Andy Ruiz will have to honor his original commitment.
BoxingScene.com has learned that a fight with Luis Ortiz is back in play for Ruiz, barely 48 hours after the former unified WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight titlist was revealed to next face Tyrone Spong atop a July 16 Triller Pay-Per-View event from Plaza de Toros in Mexico City. The announcement came as a surprise to many in the media, including Ortiz and Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) who reminded the California-based Mexican heavyweight of a deal in place for an in-house clash later this summer.
ESPN.com boxing insider Mike Coppinger was the first to report the development.
While Ruiz (34-2, 22KOs) was prepared to face Spong (14-0, 13KOs) in July, BoxingScene.com was informed that a fight with Ortiz (33-2, 28KOs)—a Cuban southpaw based out of Miami—will likely take place in August. The fight will likely headline a PBC Pay-Per-View, though such details were not made available as this goes to publish.
Ruiz-Ortiz has been in discussion since at least last spring, when both were on site in different roles at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Ortiz and his team were in attendance for a Fox Sports PPV headlined by Ruiz, who faced and defeated Chris Arreola in his first fight since he showed up grotesquely out of shape in a points loss to Anthony Joshua in their December 2019 rematch in Saudi Arabia. Ruiz claimed the titles in a seventh-round knockout of Joshua earlier that June, ironically in a fight that was offered to and declined by Ortiz’s team on roughly six weeks’ notice despite being offered a career-high payday for their troubles.
Ruiz accepted the fight with Joshua on five weeks’ notice, ultimately making history as the first-ever fighter of Mexican descent to claim a piece of the heavyweight title. Ortiz went on to face then-unbeaten WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder in a November 2019 rematch, where he was ahead on the scorecards before suffering a one-punch, seventh-round knockout at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Just two fights have followed for Ortiz. The former two-time heavyweight title challenger—both coming against Wilder—claimed a 45-second knockout of Alexander Flores in November 2020, followed by a year-long ring absence before surviving two knockdowns to stop former IBF heavyweight titlist Charles Martin this past New Year’s Day at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Ortiz hoped to face Ruiz on the date, instead settling on Martin, against whom he trailed on all three scorecards before rallying to earn a bailout knockout on Fox Sports PPV.
From there came revisited plans for Ruiz and Ortiz to next meet. Ruiz even took to social media to gauge interest in such a fight, which was met with favorable reaction aside from having to pay for another PPV just to see it.
The announcement from Triller on Wednesday to instead reveal a fight with Spong was met with immediate backlash. It was also met with a legal threat, as lawyers had get involved to enforce a signed commitment already in place for Ruiz to next face Ortiz, who turned 43 in March and is eager to take on as many big fights as possible in the advanced stage of his career.
To their credit, the team at Triller Fight Club immediately stepped down upon learning of the existing agreement between Ruiz and Ortiz. As noted in the ESPN.com report, Triller agreed to park its fight for a later date, providing that Ruiz gets past Ortiz whenever they meet later this summer.
A contingency plan for Triller’s now vacant July 16 headliner was not yet known at this time.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox