By: Hans Themistode
Even the staunchest fans of Andy Ruiz Jr. were bemused by his opponent selection.
It was recently revealed that the former unified heavyweight champion would make his first ring appearance of the year against unheralded Tyrone Spong. Although the former kickboxing champion hasn’t competed in the sport of boxing since 2019, he happily answered the call.
Ruiz Jr. vs. Spong was set to take place on July 16th in a homecoming bout for Ruiz Jr. as the pair were expected to trade blows in Plaza de Toros in Mexico City. Despite the breaking development, Ruiz Jr. will not be facing Spong after all. Instead, the Mexican star will take on longtime heavyweight contender, Luis Ortiz.
According to Mike Coppinger of ESPN, who was the first to report on the switch of opponents, Ruiz Jr. not only agreed to face Ortiz initially, but he also signed his name on the dotted line before inking his contract to face Spong.
After stumbling upon the original news, Ortiz lambasted Ruiz Jr.
“He’s a coward,” said Ortiz of Ruiz Jr. during a recent interview with the El Nuevo Herald. “He knew how badly I wanted to fight him but he decided to take an easy route. I repeat, he is a coward.”
With the two now scheduled to face off in what’s likely to be a pay-per-view headliner in August later this year, the former two-time heavyweight title challenger is licking his chops.
Even at the age of 43, Ortiz proved that he not only has the requisite skills to compete against the upper echelon of the division but more importantly, the desire. Throughout his long and fruitful career, Ortiz has only suffered defeat at the hands of Deontay Wilder in both 2018 and 2019. Regardless of his shortcomings, Ortiz is currently on a two-fight win streak.
On the first day of 2022, Ortiz waged an all-out war against former titlist, Charles Martin. Although Ortiz was sent crashing down to the canvas on two separate occasions, he flipped the tables on his man in the sixth, as he would go on to stop the former IBF trinket holder.
Despite his attempts to face Spong, a showdown against Ortiz aligns more with the Mexican star’s current ambitions. Since scoring one of the more surprising victories in recent memory against Anthony Joshua in June of 2019, Ruiz Jr. would return to the ring in considerably less than optimal shape. As a result, Ruiz Jr. would lose a wide unanimous decision against Joshua in their immediate rematch.
While Ruiz Jr. expressed disappointment, he’s bounced back nicely, winning a wide unanimous decision against perennial fringe contender, Chris Arreola in May of 2021. Should Ruiz Jr. continue his winning ways, the 32-year-old has stated time and time again that he would love nothing more than to re-wrap his waist with championship gold.
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