Former unified heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. moved one step closer to a possible fight with former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder after scoring three knockdowns on his way to a unanimous decision victory over Luis Ortiz in their WBC Heavyweight Title Eliminator Sunday night from Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles(FOX PPV).
The first heavyweight champion of Mexican descent won by scores of 114-111(twice) and 113-112.
Photos: Stephanie Trapp/TGB Promotions
Ruiz (35-2, 22 KOs) knocked Ortiz down two times in the second round and one time in the seventh. In the second round, Ruiz delivered a clean right hand to score his first knockdown, and Ortiz (33-3, 28 KOs) would hit the canvas a second time in the round from Ruiz combination.. In round seven, Ruiz struck again, backing his opponent up with a straight right before moving close and dropping Ortiz with an overhand right.
“Everyone was doubting me, but I worked so hard for this fight,” Ruiz said. “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.”
To Ortiz’s credit, he battled in this fight. In fact, Ortiz even owned a slight 78-76 edge in punches landed according to CompuBox, but it was Ruiz’s 67 power punches to Ortiz’s 56 that made the difference.
“I told you I was going to be a warrior, and that’s what I did,” said Ortiz. “This is Cuba vs. Mexico. This is what I live for. To everyone who said that I’m old, I gave you a war today. There are always surprises in boxing, and that’s what you got if you didn’t think I’d give it my all.”
After the fight, Ruiz stated his willingness to meet Wilder in a possible blockbuster showdown if Wilder is successful in his ring return on October 15 against Robert Helenius on FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View. Wilder, who was ringside, seemed interested in the potential matchup.
“If Deontay Wins in October, me and him are with the same management, and we can make this fight happen,” said Ruiz Jr. “Let’s do it. Let’s get it on. I’m hungry, and I want to be champion again and bring that belt back to Mexico.”
Wilder-Ruiz is a big fight and, as Ruiz said, an easy fight to make since both fighters are with PBC. It would be interesting to see if Ruiz could stand up to Wilder’s power or whether Wilder could avoid getting caught with those explosive shots from Ruiz.
Would be fun to find out!!
Former heavyweight world champion Charles Martin will highlight non-televised undercard action when he takes on former U.S. Olympian Devin Vargas in an eight-round attraction on September 4 in PBC action during Labor Day Weekend from Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
The event is topped by a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT featuring former unified heavyweight world champion Andy “The Destroyer” Ruiz Jr. battling top contender Luis “King Kong “ Ortiz in a WBC Heavyweight Title Eliminator in the main event.
The non-televised lineup will also include unbeaten Mexican flyweight Juan García (10-0-2, 7 KOs) in a four-round bout taking on Gilberto Mendoza (19-13-3, 19 KOs), plus a battle of unbeaten lightweights as Los Angeles’ Anthony Cuba (4-0-1, 3 KOs) faces Houston’s Óscar Pérez (5-0, 4 KOs) in a six-round attraction.
Rounding out the card is San Francisco’s Anthony Garnica (9-0-1, 5 KOs) in a six-round super bantamweight matchup against Anthony Casillas (8-2, 4 KOs), super lightweight Jesús Carrillo (10-7-2, 4 KOs) in an eight-round attraction and lightweight prospect Kel Spencer (1-0), the younger brother of rising super welterweight Joey Spencer, stepping into the ring for a four-round duel.
Martin (28-3-1, 25 KOs) became heavyweight champion in January 2016 when he won by TKO against then unbeaten Vyacheslav Glazkov. After losing his title to Anthony Joshua, Martin won five of six fights, with all of those wins coming inside the distance. Originally from St. Louis, now living in Las Vegas and currently training in Southern California with Manny Robles, Martin most recently challenged Luis Ortiz in a New Year’s Day showdown that saw him send Ortiz to the canvas twice before eventually losing in round six.
A 2004 U.S. Olympian, Vargas (22-7, 9 KOs) has fought professionally since 2004 and was a two-time National Golden Gloves Heavyweight Champion as an amateur. Originally from Toledo, Ohio, Vargas last fought in November 2020, dropping a contest to unbeaten Zhilei Zhang. Throughout his career, Vargas has challenged champions and top prospects and contenders including Andy Ruiz Jr., Dominic Breazeale and Junior Fa.
Former unified heavyweight champion Andy “The Destroyer” Ruiz Jr. held a media workout at his gym in the San Diego area on Wednesday as he prepares to face top contender Luis “King Kong” Ortiz in a WBC Heavyweight Title Eliminator that headlines a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View on September 4 in Labor Day weekend action at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
The heavyweight clash will top a stacked four-fight pay-per-view telecast beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT as Ruiz looks to move one step closer to regaining the heavyweight crown he held in 2019.
Ruiz was joined by his new trainer Alfredo Osuna, as they prepare for their first fight together on the big stage Labor Day Weekend, along with stablemate and unbeaten super bantamweight Anthony Garnica, who will compete on the off-TV undercard.
Here is what Ruiz had to say Wednesday:
On expecting a great fight against Ortiz:
“I’m feeling really good. The hard work has already paid off and now it’s just time to have fun on September 4. We’re going to let it all out in the ring. Me and Ortiz are coming to be champions, so you know it’s going to be a hell of a fight.
“I’m just ready. I had a long training camp. I know what Ortiz is bringing to the ring and I know what I’m capable of. I just have to stay focused and execute.”
Photos: Sean Michael Ham/TGB Promotion
On going for a knockout:
“When I try to go for the knockout, it usually doesn’t go my way. I’m training for 12 rounds and if the knockout comes, it comes. You best believe I’m in condition to go hard for all 12 rounds.
“I’ve been training hard because we want to climb back up the ladder of the heavyweight division. That’s why we picked a tough guy like Luis Ortiz. He has a hard style, but I’m positive and confident that I’m going to win this fight on September 4.”
On atmosphere at Crypto.com Arena:
“It’s going to be a crazy atmosphere in that arena. All the Mexican fans will be there supporting, and may the best man win. I’m glad that Ortiz is predicting a knockout, because I’m ready for anything. My only prediction is that I’m going to win.”
On fighting Deontay Wilder:
“A matchup against Deontay Wilder would be an amazing fight. The heavyweight division is wide open, but I’m not overlooking Luis Ortiz. If Wilder is next, he’s next. It’s an easy fight to make.”
On his mindset entering the fight:
“I feel like I’m in a good state of mind right now. I’m doing everything that I’m supposed to do. I underestimated my last opponent but I’m really focused on what Luis Ortiz brings. This is another chapter for me and my career.”
On Ortiz’s age:
“Ortiz’s age doesn’t matter, especially in the heavyweight division. Because one punch is going to change the whole fight. I just have to be smart and explosive and turn it up when I need to turn it up.”
Top heavyweight contender Luis “King Kong” Ortiz held a media workout in Las Vegas on Thursday as he nears his WBC Heavyweight Title Eliminator against former unified champion Andy “The Destroyer” Ruiz Jr.(34-2, 22 KOs), taking place September 4 from Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
Ortiz(33-2, 28 KOs) is coming off a stoppage win over Charles Martin on New Year’s Day, and according to Ortiz, who was dropped twice against Martin, he returned to the gym right away after the victory.
“I feel so good both physically and mentally,” he said. “I’m eagerly awaiting this fight, and you’re not going to want to miss it when we get in that ring.
“After I fought Charles Martin, I was back in the gym a week later. Whether I have a fight or not, I’m always active and staying ready.”
At age 43, Ortiz does not have much time to become a world champion, and even at his advanced age, Ortiz says he still feels young.
“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.”
Beating a former world champion like Ruiz won’t be easy. However, the man that gave Ortiz his only two losses, Deontay Wilder, who surprised Ortiz and attended the media workout in Las Vegas, thinks the Cuba native will get the job done on September 4.
“I’m going with my heart, and Luis Ortiz is a fighter with heart,” Wilder said. “Why do you think so many other fighters wouldn’t give him a chance?”
Photo: Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions
Ortiz appreciates Wilder’s prediction and has plans to stop Ruiz.
“I respect Deontay Wilder a lot, and I appreciate him picking me in this fight,” Ortiz said. “My intention is to knock out Andy Ruiz. One of us is getting knocked out, and I can guarantee this one doesn’t go to the judges.”
This is a 50-50 fight for sure. Ortiz still has power but looked a little shaky at times against Martin, and Ruiz was also dropped in his last fight against Chris Arreola, so Ortiz is probably right; someone is getting knocked out.
Former unified heavyweight world champion Andy “The Destroyer” Ruiz Jr. and top contender Luis “King Kong” Ortiz faced off for the first time on Wednesday, at a Los Angeles press conference to preview their much-anticipated WBC Heavyweight World Title Eliminator which headlines a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View on September 4 in a Labor Day weekend clash at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
Here is what Ruiz and Ortiz had to say Wednesday from City View Terrace at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles:
ANDY RUIZ JR.
Photos: Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions
“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 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.”
Former unified heavyweight champion Andy “The Destroyer” Ruiz Jr. and top contender Luis “King Kong” Ortiz will meet in a much-anticipated 12-round WBC Heavyweight Title Eliminator headlining a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View on September 4 in a Labor Day Weekend clash from Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
The pay-per-view telecast will begin at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT and feature a stacked lineup of rising and accomplished stars in high-stakes matchups. In the co-main event, hard-hitting Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz will step in to take on fellow Mexican and veteran contender Eduardo Ramírez in a 12-round WBC Lightweight Title Eliminator in the co-main event.
The action will also see the return of popular three-division champion Abner Mares in his first action in three years as he battles former title challenger Miguel Flores in a 10-round super featherweight attraction, plus exciting rising star José Valenzuela duels former world champion Jezreel Corrales in the 10-round lightweight pay-per-view opener.
Ruiz (34-2, 22 KOs) shocked the boxing world in 2019 when he was brought in as a late replacement to face heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua and turned the tables on the champion, knocking him out in the seventh round and taking home the titles. The 32-year-old from Imperial, California lost his rematch with Joshua by unanimous decision, but returned to the ring in May 2021, bouncing back from an early knockdown to defeat all-action contender Chris Arreola by unanimous decision in a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View. Ruiz has taken down a slew of contenders throughout his heralded career, which dates back to a prolific amateur run that included two Mexican Amateur National Championships.
“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.”
With exceptional power and sublime technical skills, Ortiz (33-2, 28 KOs) has been a fixture atop heavyweight rankings for years, with his only defeats coming in memorable contests against former longtime heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. Born in Camaguey, Cuba and trained by longtime coach Herman Caicedo in Miami, Ortiz won three bouts between Wilder contests, defeating Travis Kauffman, Christian Hammer and Razvan Cojanu. Most recently, Ortiz topped a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View on New Year’s Day, recovering from early adversity to floor former heavyweight world champion Charles Martin on his way to a sixth-round knockout.
“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.”
The 24-year-old Cruz (23-2-1, 16 KOs) returned to the ring in April with a knockout over former champion Yuriorkis Gamboa after dropping a competitive decision against three-division champion Gervonta Davis last December. A native of Mexico City, Cruz shot up the lightweight rankings in 2020, announcing his presence with an electrifying first-round knockout over veteran Diego Magdaleno in October. Cruz followed that up in 2021 by winning a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Matías Romero in March and by defeating former champion Francisco Vargas by decision in June ahead of the Davis clash.
“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.”
Fighting out of Sinaloa, Mexico, Ramírez (27-2-3, 12 KOs) has moved himself into title contention with five-straight victories as he looks to make a splash in his lightweight debut against Cruz. The 29-year-old most recently earned a decision victory over Luis Melendez in May, which followed up a dominant decision against Miguel Marriaga in December 2021. Ramírez is currently riding wins in seven of his last eight fights since losing to then featherweight champion Lee Selby in 2017.
“I am coming up in weight for this fight, but that just means I’ll be that much stronger,” said Ramírez. “I’m excited for 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.”
One of the most accomplished fighters of this era, Mares (31-3-1, 15 KOs) will return to the ring in a bid to continue adding to his already sterling resume in the sport. Born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico and now living in Montebello, Calif., Mares was a member of the Mexican Olympic boxing team in the 2004 Athens Olympics before going on to win world titles at bantamweight, super bantamweight and featherweight. His two battles for the featherweight world title against Leo Santa Cruz epitomized the kinds of high-volume clashes that set Mares apart from many of his contemporaries. Throughout his career, Mares owns victories over top contenders and champions 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.”
Flores (24-4, 12 KOs) bounced back from back-to-back defeats in his previous outing that took place last June, as he earned a decision over Diuhl Olguin. The 29-year-old had lost a pair of contests in challenging four-division champion Leo Santa Cruz in November 2019 and top contender Eduardo Ramirez in December 2020. Born in Mexico and now residing in Spring, Texas, Flores turned pro in 2009 at just 17-years-old and was victorious in his first 22 bouts.
“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 23-year-old Valenzuela (12-0, 8 KOs) trains as a stablemate of unbeaten two-time world champion David Benavidez as he looks to continue cementing his contender status in 2022. Valenzuela was sensational his last time in the ring as he blasted out former world champion Francisco Vargas via a round-one knockout in April. Born in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, Valenzuela turned pro in 2018 and rode a five-bout knockout streak before earning his first 10-round decision in a victory over Deiner Berrio in September 2021.
“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.”
The 30-year-old Corrales (26-4, 10 KOs) has won three-straight fights since moving up to lightweight in 2021 and has ascended to the number two ranking in the WBA. Fighting out of San Miguelito, Panama, Corrales won a super featherweight title in 2016 when he went to Japan and knocked out Takashi Uchiyama before winning a decision in their rematch. He also owns victories over current former champion Rene Alvarado and veteran contender Robinson Castellanos.
“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.”
Top heavyweight Luis “King Kong” Ortiz scored a sixth-round TKO of former heavyweight champion Charles Martin in a dramatic IBF Heavyweight Title Eliminator showdown that headlined a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View Saturday night from Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
In a back and forth battle that topped a five-fight all-heavyweight pay-per-view, Ortiz (33-2, 28 KOs) recovered from two knockdowns to earn the TKO over the former heavyweight titleholder Martin (28-3-1, 25 KOs). The fight got off to a hot start in round one, with Martin landing a bruising left hand to the side of Ortiz’s head that sent him down late in the frame.
While Ortiz was able to regain his composure and do effective body work and snap his jab, Martin struck once again at the end of round four, landing a hard jab with his right hand that put Ortiz down for the second time in the fight.
“I was very focused during this fight,” said Ortiz. “I was never worried. My trainer just told me to keep working the jab and that’s what I was able to do.”
In a battle of gargantuan southpaws, Ortiz landed the left hand that ultimately decided the fight, connecting on a counter early in round six that immediately dazed Martin, who looked potentially out on his feet. Ortiz quickly followed up with a flurry and scored the knockdown, leaving Martin with his glove tied up in the ropes.
“It was very difficult going southpaw against southpaw,” said Ortiz. “At the end of the day, my intelligence won the fight.”
Martin was able to rise to his feet and looked to hold on with over two minutes left in the round, but Ortiz was relentless in his attack and eventually forced referee Frank Santore Jr. to wave off the bout 1:37 into round six. Despite trailing on all three scorecards coming into the final round, Ortiz landed an impressive 57 percent of his power punches in the fight, including 19 of 23 in round six, according to CompuBox.
“I maintained faith the entire time,” said Ortiz. “I knew I had my family and these fans behind me. I told everyone that this fight would be fireworks. He knocked me down, but then I finished him. I respect him a lot and now I’m coming after every heavyweight in line for the title.”
Photos from Ryan Hafey/
Premier Boxing Champions
The new year will kick off with a heavyweight bang, as five exciting heavyweight matchups take center stage on a jam-packed FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View on New Year’s Day live from Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
The main event will see top heavyweight Luis “King Kong” Ortiz take on former world champion Charles Martin in a 12-round IBF Heavyweight Title Eliminator. In the co-main event, unbeaten rising heavyweight star Frank “The Cuban Flash” Sanchez will square off against Puerto Rican Olympian Carlos Negron in a 10-round attraction.
The pay-per-view telecast begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and will also see heavyweight contenders Jonnie Rice and Michael Coffie battle in a 10-round rematch, former title challenger Gerald “El Gallo Negro” Washington in a 10-round showdown against Turkish Olympian Ali Eren Demirezen and unbeaten Viktor Faust facing Iago Kiladze in a 10-round attraction to open the pay-per-view.
With exceptional power and sublime technical skills, Ortiz (32-2, 27 KOs) has been a fixture atop heavyweight rankings for years, with his only defeats coming in memorable contests against former longtime heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. Born in Camaguey, Cuba and trained by longtime coach Herman Caicedo in Miami, Ortiz won three bouts between Wilder contests, defeating Travis Kauffman, Christian Hammer and Razvan Cojanu. Prior to that run, Ortiz picked up victories over the likes of Bryant Jennings, Tony Thompson and Malik Scott to build up his heavyweight resume. Most recently, Ortiz blasted out Alexander Flores in the first round of their November 2020 bout.
“I can’t wait to give my fans in South Florida a great show on New Year’s Day and earn another shot at the heavyweight title,” said Ortiz. “Charles Martin is a good fighter, but he’s standing in my way. The only thing on my mind is getting in the ring and making a big statement in this fight to show again why I’m feared by the heavyweight division.”
The 35-year-old Martin (28-2-1, 25 KOs) became heavyweight champion in January 2016 when he won by TKO against then unbeaten Vyacheslav Glazkov. After losing his title to Anthony Joshua, Martin has won five of his last six fights, with all of his wins coming inside the distance. Originally from St. Louis, now living in Las Vegas and currently training in Southern California with Manny Robles, Martin bounced back from a narrow decision defeat to Adam Kownacki in 2018 to earn three-straight victories, including most recently knocking out Gerald Washington in February 2020.
“Nobody wants to fight me and nobody wants to fight Ortiz, so we’ll fight each other,” said Martin. “I’m going to show the world on January 1 why I deserve a title shot. I’ve paid my dues and I want my belt back. Beating Ortiz is going to get me one step closer to that goal. In order to become two-time heavyweight champion, I have to get past Ortiz first, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
An amateur standout from his native Cuba, Sánchez (19-0, 13 KOs) now trains in San Diego with top trainer Eddy Reynoso. The 29-year-old has stayed busy on his rise up the heavyweight rankings, scoring three victories in 2020 as he earned a unanimous decision over Joey Dawejko and stopped Brian Howard and Julian Fernandez. Sanchez most recently scored a career-best win in October, dropping previously unbeaten Efe Ajagba on his way to a unanimous decision victory.
“I’m happy to be back so soon after beating Agjaba, but the work is only beginning,” said Sanchez. “There’s much more to be done. I believe I will be the first heavyweight champion in Cuban history. Negron is a strong, dangerous opponent. I’ll have to be my best, but I’m confident that I will come out victorious. I believe in my team, and my team believes in me. We’ll start the New Year off getting to 20-0, remain busy and make a strong case for a world title by year’s end.”
The 2008 Puerto Rican Olympian Negron (25-3, 20 KOs) rides a five-fight winning streak into January 1, including four wins by stoppage. The 34-year-old bounced back from defeats to Dominic Breazeale and Brian Howard to put together his win streak, which includes a March 2020 knockout over previously unbeaten Robert Alfonso. Negron has fought professionally since 2009 and now lives in Miami where he trains alongside Luis Ortiz.
“This is a great opportunity for me to get a win over a strong up-and-coming fighter and show everyone what I’m capable of,” said Negron. “I’m training hard and I’ve had great sparring in order to be ready for anything that Sanchez is going to bring. My experience and preparation are going to be the difference. I’m extremely motivated to give the fans a great fight and put myself in position to get a world title opportunity.”
Born in South Carolina and now fighting out of Los Angeles, Rice (14-6-1, 10 KOs) will look to repeat a career-best performance in the rematch against Coffie, after he stopped the previously unbeaten fighter in the fifth-round in July. Rice won six of seven fights from 2018 through 2019 before a pair of losses in 2020 against then unbeatens Efe Ajagba and Demsey McKean. In a pro career that dates back to 2014, the blemishes on Rice’s records have all come against previously unbeaten fighters.
“In my last fight against Coffie, I went in there to prove myself and do what I had been training to do,” said Rice. “It was sink or swim, and I came out on top. Now I have to go out there on January 1 and show that it wasn’t a fluke. This is a great stage for me to display my talents and prove that I’m capable of big things. I’m looking to give the fans a great performance and I know that Coffie is doing the same. Don’t miss this fight.”
Coffie (12-1, 9 KOs) hopes to bounce back from his first career defeat after dropping the first matchup against Rice in July. A Marine Corps veteran who picked up boxing after returning from overseas, Coffie quickly impressed in amateur tournaments enough to earn sparring assignments with Deontay Wilder and Adam Kownacki. He was born in the Bronx, but now trains in Orlando, Florida and broke through in 2020 with three dominating stoppage victories, including knockouts over previously unbeaten opponents Darmani Rock and Luis Pena.
“I want to get it back and make it an actual fight this time against Jonny Rice,” said Coffie. “Last time, I was in a position where I faced some adversity, and I had to make a decision to go through with the fight. I know that I can fight through adversity, and on January 1, I will be ready for whatever way the fight goes. On January 1, there will be a fight.”
Washington (20-4-1, 13 KOs) is a six-foot-six heavyweight contender who was a former college football standout at the University of Southern California and a U.S. Navy veteran. Born in San Jose, California, Washington most recently lost a contest against former heavyweight champion Charles Martin in February 2020. Prior to that fight, Washington had delivered a knockout of veteran contender Robert Helenius in July 2019. Washington was unbeaten in his first 19 pro fights before dropping his world title challenge to Deontay Wilder in February 2017.
“I’m looking forward to stepping back in the ring on January 1,” said Washington. “I’m ready to go to work and get myself back in position for some big time fights. My experience is going to be the difference in this fight. It’s going to be a great night of heavyweight action!”
A 2016 Olympian for Turkey, Demirezen (14-1, 11 KOs) has fought out of Hamburg, Germany in the professional ranks since turning pro in late 2016. The 31-year-old won his first 11 pro fights, including a second round stoppage of Rad Rashid to capture a European heavyweight title in 2018. Demirezen made his only other U.S. start in 2019, when he became the first person to go the distance against Efe Ajagba, losing by decision. Since that defeat, Demirezen has scored three-straight victories, most recently stopping Nikola Milacic in March.
“I learned a lot from my loss to Ajagba and I’m looking forward to getting another chance to box in the U.S.,” said Demirezen. “I’m still angry about the Ajagba fight, because I know that I could have won. I want to show now that I belong on this stage. I’m proud to be in this position to show what I can do and I’m going to make the most of the opportunity.”
The 29-year-old Faust (8-0, 6 KOs) turned pro in February 2020 after an extensive amateur career fighting out of his native Svitlovodsk, Ukraine. Faust knocked out his first four opponents, before winning dominant six and eight round decisions. After a first round knockout over previously unbeaten Jacek Piatek in May, Faust made his U.S. debut in October, dropping Mike Marshall twice on his way to a third-round TKO victory.
“I’m really excited to be back fighting in the U.S. again on January 1,” said Faust. “I’ve been welcomed warmly and fighting stateside already feels like my living room. I love the atmosphere. This is a great chance to show myself on this pay-per-view show against a very high-quality opponent. I won’t disappoint fans when I step into the ring.”
Kiladze (27-5-1, 19 KOs) returned to the win column in September, with a knockout victory over Mathew McKinney. Since he began fighting stateside full time in 2017, Kiladze’s losses have come against top heavyweights Adam Kownacki, Michael Hunter, Efe Ajagba and Joe Joyce, who sported a combined 45-1 record heading into their matchups against Kiladze. Originally from Georgia and now fighting out of Los Angeles, Kiladze owns a 2019 draw against then unbeaten Robert Alfonso and won six straight fights between 2014 and 2018.
Alexander “The Great” Flores previewed his showdown against top heavyweight contender Luis “King Kong” Ortiz on a media conference call Tuesday, before they headline FOX PBC Fight Night and on FOX Deportes this Saturday, November 7 from Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
The broadcast begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and will see rising unbeaten heavyweight contender Frank “The Cuban Flash” Sánchez battle Brian Howard in the 10-round co-main event. Plus, undefeated Michael Coffie steps in to face hard-hitting Joey Abell in an eight-round heavyweight duel.
The event will be promoted by TGB Promotions and will take place without fans in attendance at the Microsoft Theater, an AEG venue, in downtown Los Angeles.
Here is what Flores had to say Tuesday about training camp, his matchup with Ortiz, both of their places in the heavyweight division and more:
“Training camp has been going really well. I’m always in shape year around. We were already aiming for a November fight, so when this fight against Ortiz presented itself, we jumped on it. We’re ready to take advantage of this opportunity.
“I got the call about Ortiz over six weeks ago. I just had to adjust to southpaw sparring but everything else kept going smoothly. It was tough to find sparring during the pandemic, but I was blessed to find some great quality southpaws to work with.
“Ortiz is a great fighter. He’s still one of the most feared men in the division. A lot of the people on his level don’t want to fight him. His only losses coming against Deontay Wilder says everything about his quality.
“Whenever you fight at that caliber that Ortiz has been at, I know you’re going to know what you need to do in training. But, the older you get, the harder it is to recover. It doesn’t get easier. Maybe his age will show up Saturday night.
“I thought Ortiz was beating Wilder in the second fight. I think he just relaxed at the 10 second mark and got caught with that straight right hand at the end of the round.
“I do think it’s possible I’m being overlooked by Ortiz. I’m just focused on what I can control. I know that one day I might not get these opportunities anymore, so I have to jump all over this one.
“Beating Ortiz will put me up with the top heavyweights. I think a win is going to definitely lead to a world title fight sooner rather than later.
“I’m expecting the best Luis Ortiz on Saturday night. I’m preparing for the same guy who was beating Deontay Wilder twice.”
“My opponent has to be perfect for 12 rounds, and I only have to be perfect for one second,” Wilder said on Wednesday.
The rematch was a lot like the first one. Luis Ortiz was in complete control of the fight as he was dominating Wilder for the first six rounds, but just as Wilder said on Wednesday, he only has to be perfect for one second. Wilder needed one punch to knock out Ortiz in the seventh round of their rematch Saturday night from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
In the first fight, Ortiz had Wilder in serious trouble in round 7, and he had control of that fight, but in the end, and just like he did on Saturday night, Wilder found a way to get it done.
“This is boxing,” said Ortiz. “I said that one of us was going to get knocked out and it wasn’t going to go 12 rounds. I was clear-headed when I hit the canvas. When I heard the referee say seven, I was trying to get up, but I guess the count went a little quicker than I thought.
“This was a great fight, and I thought I was clearly winning,” continued Ortiz. “I got caught with a big shot, and I have to give Deontay Wilder a lot of credit. I knew my movement was giving him problems. I landed some big shots, and I thought I had him hurt. I thought I was up by the count and could have continued.”
In the ring following the fight, the 40-year-old Ortiz asserted that he would continue his quest for a heavyweight championship.
“Deontay showed great will, and I’m not ashamed with my performance,” said Ortiz. “I know I can beat anyone in the heavyweight division. My career is not over. I’m going to work my way back into a big fight.”
Ortiz can beat any heavyweight in boxing, except for Wilder. Unfortunately, many may continue to avoid a southpaw with skill and power.
Photo: Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions