Three knockdowns powered "The Destroyer" to victory over "King Kong" on Sunday night.
It took a split second for Andy Ruiz Jr. to remind the boxing world just how dangerous he could be.
Ruiz caught Luis Ortiz lacking for a moment and detonated a huge overhand right to score his first of three knockdowns to power his way toward a unanimous decision victory Sunday night. Judges at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles scored it 113-112, 114-111, and 114-111, all in favor of Ruiz, whose quick hands were too much to overcome for an aging but valiant Ortiz, 43. The bout was a WBC heavyweight title eliminator, meaning Ruiz inches closer to a world championship shot.
"I'm ready man. I'm hungry," Ruiz said during his postfight interview in the ring. "I want to be champion again and bring that belt back to Mexico!"
Ortiz beat the count at nine but would taste the canvas moments later in the same frame as they became entangled in a clinch, where Ruiz pushed him down. Although that second knockdown was ruled a knockdown, it should have been ruled a push.
Ortiz managed to create distance the following rounds, staying on the outside and peppering Ruiz with a right-handed jab. However, Ruiz remained patient and managed to uncoil a compact right hook to the temple that put Ortiz back on the canvas in the seventh round.
They tap gloves as a sign of respect. Ortiz comes out pressuring. He lands a thudding left hook. He's getting after it, going for it. He steps into the right-handed jab. And another. And another, before flashing a smile. Left uppercut connects for Ortiz. Where was this earlier? Halfway through. Sweeping left lands and a left hook for good measure from Ortiz. Under one minute. Ortiz mushes Ruiz's face and lands a right. Under 30 seconds. Ortiz with a thudding left hand. And another. Ten seconds. (10-9 Ortiz, 114-111 Ruiz)
Ruiz uncoils a counter right and another. Both fighters have swelling on their eyes. Ruiz rocks Ortiz with a big right hand on the chin. Ortiz's legs wobble. This is Ruiz's chance to close the show. One minute left. Whipping right lands for Ruiz. Ortiz's right eye doesn't look good at all. It's practically shut. The doctor might need to take a hard look. (10-9 Ruiz, 105-101 Ruiz)
Ortiz is loading up and connecting on hard lefts. Ruiz might be trying to bait him in to counter with something ultra-quick. Ortiz continues to slowly pump the jab. They briefly get entangled in a clinch. Nothing comes of it, and there's the bell. (10-9 Ortiz, 95-92 Ruiz)
Ruiz opens with a piercing right hand. And another moments later. Ortiz fires a left to Ruiz's chest. One-two lands for Ruiz, who finishes the combo with a lunging left. Ruiz lands. Slow, low-action round. (10-9 Ruiz, 86-82 Ruiz)
Ortiz sticks out the right-handed jab and lands three straight before a fiery exchange that "King Kong" also gets the best of. Hard body shot lands for Ruiz. Ortiz goes back to flicking out the jab. Lunging left-hand lands flush for Ortiz, who did a decent job of bouncing back. (10-9 Ortiz, 76-73 Ruiz)
Ortiz is doing a good job flicking his right jab and going for a heavy-handed left. Ruiz buries a right to the body. Ortiz continues to stay on the outside to pump that jab. Right hook lands for Ruiz is followed by a whipping right for good measure. A right-hand splits Ortiz's guard and brushes him back. Ruiz blasts Ortiz with a right to the head, and Ortiz goes down!
Ortiz goes to the body, trying to work his way in. Ortiz on the outside, flicking the jab and looking to unload with the left. Ruiz with a stinging right hand. Body shot from Ruiz, who swings and misses on a left-right combo. Ortiz lands a left. Another relatively low-action round with Ortiz taking it. (10-9 Ortiz, 57-55 Ruiz)
Ruiz buries a right hand into Ortiz's midsection. Ortiz continues to keep his distance, peppering the jab. Low-action round, but Ortiz lands a stinging counter right hook, reminding "King Kong" of his quick-striking ability. (10-9 Ortiz, 48-45 Ruiz)
Ortiz peppers Ruiz with a left hook. Ortiz is doing a good job keeping his distance from Ruiz right now while trying to assert the jab. He lands a right jab and goes to Ruiz's body with a left hand. Ruiz lands a right. Ortiz with a left and another. (10-9 Ortiz, 39-35 Ruiz)
Ortiz's upper and lower body are not in sync. He's still on wobbly legs as he's trying to bounce around and get them back after feeling the wrath of Ruiz's quick hands. Ruiz brushes Ortiz back with a right to the body. (10-9 Ruiz, 30-25 Ruiz)
The round opens with Ortiz landing another thudding left. Ortiz doubling up with his right-handed jab, looking to load up on his left. Whoa! Just like that, Ruiz blasts Ortiz with a counter right, and "King Kong" is down!
Ortiz is on wobbly legs, and he's back down! The second knockdown, although it should have been ruled a pushdown. Ortiz counters and lands. Ortiz with another big left hand, but Ruiz eats it somehow. Right-left hook combo lands for Ruiz. Right hand lands for Ruiz, but Ortiz fires back with a left. Fireworks! (10-7 Ruiz, 20-16)
Ruiz, outweighing Ortiz by 23 pounds, is looking to assert his jab. Right hand by Ruiz lands. Ruiz, in motion, scores on a one-two combo. Ortiz grazes Ruiz with a left. Ortiz ducks under a right from Ruiz, who lands a right to the body seconds later. Ortiz drives Ruiz back with a thudding left hand. So, Ruiz is dictating the action, but the hardest shot of the round comes from Ortiz's left. (10-9 Ruiz)
Isaac Cruz is one devastating puncher! He blasts and drops Ramirez with a lunging left hook for one knockdown. Ramirez beats the count, only for Cruz to blast him with a pair of left-right combinations and finish the show.
Cruz's crowd-pleasing style is already on display as he menaces forward, using his five-foot-four frame to crouch low while he looks for something to detonate with bad intentions. He's just beginning to make Ramirez feel his power. (10-9 Cruz)
On deck: Isaac "Pitbull" Cruz clashes with Eduardo Ramírez in a WBC lightweight title eliminator. Cruz bounced back from a unanimous decision loss to Gervonta Davis in December 2021 with a fifth-round TKO of Yuriorkis Gamboa in April.
Judges score it 96-94 Mares and 95-95 twice, making Mares-Flores a majority draw. Not the return bout Mares wanted, especially considering how strong he came on early in this one, but that's the verdict given across scorecards.