Andy “The Destroyer” Ruiz Jr., a former unified heavyweight champion, and top contender Luis “King Kong” Ortiz squared off for the first time on Wednesday at a press conference in Los Angeles to discuss their highly anticipated WBC Heavyweight World Title Eliminator, which will be the main event of a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View on September 4 at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
Another speaker at the press conference was L.A., a former three-division world champion. Abner Mares, a beloved fan favorite, is getting ready for the pay-per-view program when he will make his long-awaited comeback against Miguel Flores.
Two other emerging lightweight talents will compete on the pay-per-view telecast: Mexico’s Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz will face off against seasoned challenger Eduardo Ramirez in the co-main event, and at 9 p.m., Jose Valenzuela will square off against former world champion Jezreel Corrales. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Tickets for the live performance, which are being marketed by TGB Promotions, are currently available online at AXS.com.
At 10:00 p.m., the pay-per-view telecast will start. ET/7 p.m. PT and feature competitive bouts amongst a talented roster of up-and-coming and seasoned professionals. The 12-round WBC Lightweight Title Eliminator will feature hard-hitting Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz versus seasoned Mexican opponent Eduardo Ramrez as the co-main event.
Popular three-division champion Abner Mares will also make his long-awaited return to the ring in a 10-round super featherweight showdown against former title challenger Miguel Flores, and exciting rising star José Valenzuela will square off against former world champion Jezreel Corrales in the 10-round lightweight pay-per-view opener.
Tomorrow, June 23, at 10 a.m., TGB Promotions will begin selling tickets for the live event. PT and are available for purchase at AXS.com.
Up to 10 p.m., pre-sale tickets are currently available. AXS.com through PT using the following codes: BOXING or CRYPTO
“The fight fans in Los Angeles are in for an action-packed Labor Day Weekend as Southern California’s Mexican-American star Andy Ruiz Jr. returns in his toughest test since his title run, against the always dangerous Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz on September 4,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “This is a perfect clash for the electric atmosphere at Crypto.com Arena and is sure to deliver fireworks. The FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View main event will prove once again that high-stakes heavyweight action is a must-see event. Adding in a slew of intriguing undercard matchups and this will be a night that will keep fans glued to their seats from start to finish.”
When he was called in as a last-minute substitute to fight heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua in 2019, Ruiz (34-2, 22 KOs) surprised the boxing world. Ruiz defeated Joshua by knocking him out in the seventh round and winning the championships. The 32-year-old from Imperial, California lost his rematch with Joshua by unanimous decision, but he made his way back to the ring in May 2021. After recovering from an early knockdown, he defeated all-action challenger Chris Arreola in a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View fight by unanimous decision. Throughout his celebrated amateur career, which began with two Mexican Amateur National Championships, Ruiz has defeated several opponents.
“I’m so excited to get back in the ring in front of all of my fans in Los Angeles on September 4,” said Ruiz. “This is my chance to prove to everyone that I’m going to be heavyweight champion of the world again. I’m super motivated to be facing a great fighter like Luis Ortiz, so my fans can expect to see me at my best. Everyone has wanted to see this fight and we’re going to give everyone a war on fight night.”
Ortiz (33-2, 28 KOs) has been a mainstay at the top of the heavyweight rankings for years thanks to his outstanding power and superb technical skills; his only losses came in memorable fights against former heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. Ortiz, who was raised in Miami and taught by veteran trainer Herman Caicedo, was born in Camaguey, Cuba. He defeated Travis Kauffman, Christian Hammer, and Razvan Cojanu in three fights during the Wilder bouts. Most recently, on January 1st, Ortiz won a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View, overcoming early difficulty to knock out former heavyweight world champion Charles Martin in the sixth round.
“I’m blessed to be back in a position to get closer to achieving my goal of becoming the first heavyweight champion of the world from Cuba,” said Ortiz. “Anyone who doubts me, has only fueled me to keep going. I know that I have to make a big statement in this fight, and that’s my plan on September 4. I respect Andy Ruiz, but he’s standing in my way and I’m going to do whatever it takes to go through him.”
After losing a close decision to three-division champion Gervonta Davis in December, the 24-year-old Cruz (23-2-1, 16 KOs) returned to the ring in April and knocked out former champion Yuriorkis Gamboa. Cruz, a Mexico City native, rose quickly in the lightweight rankings in 2020 after shocking seasoned fighter Diego Magdaleno in the first round in October. Cruz followed that up in 2021 by defeating the previously unbeaten Matas Romero in a unanimous decision in March and the former champion Francisco Vargas in a decision in June, both victories coming before the Davis match.
“I’m very happy and motivated to come back in the ring in front of the great fans in Los Angeles on September 4,” said Cruz. “I’ll be facing a very good opponent and I’ll be back at the same arena where I faced one of the best fighters in the division in Gervonta Davis. Stepping back into the ring there is pumping me up even more and I can’t wait to start throwing my hands on fight night.”
Ramrez (27-2-3, 12 KOs), who fights out of Sinaloa, Mexico, has won five straight fights to put himself in title contention as he prepares to make his lightweight debut against Cruz. The 29-year-most old’s recent victory came in a decision over Luis Melendez in May. Prior to that, he had easily defeated Miguel Marriaga in a decision in December 2021. Since losing to former featherweight champion Lee Selby in 2017, Ramrez has won seven of his previous eight contests.
“I am coming up in weight for this fight, but that just means I’ll be that much stronger,” said Ramírez. “I’m excited [about] this opportunity because after I win, I will be recognized as a top fighter in my new division. He’s not going to outbox me and he can’t knock me out, so he has no way to win. I’m planning on showing the world what I can do against a perfect opponent for me.”
Mares (31-3-1, 15 KOs), one of the most skilled boxers of this generation, will return to the ring in an effort to continue building upon his already impressive body of work in the sport. Mares, a Mexican boxer who was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, and currently resides in Montebello, California, competed for Mexico on the Olympic boxing squad in the 2004 Athens Games before going on to win world championships in the bantamweight, super bantamweight, and featherweight divisions. Mares distinguished himself from many of his contemporaries with the type of high-volume fights that he engaged in twice against Leo Santa Cruz for the featherweight world title. Mares has beaten major challengers and champions during his career, including Daniel Ponce de Leon, Vic Darchinyan, Joseph Agbeko, Anselmo Moreno, and Jesus Cuellar.
“I know everyone is used to seeing me suited and booted on T.V. talking about the beautiful sport of boxing, but let me remind everyone, I’m a bad m-f’er in the ring, and on September 4, the world is going to remember what they missed,” said Mares. “I’m the best in boxing in speed, power, intelligence, and good looks. Miguel Flores is on my radar, and I’m sorry to say, he’s going back to elementary school after meeting me. I’m a master in this game, and I’m back. Welcome to Team Mares 2022.”
In his previous fight, which occurred in June of last year, Flores (24-4, 12 KOs) overcame back-to-back losses by winning a decision over Diuhl Olguin. The 29-year-old had lost two fights, ones against top challenger Eduardo Ramirez in December 2020 and four-division champion Leo Santa Cruz in November 2019. Flores, who was born in Mexico and currently resides in Spring, Texas, made his pro debut in 2009 at the age of 17 and won his first 22 fights.
“I’m very motivated to be on the big stage once again and I’m excited to get into the ring,” said Flores. “This is a huge opportunity for me against a three-division champion and I’m doing everything I can to make the most of it. This is Michoacán vs. Guadalajara and we’re going to give all the fans a great show on September 4.”
The unbeaten two-time world champion David Benavidez trains alongside the 23-year-old Valenzuela (12-0, 8 KOs), who is aiming to maintain his standing as a contender in 2022. When Valenzuela defeated former world champion Francisco Vargas in round one of their fight in April, he was amazing. Born in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, Valenzuela began his professional career in 2018 and went on a five-bout knockout run before defeating Deiner Berrio in September 2021 and winning his first fight after 10 rounds.
“I’m extremely motivated for this fight,” said Valenzuela. “My opponent is an accomplished former champion and this is the kind of challenge that I’ve been asking for. I’m going to come into this fight extremely prepared to make another statement on September 4 and give the fans a great show like I always do.”
Since switching to lightweight in 2021, Corrales, 30, (26-4, 10 KOs) has won three straight fights and moved up to the number two spot in the WBA rankings. Fighting out of San Miguelito, Panama, Corrales captured the super featherweight title in 2016 when he traveled to Japan and stopped Takashi Uchiyama. In their rematch, Corrales prevailed by decision. Additionally, he has triumphed against veteran challenger Robinson Castellanos and current former champion Rene Alvarado.
“Valenzuela is a good young fighter with some skills, but he doesn’t have the experience to handle what I’m bringing to the ring,” said Corrales. “This is going to be like when the great Panamanian champion Roberto Duran took Davey Moore to school. Class is going to be in session on September 4 and no amount of studying is going to have him ready for what I’m planning to do.”
The following is what the press conference attendees said on Wednesday from City View Terrace at the Los Angeles Crypto.com Arena:
ANDY RUIZ JR.
“We’re here again and I’m thankful for another opportunity. We didn’t come here to cherry-pick anybody. We wanted a tough opponent and that’s why we picked Luis Ortiz. He’s strong, he’s awkward, he’s a lefty, but we’ve had a long training camp and we’ll be ready.
“The main thing for me is going to be staying busy. I’m not underestimating Luis Ortiz, because he comes to fight. He wants to be [a] world champion. On September 4, we’ll go toe-to-toe and we’ll see who’s going to win.
“It feels good to have this fight set. We know this isn’t going to be an easy fight. He has a different style than what I’m used to, but we’ve trained really hard at the gym to perfect the craft. He’s going to bring it, but we just have to do the best we can to get this victory and go on to win world titles. This is a big fight for me to climb back up the ladder.
“The main focus has just been training my skills. This isn’t a weightlifting contest, so I’ve been getting back to what originally made me a champion. I’m not here to lose weight or look the part, I just want to be the part.
“I think this is a similar fight for me to the Anthony Joshua fight, it’s just that he’s a lefty. We have a great team and we’re working hard. September 4 is going to be a hell of a fight.
“I wanted to work with (new trainer) Alfredo Osuna a long time ago, it just wasn’t the right time then. He’s used to training for lefty fighters. I feel like this is exactly what I needed for this fight. My team is going to bring the best out of me.
“I’ve been doing this all my life. I’ve been fighting since I was six-years-old, so the muscle memory is there. I needed this long training camp for this type of fight. That’s going to help me get comfortable in this fight.
“I love fighting here in California. I always wanted to fight at this arena. The first time I ever saw Luis Ortiz fight was here at this arena, and my dad told me that one day I was going to fight him. Now that day is here.
“The people wanted this fight and we’re going to give the people what they want. It’s going to be a hell of a show.
“This might not go the distance, but I’m prepared to go all 12 rounds. We’re going to get this victory no matter what on September 4.”
“I’m very grateful to be back in this position and fighting at the top level. I’m thankful to Andy for taking this fight and I’m truly looking forward to it.
“As of right now we’re preparing for the best Andy Ruiz. We know that he’s not just any fighter. He’s a former world champion and that doesn’t happen by luck. I’m ready for him and may the best man win.
“I’m very excited. The fans are going to see two fighters who love to battle and love to punch and punch hard. This is a dream come true and we’re not going to disappoint the fans on September 4.
“I got good experience from fighting Charles Martin. There were some hiccups in the fight, but I’m going to carry the lessons that I learned into this fight.
“I don’t believe there’s any advantage to the fact that I’ve been more active than Andy. I believe in hard work and the mental makeup of a fighter. That’s what I’ve been focusing on day after day.
“My main objective right now is to win on September 4. Then after that, I’ll see who crawls out and steps up. So far there haven’t been too many at the elite level.
“This fight is going to end in a knockout. I’m sure Andy thinks the same thing. This one isn’t going to go 12 rounds.”
“It’s been a long wait. I’m thankful to everyone who still believed in me. I’m overwhelmed and really happy to be back and making this comeback.
“I’m feeling really good. I’m 36 but I’m feeling like I’m 26. I’ve kept myself in the gym this whole time and I’m feeling very confident. I’m looking forward to a great comeback.
“I’m just trying to come back, get a fight in, and take it fight by fight. I’m just happy to give everyone a great fight. That’s what I do at the end of the day. This is an entertainment business and I’m here to entertain.
“I wanted to fight here back in my hometown of L.A. I’ve had memorable fights here and this is my house. I’m blessed to be fighting at Crypto.com Arena.
“There are no easy fights and Miguel Flores is not a walk in the park. He gave Leo Santa Cruz hell. This isn’t an easy comeback. He’s there to take advantage of the name that I have, but I’m here to show him what the old timers do.
“Not too many people get this opportunity to step back into the ring. What really did it for me was watching Gervonta Davis vs. Mario Barrios in person. That made me really want to get back in the ring.
“I started sparring already and I’m feeling better and better. I see the progress and that motivates me and lets me know that I’m only going to get better. I’m not putting any pressure on myself. I’m just going to give it my all and do what I’ve trained to do.”