By: Sean Crose
I’ve only spoken with Luis Ortiz once. That was back in 2015, in the leadup to his battle with fellow heavyweight contender Bryant Jennings. I asked the then undefeated Cuban “if he felt Jennings may have changed as a fighter since losing to (Wladimir) Klitshcko.” The answer, and the tone that accompanied it, took me back. “He thinks he’s nothing like Klitschko,” Ortiz’ interpreter said, “so don’t compare them.” That was it. I later wrote that Ortiz had seemed “confused and defensive” by my question at the time. At the moment, however, it’s doubtful Ortiz is confused at all. He, along with most, if not all, of the boxing public undoubtedly knows he needs a win when he faces former multi-titlist Andy Ruiz next Monday in Los Angeles.
Ortiz, at 43 years of age, is not a kid, after all. What’s more, he’s been defeated twice, both times by Deontay Wilder. Although Ortiz showed that he could give the hard hitting American trouble with his impressive skill set, he ended up falling victim on both occasions to then WBC champ Wilder’s thunderous power. While Ruiz isn’t known to have the power Wilder does, the man can swat effectively, nonetheless. Just ask Anthony Joshua, who Ruiz stopped in stunning fashion back in 2019 (Joshua went on to defeat Ruiz in their rematch six months later). What’s more, Ruiz has fast hands, and, when at his best, is the farthest thing from an easy out for any fighter.
In other words, a victory over Ruiz next Sunday would be just what the doctor ordered for Ortiz’ career. It would show that he can still square off effectively against a high level opponent. It would also show that the man might be able to earn himself another title shot. A loss to the talented Ruiz, however, might mean the beginning of the end of Ortiz’ career. Should Ruiz prevail next Sunday night in their pay per view headliner, Ortiz may well end up being a gatekeeper rather than a serious contender. And that’s clearly not something the man known as “King Kong” wants.
From all impressions, Ruiz, who hasn’t always been the most disciplined of fighters, looks fit and determined leading into this fight. Doubtless Ortiz will enter the ring next weekend in prime fighting shape, as well. The Ortiz-Ruiz bout may not be offering any world title belts, but it will most likely be offering two established, powerful and skillful fighters performing at their very best. There’s a lot at stake here for both men, after all. Nothing confusing about that.