Andy Ruiz takes on Luis Ortiz on his way back to the heavyweight title | Boxing

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Andy Ruiz had a transcendent night in the ring three years ago, and he insists he’s determined to have more.

His clash with Luis Ortiz on Sunday night would be a good time to do something impressive. It could also be Ruiz’s last and best chance to get back on track to reclaim the championship belts he took from Anthony Joshua and then lost to the British star.

“I’m trying to make a big statement, and not just for the fans or my family,” Ruiz said. “I’m trying to make a statement for myself because losing all those titles broke my heart. To have the chance to position myself to be champion again, I can’t miss this opportunity.

Two veteran heavyweights meet in downtown Los Angeles as the main event of a pay-per-view show, but the spotlight is firmly on the young Mexican-American star who reigned atop the division with three major championship belts for six months in 2019.

Ruiz (34-2, 22 KOs) stopped Joshua in Madison Square Garden, using his hand speed and ring smarts to create one of the biggest upsets in heavyweight title history. But Ruiz was slower and heavier for the rematch in Saudi Arabia, and Joshua sent him outright to reclaim his belts.

Since that setback, Ruiz has had surgery on his right knee, changed coaches and lost a lot of weight. He also claims to have rediscovered the mental focus needed to train effectively and execute his strategy on fight night – and if he’s right, that will be the biggest change of all.

“I just needed to find my focus,” Ruiz said. “Once you make a decision in your mind that you’re going to accomplish something and commit to doing whatever you need to do to get there, that’s the hardest part. Everything else just does what you said you would do.

Ruiz’s comeback began last year with a victory over Chris Arreola, another Los Angeles-area veteran heavyweight whose formidable talents never quite overcame his shortcomings in training discipline. While Ruiz wasn’t overwhelming, he got the job done and then underwent knee surgery which delayed his next fight.

His next opponent is Ortiz, 43 (33-2-2, 28 KOs), who unsuccessfully challenged Deontay Wilder twice for the WBC heavyweight title. Ortiz has enough punching power to end any heavyweight’s night abruptly, but the Cuban didn’t look sharp in his last win over former champion Charles Martin on last year’s day. .

“This one is especially important because the winner of this one will hopefully fight to be the world champion,” Ortiz said through a translator. “It’s a stepping stone, so it’s the most important fight of our lives. We both know what’s at stake.

The show is expected to attract a healthy crowd of hungry Los Angeles-area fight fans, who will be able to stream the show’s live commentary from their phones’ web browsers over the arena’s wireless network.

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