Andy Ruiz Jr. is well aware of the fight that might await him if Ruiz can beat Luis Ortiz on September 4.
Matching Ruiz against Deontay Wilder in what would be a battle between former heavyweight champions makes perfect sense. Ruiz and Wilder will headline FOX Sports Pay-Per-View shows a little less than six weeks apart and they’re the highest-profile Premier Boxing Champions-affiliated heavyweights who haven’t fought.
Ruiz would welcome a showdown with the returning knockout artist, but the former IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO champion isn’t thinking about potentially fighting Wilder while he gets ready to oppose Ortiz in a 12-round main event at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
“A matchup against Deontay Wilder would be an amazing fight,” Ruiz said during an open workout recently in San Diego. “The heavyweight division is wide open, but I’m not overlooking Luis Ortiz. If Wilder is next, he’s next. It’s an easy fight to make.”
Ruiz learned from overlooking Chris Arreola in his last fight, and it nearly cost him.
Arreola dropped Ruiz early in the second round and hurt him twice more, late in the second round and early in the third round. Ruiz regained control of their fight thereafter and boxed his way to a 12-round, unanimous-decision victory in May 2021 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Even at 43 years old, Ruiz believes Ortiz is entirely too dangerous to get distracted by the profitable possibilities if he beats the Cuban southpaw.
“I feel like I’m in a good state of mind right now,” Ruiz said. “I’m doing everything that I’m supposed to do. I underestimated my last opponent, but I’m really focused on what Luis Ortiz brings. This is another chapter for me and my career.”
Nevertheless, Wilder wants to fight Ruiz, too, although he picked Ortiz to beat Ruiz “in devastating fashion.” The former WBC champion, who will face Finland’s Robert Helenius on October 15 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, discussed Ruiz during a recent appearance on “The PBC Podcast.”
“If Ruiz wins, it’s not if, it’s a matter of when,” Wilder told co-hosts Kenneth Bouhairie and Michael Rosenthal. “It’s the same for any of the guys in the [PBC] stable. If you’re in this business to be great and make money, then we all have to fight each other. That’s just the bottom line. I’m in the business of giving fans great fights.”
Oddmakers most have installed Ruiz (34-2, 22 KOs), of Imperial, California, as at least a 3-1 favorite over Ortiz (33-2, 28 KOs), who lives and trains in Miami. Ortiz has lost only to Wilder (42-2-1, 41 KOs), who dropped him three times and stopped him the 10th round of their first fight and knocked him out in the seventh round of a rematch Wilder was losing decisively on all three scorecards.
Wilder, meanwhile, is regularly listed as a 7-1 favorite versus Helenius (31-3, 20 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.