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Andy Ruiz Jr. Is Back in Heavyweight Title Mix

Images: Stephanie Trapp/ TGB Promotions

New York – Andy Ruiz Jr. made a statement Sunday evening and the former unified heavyweight champion with three knockdowns over Luis “King Kong” Ruiz scored the unanimous 12-round victory in their WBC Heavyweight little eliminator. The fight headlined a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View from Crypto Arena in Los Angeles.

Ruiz, defeated Anthony Joshua in June of 2019 for the WBA, IBF, and WBO titles at Madison Square Garden in New York and became the first heavyweight champion from Mexico. After his win, Ruiz stated it’s time to take the heavyweight title back to Mexico

First, though, Ruiz could have an eventual meeting with former WBC champion Deontay Wilder. Coming off a third fight and loss to WBC champion Tyson Fury, Wilder will return to the ring after a year long hiatus, October 15, a FOX Sports PPV at Barclays Center in Brooklyn versus Robert Helenius.

Widler, in attendance, made it known he would grab an opportunity to oppose Ruiz, all of course pending the outcome of his return.

Now, though, Andy Ruiz Jr, is back in the heavyweight championship mix for a piece of the titles after his win, secured with three knockdowns, two of them in the first round that could have decided the fight.

“Everyone was doubting me, but I worked so hard for this fight,” said Ruiz. “Ortiz is a warrior who hits hard. I did a beautiful job boxing him around. I showed more class than I usually do just coming forward.”

Ruiz (35-2, 22 KOs) got his hometown crowd on its feet early, as he delivered a clean right hand to score his first knockdown in round two. Ortiz (33-3, 28 KOs) would hit the canvas a second time in the round, but got to his feet again and delivered several strong left hands to keep himself in the fight and make it through the round.

“I told you I was going to be a warrior and that’s what I did,” said Ortiz. “This is Cuba vs. Mexico. This is what I live for. To everyone who said that I’m old, I gave you a war today. There are always surprises in boxing, and that’s what you got if you didn’t think I’d give it my all.”

Ortiz got himself back in the fight over the subsequent rounds with impressive boxing as he relied on his jab and movement to keep Ruiz from inflicting further damage. In round seven however, Ruiz struck again, backing his opponent up with a straight right before moving close and dropping Ortiz with an overhand right.

“It was a difficult fight,” said Ruiz. “I was waiting for him to load up and countering him when he did. It was a blessing we were able to be successful.”

Ortiz even owned a slight 78-76 edge in punches landed according to CompuBox, but it was Ruiz’s 67 power punches to Ortiz’s 56 that made the difference. After hurting Ortiz again in round 11 and winning the round on all three cards, Ruiz was able to hold off a late charge from Ortiz to edge the fight on the judges cards by scores of 114-111 twice, and 113-112.

“If Deontay Wins in October, me and him are with the same management and we can make this fight happen,” said Ruiz Jr. “Let’s do it. Let’s get it on. I’m hungry and I want to be champion again and bring that belt back to Mexico.”

“Deontay Wilder is back and I’m always looking for great exciting fights for the fans,” said Wilder. “If Andy Ruiz Jr. is what’s next, then I’m ready to get it on.”

In the co-main event, top lightweight contender Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz (24-2-1, 17 KOs) delivered a highlight-reel knockout over veteran contender Eduardo Ramirez (27-3-3, 12 KOs) in the second round of their showdown.

Already a fan-favorite after giving three-division world champion Gervonta Davis all he could handle in defeat at this same arena last December, Mexico City’s Cruz entered the ring to roaring approval as he looked for another statement victory.

“I was ready to win at all costs, for my family and what better way to win than here in front of all the great fans in Los Angeles,” said Cruz.”

Midway through round two, Davis showed the fight-changing power that he possesses and that has helped make him a fan favorite in Los Angeles and beyond. Cruz first connected flush with a big left hook around a Ramirez jab that sent Ramirez to the mat hard.

While Ramirez was able to get to his feet, Cruz pushed forward, sensing his moment to end the fight. Using a feint right hand, Ramirez caught Cruz cleanly with another left hook and followed up with a powerful right hand to score a second knockdown. This time referee Jack Reiss jumped in immediately and halt the bout 2:27 into the round.

“I lost and I have to accept that,” said Ramirez. “I’ll get better and move forward. I felt like I was fighting well and then everything turned all of a sudden. That’s just boxing. Now I’m going to rest, recover and plan my next moves going forward. But I’ll definitely be back, you can count on that.”

In his post-fight interview, Cruz declared his intention to rematch WBA Lightweight Champion Gervonta Davis, who was seated ringside.

“We want the rematch with Gervonta Davis,” said Cruz. “That’s what these fans want. I promised the knockout tonight and we got it done.”

Throwing The Punches:In his first fight in over four years, former three-division world champion Abner Mares (31-3-2, 15 KOs) fought Miguel Flores (25-4-1, 12 KOs) to an exciting majority draw after 10-rounds in their lightweight duel.

Mares had a hot start to his ring-return, landing a series of sharp right hands early in round two that brought his hometown Southern California crowd to its feet and landed 42 blows in the round. A world champion at bantamweight, super bantamweight and featherweight throughout his career, Mares believed he had done enough to win the fight.

“Obviously it had been over four years, so I was a little off with my timing and a little sluggish,” said Mares. “But I felt good and I thought I was landing the more powerful shots throughout.”

Although Mares held a 151 to 124 edge in punches landed, the two were even at 90 to 90 in punches landed throughout rounds three through 10. His improvement in the second half of the fight was enough for the victory in Flores’ eyes.

“It was a good fight and obviously I thought that I pulled it off,” said Flores. “I know we’re in his hometown and he’s a veteran so it is what it is. He was trying to pot shot me, but I was catching most of it. He got me with a couple good shots early on but I felt like I was in control after the fourth round.”

Flores had his best rounds in the final two frames, sweeping the ninth and 10th on all three cards to clinch the draw. The raucous 10th round left the fans on their feet with both fighters raising their hand in victory before the scores of 95-95 twice and 96-94 for Mares were read.

“After four years away I did enough to beat a young kid and an active fighter,” said Mares. “My performance speaks for itself. The crowd was happy and it felt good to be home. I definitely felt like I won but it is what it is, the judges saw a draw.”

In the pay-per-view opener, the Dominican Republic’s Edwin De Los Santos (15-1, 14 KOs) scored an upset via third-round TKO as he dropped the previously unbeaten Jose Valenzuela (12-1, 8 KOs) three times before referee Ray Corona waived off the bout 1:08 into the round.

Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com Watch “Sports with Rich” live on Tuesday Nights at 8pm EST on The SLG Network/Youtube with Robert Rizzo Available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify under The SLG Network. Like, Comment, Subscribe

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