The former unified heavyweight champion puts on a power punching display, taking a major step toward another world title shot in the main event of FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View from Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
Andy “The Destroyer” Ruiz doesn’t throw a lot of punches. It’s probably because the Mexican-American heavyweight doesn’t have to. Each punch lands with a terrible thud, followed by a sweat hallow, and then another thud—from his opponent falling.
Ruiz dropped two-time world title challenger Luis "King Kong" Ortiz three times on Sunday night on his way to a 12-round unanimous decision in a WBC heavyweight title eliminator in a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View from the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
Ruiz, Jr. (35-2, 22 KOs) knocked down the Cuban southpaw twice in the second, and once in the seventh, with essentially the same punch, a pulverizing right on the left side of Ortiz’s head.
Ruiz won 114-111 on Edward Hernandez Sr. and Zachary Young’s scorecards, and 113-112 on Fernando Villarreal’s card.
“Everyone was doubting me, but I worked so hard for this fight,” said Ruiz, who was facing a southpaw for the first time. “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.”
After a feeling-out first round, Ortiz (33-3, 28 KOs) added an exclamation point with a straight left to Ruiz’s face at :17 left.
With 1:51 left in the second, Ruiz caught Ortiz with a counter right on the side of the head, which downed the 43-year-old Ortiz. He got up on gimpy legs and Ruiz had to do little for referee Thomas Taylor to rule a second knockdown. Ortiz appeared in trouble, though he ended the exciting second with a big left into Ruiz’s face.
Each fighter used the third round to recharge, when Ortiz began pecking away behind the jab to steadily get his legs under him and get back into the fight. The rangy Cuban began establishing a safe distance for him, which worked well.
Ortiz was content staying outside using the jab, while Ruiz stayed back at the end of that jab. It wasn’t a good position for Ruiz to be in as the fight broke the midway point.
With :32 left in the seventh, Ruiz slipped in a right on Ortiz’s face. A few seconds later, Ruiz dropped Ortiz for the third time in the fight with the same right, in the same area of Ortiz’s head, as the seventh came to a close.
“It was a difficult fight,” Ruiz said. “I was waiting for him to load up and countering him when he did. It was a blessing we were able to be successful. I want to fight at least three or four times a year. I'm hungry and I want to be champion again and bring that belt back to Mexico.”
As the eighth opened, it looked apparent that Ortiz would need to stop Ruiz to win.
With his left eye almost closed shut, Ortiz could not keep Ruiz off of him. Ruiz landed several concussive rights, one in particularly, where he smashed Ortiz right on the left eye.
Knowing he was in trouble, Ortiz went after Ruiz in the 12th round, to no avail. Ruiz did enough to hold off Ortiz, but not without making the fight close.
“I told you I was going to be a warrior and that's what I did,” Ortiz said. “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.
“I'd want a rematch. The eye wasn't a problem for me. Do you think I'm done after the way I fought? Do the people think I'm done? I don't think so.”
Ruiz, on the other hand, has his sights on another big fight.
“If Deontay (Wilder) wins in October, me and him are with the same management and we can make this fight happen. Let's do it. Let's get it on.”
Isaac Cruz smashes Eduardo Ramirez in two
Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz is forever relentless. He’ll keep charging, and charging, and if you’re not fortified against those assaults, you won’t last long.
Eduardo Ramirez didn’t.
Cruz (24-2-1, 17 KOs) devoured Ramirez in their scheduled 12-roundWBC lightweight title eliminator, stopping Ramirez at 2:27 of the second round.
“I stuck to my game plan. This was what we had crafted throughout training camp. The crowd just motivated me even more to go out there and finish him off like I was able to do.”
In the second, a devastating Cruz left hook forced Ramirez’s eyes to roll back into his head before he hit the mat. Ramirez(27-3-3, 12 KOs) struggled to his feet. Referee Jack Reiss warned him that if he didn’t see anything from him, he would end the fight. Cruz ended it by pounding Ramirez in the corner, beginning with a left hook, followed by a right, which crumpled Ramirez to the canvas again.
Reiss wisely stepped in and waved it over at 2:27 of the second.
“I lost and I have to accept that. I'll get better and move forward,” Ramirez said. 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.”
Cruz has now established himself as an elite 135-pounder.
“We want the rematch with Gervonta Davis,” Cruz said. “That's what these fans want. I promised the knockout tonight and we got it done. 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.”
Miguel Flores rallies, battles Abner Mares to a majority draw
Abner Mares wanted to go back into time and grab a glimpse of his storied past. The 36-year-old Mares once held the IBF bantamweight title, the WBC junior featherweight belt and the WBC featherweight title. He decided to make a return to the ring for the first time in four years—making his lightweight debut.
And for a few rounds in the beginning of his fight against Miguel Flores, Mares looked like he could recapture some of his youth.
Then the third round came, and the fourth, and then the fifth and with each passing round, Mares’ energy level shrunk.
Flores (25-4-1, 12 KOs) and Mares (31-3-2, 15 KOs) ended in a 10-round majority draw. Mares won 96-94 on Rudy Barragan’s scorecard, overruled by judges Pat Russell and Zachary Young, who each scored it 95-95.
“Obviously it had been over four years, so I was a little off with my timing and a little sluggish,” Mares said. “But I felt good and I thought I was landing the more powerful shots. He wasn’t hurting me so I was taking my time and boxing him. I didn't want to really put the pressure on too soon.”
Mares looked amazing in the second round, slamming Flores with looping right hands, and cracked a left hook off Flores’ chin. He even took a big left from Flores. Mares outlanded Flores 42-17 in the round, with flashes of the former three-division world champion.
“I didn't have any problems in there. I felt good, I was just getting used to the timing again,” said Mares, who in late-January 2019 underwent surgery on his right eye to repair a detached retina he injured after successive sparring sessions. “After four years away, I did enough to beat a young kid and an active fighter. 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.”
Through three rounds, Mares looked good. His pace had slowed since the first two rounds, and gradually dissipated as the rounds progressed. Mares used his smarts, pacing himself.
Mares’ fatigue was leaving openings, and on occasion, Flores took advantage. Mares did more standing. There was less head movement. Flores pounded Mares in the 10th. Flores slammed him with wide rights and was the aggressor, pushing Mares back.
“It was a good fight and obviously I thought that I pulled it off. I know we're in his hometown and he's a veteran so it is what it is,” Flores said. “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.
“It was a great atmosphere. It's hard to not let the crowd get you carried away. I know they were cheering for me too by the end. This leaves me in a great position. We got a draw against a three-division world champion so it leaves a good taste in your mouth.”
Edwin De Los Santos upsets Jose Valenzuela
It didn’t last long, though it was incredible while it did. Dominican lightweight Edwin De Los Santos, a late replacement for former WBA junior lightweight champion Jezreel Corrales who had VISA issues, stepped in and stopped previously undefeated and highly-touted prospect Jose Valenzuela at 1:08 of the third round in an upset.
Both fighters got up from second-round knockdowns.
“Valenzuela is a fighter who I feel has been protected and I wanted to show everyone what I'm capable of,” De Los Santos said. “The plan wasn't to come forward so much, but when I saw how he was fighting, I was ready to go toe-to-toe. The Mexican fighters love to fight like that, but he was open for me to attack.
“I came in against a ranked fighter tonight and I was up for the task. Now I want the same name that everyone wants. I want Gervonta Davis.”
In the first round, the southpaw De Los Santos caught Valenzuela leaning back with a left to the jaw, followed by a right, which rocked Valenzuela. With 1:40 left in the second, De Los Santos had Valenzuela in trouble again, with a combination that sent him reeling into the ropes.
Quickly, Valenzuela landed a left that got De Los Santos (15-1, 14 KOs) in trouble, and a right that knocked him down for the first time in his career. De Los Santos was not hurt, and it showed seconds later, when De Los Santos dropped Valenzuela (12-1, 8 KOs) for the first time in his career with a counter right hook to the chin.
As Valenzuela was on the canvas, De Los Santos hit him. Referee Ray Corona counted the knockdown, though took a point away from De Los Santos for hitting Valenzuela after he fell with :38 left in the second. At the time, De Los Santos had outlanded Valenzuela, 34-17, with 33 of his 34 connects power shots.
In the third, De Los Santos clearly recovered from his knockdown, while Valenzuela was still on unsteady legs. De Los Santos plowed Valenzuela with another right hook that floored Valenzuela a second time, and when Valenzuela got back up, De Los Santos jumped on him again. Corona would not let Valenzuela continue after another De Los Santos fusillade of punches.
“I want to thank the Mexican fans, because I really felt their love and support tonight,” Valenzuela said. “I didn't expect De Los Santos to be as aggressive as he was in the fight. He gave it out as he good as he took. I just want to focus on getting back in the ring and redeeming myself.”
For a closer look at Ruiz vs Ortiz, check out our fight night page.