There was a six-month period where Andy Ruiz and Deontay Wilder held all the heavy equipment.
Contractually tied plans for the two stood in the way of an undisputed and sought-after championship clash, although such a clash is once again a hot topic, even as they serve as former champions.
Ruiz helped start the conversation after earning a twelve-round unanimous decision victory over Miami’s Luis Ortiz. Three knockdowns paved the way for the former unified heavyweight roster to win by scores of 114-111, 114-111 and 113-112 atop a Fox Sports Pay-Per-View main event on Sunday night from Crypto .com Arena in Los Angeles.
The feat came with Wilder in attendance, six weeks away from his own PPV headliner against Robert Helenius on October 15 in Brooklyn, New York. A win for the former longtime WBC heavyweight titlist could set up a blockbuster showdown in the first quarter of 2023.
“God willing he wins (against) Robert in October, me and him are in the same organization,” Ruiz told Heidi Androl of Fox Sports after picking up his second straight win, highlighting their alliance with Premier Boxing Champions ( PBC). “I want to thank Al Haymon. He can make that fight happen. Let’s do it.”
Ruiz (35-2, 22KOs) was never able to pursue another opportunity after a historic win in June 2019 over England’s Anthony Joshua in New York. His acceptance of a late notification assignment against the undefeated WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight title roster carried an automatic rematch clause, which Joshua exercised and retaliated to regain his titles six months later in Saudi Arabia.
Wilder had just finished a repeat knockout of Ortiz (33-3, 28 KOs) less than a month before Joshua-Ruiz II, racking up the tenth defense in a WBC title reign that would last more than five years.
It ended with a seventh-round stoppage against Tyson Fury in their February 2020 rematch, completing an eight-month stretch that saw all heavyweight belts move from the United States to the United Kingdom. Wilder suffered an eleventh-round knockout against Fury in their epic trilogy clash. last October, as he enters the fight with Helenius after a 53-week inactive streak opening the bell.
A win will leave Wilder and Ruiz at one and two in the WBC rankings, and seemingly with a plan to square off next as Fury negotiates an undisputed championship clash with unified title slate Oleksandr Usyk (20-0, 13KOs).
“Deontay Wilder is back. He’s always looking for greatness,” Wilder said of such a fight. “That’s what he likes to give the fans. If that’s what comes next, I have to take care of business, but after that we can go on.
Jake Donovan is Senior Writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox