Shortly after the rematch between heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and former champion Wladimir Klitschko was officially rescheduled for Oct. 29 at Manchester Arena in Manchester, England on Wednesday, a key undercard bout between unbeaten heavyweight up-and-comers was also unveiled: Hughie Fury, Tyson’s cousin, taking on Andy Ruiz.
However, promoter Frank Warren either is not aware or elected to ignore an important fact: Ruiz (28-0, 19 KOs) is scheduled to first fight Franklin Lawrence (21-2-2, 16 KOs) on Saturday night (UniMas, 11 p.m. ET/PT) in Lemoore, California. Also, the contract for Fury-Ruiz has not been finalized, according to the Ruiz camp -- nobody from which was quoted in the news releases announcing the bout.
But assuming Ruiz, 27, a Mexico native fighting out of Imperial, California, beats Lawrence and is uninjured the deal does figure to be concluded. The fight is slated to be a world title elimination fight that would put the winner atop the WBO rankings and make him a mandatory challenger for the Fury-Klitschko II winner -- although it would be improbable that the Furys, who are both trained by Hughie’s father Peter, would ever face each other.
The fight would be a step up in competition for both fighters, although Fury (20-0, 10 KOs), 21, who is from Manchester, is coming off a seventh-round technical decision against experienced veteran Fred Kassi on April 30. Ruiz’s biggest wins are against former titlist Sergey Liakhovich and former title challenger Ray Austin, but both were far beyond their prime.
“I am happy to be in such a big fight against a top heavyweight," Hughie Fury said. “I hope it is a fight that the fans enjoy. Out of all of the top up-and-coming heavyweights I believe I have fought the better men in my career so far.”
Said Peter Fury, “Hughie is a true fighting man who loves his sport. He trains hard and will need to be as prepared as possible as Ruiz Jr. is easily one of the best heavyweights in the world right now. Hughie is ready to take this challenge and this once again proves we only want the best fights for him. He wants to earn his position. He doesn't want to fight cherry-picked opposition like other heavyweights.
Warren has high hopes for him.
“He’s done things the hard way -- 20 fights in three years is a phenomenal record for a heavyweight fighter,” Warren said. “We know he’s got gas and he’s been tested against some awkward opponents. The division is certainly opening up and I can see Hughie being a dominant figure for years to come. He has won all 20 of his professional fights with a debilitating skin condition so how good is he going to be now (that) he is fully fit?”
Top Rank, Ruiz’s promoter, declined to comment on Warren’s announcement, but said Ruiz would go through with Saturday’s fight.