LOS ANGELES – 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.
The press conference also featured former three-division world champion and L.A. fan-favorite Abner Mares as he prepares to make his long-awaited return against Miguel Flores on the pay-per-view telecast.
Also stepping into the ring on the pay-per-view telecast are a pair of rising lightweight stars as Mexico’s Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz duels veteran contender Eduardo Ramirez in the co-main event, while unbeaten Jose Valenzuela battles former world champion Jezreel Corrales in the pay-per-view opener at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by TGB Promotions, are on sale now and can be purchased online at AXS.com.
Here is what the press conference participants had to say Wednesday from City View Terrace at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles:
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 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 This isn’t a weightlifting contest, so I’ve been getting back to what originally made me a champion.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.”
TOM BROWN, President of TGB Promotions
“There’s nothing like a great heavyweight fight. I’ll put a great heavyweight fight up against any sporting event in the world. It’s going to be a great night on Sunday, September 4.
“Los Angeles has always been revered as one of the greatest fight towns in the world. It’s been the hotspot for countless slugfests between the best fighters in the world and that’s what fans are going to get on September 4. Two guys with real heavyweight power.
“Andy desperately wants to be champion again and he’s training hard to get there. He’s risking everything against a dangerous opponent in the hard-hitting slugger Ortiz. It’s a huge opportunity for Ortiz too. He knows his only chance is to go through Ruiz. This is going to be a night you will not want to miss.”
Photos Courtesy of Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions