Andy Ruiz drops Luis Ortiz three times, wins unanimous decision

Andy Ruiz Jr. is back in the title conversation.

The former unified heavyweight titleholder floored Luis Ortiz three times en route to a unanimous decision victory Sunday at Arena in Los Angeles.

The judges scored the fight 114-111, 113-112, and 114-111, all in favor of Ruiz, who scored his second consecutive victory.

With the win, Ruiz (35-2, 22 KOs) is in line for a shot at WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, who is in negotiations to face three-belt titleholder Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed championship. Former WBC titlist Deontay Wilder, who was ringside Sunday and returns next month against Robert Helenius, is another possibility for Ruiz. As for Fury, he has floated the idea of offering Anthony Joshua, who lost for the second consecutive time to Usyk on August 20, a shot at the green belt. This creates a whole mix of different scenarios that could play out well into 2023.

"If Deontay wins in October, me and him are with the same management and we can make this fight happen," said Ruiz. "Let's get it on. I'm hungry and I want to be champion again and bring that belt back to Mexico."

Ruiz knocked down Ortiz twice in round two, one with a quick right hand, and another that had no punch behind it, a result of referee Thomas Taylor blowing the call.

The 43-year-old Ortiz (33-3, 28 KOs) was effective from the outside with his southpaw jab. However, in close quarters, Ruiz got the better of him, a sign that Ortiz's best days are likely behind him. But the Cuban didn't go down without a fight. He stunned Ruiz in the second round with a right hand. Barring the early knockdowns, Ortiz would have escaped with a draw.

"It was a difficult fight," said Ruiz. "I was waiting for him to load up and countering him when he did. 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."

Ortiz cruised in the middle rounds before Ruiz landed another right hand that sent him to the canvas in round seven. By the end of round 11, Ortiz's left eye was badly swollen and lacked the gasoline required effectively push for the knockout in the 12th.

With the loss, Ortiz has dropped two of his last four fights, including a second defeat at the hands of Wilder in a 2019 rematch. Ortiz was also knocked out by Wilder in their 2018 affair.

"Everybody that said 'King Kong' is old, well, I gave you a war today," said Oritz, who recovered from two knockdowns to score a sixth-round knockout of Charles Martin in January. "I want a rematch. I was keeping my hands up so my vision wasn't a problem. Do you think I'm done? You saw a warrior tonight."

As for Ruiz, who knocked out Joshua in June 2019 in one of the biggest upsets in heavyweight championship history, is back in the hunt for title glory.

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