Is this Luis Ortiz’s last gasp?
The 43-year-old Cuban will face fellow heavyweight contender Andy Ruiz Jr. in what would appear to be a must-win pay-per-view fight Sunday night at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
Ortiz demonstrated in his most-recent fight that he can still whack out opponents, as he hurt Charles Martin with an overhand left, put him down moments later and ended the fight in a dramatic sixth round in January.
However, in the same fight, he went down from a jab in Round 4, which seemed to reveal a problem with punch resistance. Ortiz clearly doesn’t have the legs he once did.
That’s what makes the meeting with Ruiz so important for him. If he still has a chance to win his first world title, he had better move quickly because the clock is ticking.
Ortiz says he feels good.
“I’m always trying to reach the top of the mountain,” Ortiz said. “I want the top prize. This is a very important fight for me, but so is every fight. They all get me closer to another world title shot.
“It’s all about training, training and more training. I feel better now than I did when I was 25.”
Ortiz (33-2, 28 KOs) was groomed in the respected Cuban amateur system and had a successful career in the 2000s. He defected in 2009 to the U.S., where he turned pro in 2010 and won his first 28 fights (24 by knockout).
Then, in March 2018, he ran into his nemesis, then-titleholder Deontay Wilder. Ortiz came within a few punches of becoming champion when he hurt Wilder badly late in the seventh round of a close fight.
However, Wilder survived and ultimately took out Ortiz in the 10th to retain his belt. The challenger would never come closer to realizing his dream.
He received a second shot at Wilder and a title the following year but couldn’t get out of the seventh round. There are no guarantees that he’ll ever fight for a championship again, particularly if he doesn’t win on Sunday.
Ruiz (34-2, 22 KOs) doesn’t have Ortiz’s power but he’s a good, quick-handed boxer with heavy hands and experience in big fights. He also accomplished what Ortiz hasn’t to date, which was to become a titleholder when he upset Anthony Joshua in 2019.
Ortiz expects to do something on Sunday that no one else has been able to do.
“My intention is to knock out Andy Ruiz,” he said. “One of us is getting knocked out and I can guarantee this one doesn’t go to the judges. I have studied Andy from top to bottom. If I don’t knock you out with one punch, then I’m just going to chip away at you until you can’t go anymore.
“… I’m just focused on myself and doing my job. What’s going to cause Ruiz trouble in there is me, regardless of what kind of style I’m using.”
If he loses, he might no longer have a path toward a title fight. If he wins, he will remain in the thick of heavyweight picture he enters his mid-40s.
Fight Week: Andy Ruiz Jr. vs. Luis Ortiz and return of Juan Francisco Estrada
Andy Ruiz Jr. vs. Luis Ortiz set for Sept. 4 in Los Angeles
Luis Ortiz gets up from two knockdowns to stop Charles Martin in six