The four-fight lineup for PBC’s Sept. 4 Andy Ruiz Jr vs Luis Ortiz pay-per-view has been revealed, and the big news is that Abner Mares will be coming back and fighting for the first time since 2018.
The main support slot pits lightweight contender Isaac Cruz against Eduardo Ramirez, while Mares returns to action against Miguel Flores, and Jose Valenzuela opens the broadcast against Jezreel Corrales.
I feel like they could have just waited an extra 24 hours and announced the whole card in one go instead of cobbling together two separate press releases, but maybe I just don’t have a marketing mindset.
Cruz (23-2-1, 16 KO) was last seen taking Yuriorkis Gamboa behind the woodshed in April, and while Ramirez (27-2-3, 12 KO) isn’t anywhere near that sort of dangerous mismatch, he’s still well below the level of opponent we expected Cruz to face after “Pitbull” nearly toppled Gervonta Davis.
“Zurdito” was a featherweight mainstay until two fights ago, and his two appearances at 130 have seen him cruise past Miguel Marriaga and struggle with the very limited Luis Melendez.
He’ll still have two inches of height and seven inches of reach on Cruz, though. Absolute fire hydrant of a man, that Cruz.
As far as ill-advised comebacks go, Mares’ (31-3-1, 15 KO) is certainly up there. He’s been trying to get back in action since about 2019 despite suffering the second detached retina of his career ahead of a planned fight against Gervonta Davis, which is as clear a sign as any that you shouldn’t get punched in the face anymore.
Flores (25-4, 12 KO) more or less flamed out after losing his unbeaten record to Dat Nguyen in 2017, but did unsuccessfully challenge Leo Santa Cruz for a vacant 130 lb belt in one of the WBA’s more wretched title matchups of late.
Valenzuela (12-0, 8 KO) vs Corrales (26-4, 10 KO) is a decent enough matchup, at least. The red-hot “Rayo” has ended seven of his last eight fights inside of four rounds, including an 85-second hatchet job on Francisco Vargas last April, while the still-younger-than-I-thought Corrales is 3-0 at 135 after a rapid rise and fall at 130.