41-0-1, 40KOs).
“I was very happy that Ruiz won the fight,” Ortiz (31-1, 26KOs; 2NCs) noted during a recent media conference call to otherwise discuss his Nov. 23 Fox Sports Pay-Per-View rematch with Wilder. “It was his destiny that night to do so and no one can take that from him. I'm very proud of him and obviously any Latino fighter that can enjoy that kind of prosperity in the sport is great for sure.”
The feat made California’s Ruiz (33-1, 22KOs) the first-ever boxer of Mexican descent to win a heavyweight title, and is set to defend his slew of titles in a Dec. 7 rematch with Joshua in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. By then, the outcome of Ortiz’s rematch with Wilder—which takes place at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada—will have been revealed.
Ortiz—a 40-year old Cuban southpaw who now lives in Miami, Florida—suffered a hard-fought 10th round knockout loss to Wilder in their first fight last March. A win on Saturday will make him the first-ever Cuban boxer to win a heavyweight title, with hopes of an all-Latino heavyweight title fight showdown at some point in 2020 should Ruiz repeat.
“I would be ecstatic to have a title unification fight, period,” notes Ortiz, who has won three straight heading into Saturday’s headliner. “I would be even more ecstatic if it were between two Latino fighters.
“As far as Ruiz winning or not, I'm not 100% sure on which way it goes but I would like to see him come out the victor once again.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox