Few were on record in backing Andy Ruiz to pull off his massive upset knockout win over Anthony Joshua earlier this year.
Plenty are on board with the belief that boxing’s first ever heavyweight titlist from Mexico will repeat the feat in December. Chief among them is the sport’s lone other claimant to the heavyweight throne.
“Andy Ruiz,” unbeaten heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder (41-0-1, 40KOs) told BoxingScene.com and other reporters when asked who he’s rolling with for the Dec. 7 rematch in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. “I liked him in the first fight with Joshua and I like him in the second fight as well.
“In my opinion, it’s an even more bigger fight between the two, you know. Especially how he won the first time."
Ruiz (33-1, 22KOs) recovered from a 3rd round knockdown to score two of his own in the very same frame, along with flooring England’s Joshua (22-1, 21KOs) twice more in the fateful 7th round of their DAZN streamed headliner this past June in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Joshua opted to exercise an immediate rematch clause, with Ruiz putting up a fight at the negotiating table before being financially persuaded to travel to Saudi Arabia for their awaited rematch, in which he defends a slew of heavyweight hardware.
The one remaining major heavyweight title belongs to Wilder, who has held his portion of the crown since Jan. 2015. He puts his belt on the line in a rematch of his own, as he faces Miami-based Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz (31-1, 26KOs; 2NCs) on Nov. 23, live on Fox Sports Pay-Per-View from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The bout takes two weeks prior to Ruiz-Joshua II, once again restoring hopes that an undisputed championship showdown takes place between the winners at some point in 2020.
As is the case with Wilder, California’s Ruiz fights under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) banner. After years of failed negotiations with Joshua, the belief is that a head-on collision with Ruiz will be far less problematic.
“With Joshua we tried many, many, many times to get that fight to unfold, to make that dream fight happen for the fans,” insists Wilder. “To unify the division and have one champion. As you can see, that was a long process, a process where, you know, we had different mile markers being stretched. Once we completed (one mark), we had to do something else, do this, do that, you know what I mean. It was a lot.
“It’s a gladiator’s sport, it’s a man’s sport. I’m a man and I don’t have time for games. Being that Ruiz is under the same stable as I… it’s a much easier fight to make, and in my opinion a much more exciting fight.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox