There was a six-month period where Andy Ruiz and Deontay Wilder held all of the heavyweight hardware.
Contractually bound plans for both stood in the way of a craved undisputed championship clash, though such a matchup is once again a hot button item even as they serve as ex-champions.
Ruiz helped initiate the conversation after scoring a twelve-round, unanimous decision win over Miami’s Luis Ortiz. Three knockdowns paved the way for the former unified heavyweight titlist to win by scores of 114-111, 114-111 and 113-112 atop a Fox Sports Pay-Per-View main event Sunday evening from Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
The feat came with Wilder in attendance, six weeks out from his own PPV headliner against Robert Helenius on October 15 in Brooklyn, New York. A win by the former long-reigning WBC heavyweight titlist could set up a blockbuster showdown in the first quarter of 2023.
“God willing, he wins (against) Robert in October, me and him are in the same organization,” Ruiz told Fox Sports’ Heidi Androl after earning his second straight win, pointing out their alliance with Premier Boxing Champions (PBC). “I want to thank Al Haymon. He can make this fight happen. Let’s do it.”
Ruiz (35-2, 22KOs) was never in position to pursue any other opportunity after an historic June 2019 title win over England’s Anthony Joshua in New York City. His accepting a late notice assignment against the unbeaten WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight titlist carried an automatic rematch clause, which Joshua exercised and gained revenge to regain his titles six months later in Saudi Arabia.
Wilder had just completed a repeat knockout of Ortiz (33-3, 28KOs) less than a month prior to Joshua-Ruiz II, racking up the tenth defense of a WBC title reign that would last five-plus years.
It ended in a seventh-round stoppage against Tyson Fury in their February 2020 rematch, completing an eight-month span that saw all the heavyweight belts shift from the U.S. to the U.K. Wilder suffered an eleventh-round knockout to Fury in their epic trilogy clash last October, as he will enter the bout with Helenius on the heels of a 53-week inactive stretch by opening bell.
A win will leave Wilder and Ruiz at one and two in the WBC rankings, and seemingly with a plan to next face each other while Fury negotiates an undisputed championship clash with unified titlist Oleksandr Usyk (20-0, 13KOs).
“Deontay Wilder’s back. He’s always looking for greatness,” Wilder said of such a fight. “That’s what he loves to give the fans. If that’s what’s lined up next—I gotta handle business but after that, we can get it on.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox