Manager: Due To Injury, Luis Ortiz Was Unable To Fight Hrgovic By April

As BoxingScene.com previously reported, a hand injury has prevented heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz from accepted a potential fight against Filip Hrgovic, which would have been an IBF final eliminator for a mandatory crack at Oleksandr Usyk.

Ortiz, 42-years-old, injured his left hand in last Saturday’s fight at the Seminole Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida, when he overcame two knockdowns to score a knockout of former world champion Charles Martin in the sixth round.

On Monday, the IBF gave Ortiz only a three day deadline to agree to take part in a fight with Hrgovic.

According to Ortiz’s team, there simply wasn’t enough time for Ortiz to be in top form for such a contest.

Hrgovic and his team were looking for the fight to take place on a date in March or April.

“Basically, Luis had a minimal fracture that he should being able to heal without issues, but with something like that he does not want to take any risk,” said Ortiz’s manager, Jay Jiménez, to George Ebro.

“He is being evaluated, but he cannot fight as early as April, because he would not be in [the best physical condition]. We are not against fighting against Hrgovic, or against anyone, but let it happen with the best conditions for Luis.”

Ortiz would like to secure a fight with his Premier Boxing Champions stablemate, former unified champion Andy Ruiz. Ortiz called for a fight with Ruiz last year, but it never came off.

“I’m not afraid of anyone and I’m ready to fight whoever it is,” Ortiz repeated on several occasions, after his victory over Martin.

“I would like Andy Ruiz to accept my challenge, but if not, I will be ready for whoever comes, because nobody wants to fight with a man they call ‘old.'”

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Luis Ortiz Declines Invitation For IBF Eliminator, Hrgovic Awaits Next Ordered Opponent

Filip Hrgovic has once again reached familiar ground.

Efforts to stage a final title eliminator for the unbeaten Croatian will proceed to the next available ranked contender to determine the mandatory challenger for the IBF heavyweight title. As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, an invitation was submitted by the sanctioning body to Hrgovic and Luis Ortiz, the latter who declined the offer according to Hrgrovic’s team.

“It appears that Luis Ortiz just (withdrew),” Nisse Sauerland, Hrgovic’s co-promoter informed BoxingScene.com on Tuesday.

Messages for Ortiz and his team went unreturned as this goes to publish.

The invitation to enter talks for the final eliminator was submitted by the IBF on Monday, just two days after Miami’s Ortiz (33-2, 28KOs) earned a sixth-round stoppage of former titlist Charles Martin. The Cuban southpaw recovered from two knockdowns to score two of his own, the latter prompting a stoppage in the sixth round of their Fox Sports Pay-Per-View main event, which was billed as an IBF eliminator.

The sanctioning came with the understanding that the winner would next have to face Hrgovic (14-0, 12KOs). Ortiz and his team have since reversed course, likely with other plans already in place. There is speculation that the two-time title challenger—who turns 43 in March—will be steered towards a showdown with former unified heavyweight titlist Andy Ruiz Jr. (34-2, 22KOs) later this year, though such a matchup remains limited for the moment to loose talk.

Meanwhile, Hrgrovic is in a similar place as was the case a year ago—in need of a dance partner to move within one win of challenging for his first major title.

The next highest ranked contender after Ortiz and Hrgovic is Joseph Parker (30-2, 21KOs), a former WBO titlist from New Zealand who is riding a six-fight win streak. The last five have come since signing his original promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing in 2019. Matchroom also serves as co-promoter for Hrgovic, along with Wasserman Boxing who absorbed Sauerland Event and its fighters last March.

Both boxers are coming off wins in separate bouts last December.

Hrgovic—a 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist for Croatia who now trains in Miami—earned a third-round knockout of unbeaten but obscure heavyweight Emir Ahmatovic as part of a December 5 DAZN show from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The bout marked his second consecutive third-round knockout over an undefeated heavyweight, having done the same to Marko Radonjic last September 10 in Klagenfurt, Australia.

Parker scored a repeat win over Derek Chisora, looking far more impressive in their December 18 rematch than was the case when he barely edged the veteran gatekeeper last May. Both bouts took place at the AO Arena in Manchester, England.

If Parker accepts the forthcoming invitation from the IBF, a fifteen-day negotiation period will be granted between the New Zealand heavyweight and Hrgovic. Neither party can enter an agreement for another bout once the eliminator is formally ordered, per IBF rule 9.a.2 (Purse Bids—No Intervening Bouts).

Should Parker decline, the IBF is required to continue down the line until finding an available challenger. The heavyweight contenders ranked after Parker are a trio of unbeaten contenders: France’s Tony Yoka (11-0, 9KOs), the 2016 Olympic Gold medalist; England’s Joe Joyce (13-0, 12KOs), who lost to Yoka in the 2016 Olympic finals in taking home a silver medal; and Germany’s Agit Kabayel (21-0, 13KOs). 

The winner of the eventual IBF final eliminator will become the sanctioning body’s mandatory challenger to Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13KOs), who also holds the WBA “Super”/WBO/IBO belts. Ukraine’s Usyk obtained the slew of belts in a September 25 win over England’s Anthony Joshua (24-2, 22KOs), the now former two-time unified heavyweight titlist who ended Parker’s 15-month WBO title reign in their March 2018 unification bout in Cardiff, Wales.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox

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Luis Ortiz Injured,Declines Invitation For IBF Eliminator; Hrgovic Awaits Next Ordered Opponent

Filip Hrgovic has once again reached familiar ground.

Efforts to stage a final title eliminator for the unbeaten Croatian will proceed to the next available ranked contender to determine the mandatory challenger for the IBF heavyweight title. As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, an invitation was submitted by the sanctioning body to Hrgovic and Luis Ortiz, the latter who declined the offer according to Hrgrovic’s team.

“It appears that Luis Ortiz just (withdrew),” Nisse Sauerland, Hrgovic’s co-promoter informed BoxingScene.com on Tuesday.

A source familiar with the situation has informed BoxingScene.com that an injury is the cause for Ortiz not being available for this fight. Ortiz suffered a fractured hand in his win over Martin, with the time required to heal outside of the scope to negotiate terms for an eliminator with Hrgovic.

The invitation to enter talks for the final eliminator was submitted by the IBF on Monday, just two days after Miami’s Ortiz (33-2, 28KOs) earned a sixth-round stoppage of former titlist Charles Martin. The Cuban southpaw recovered from two knockdowns to score two of his own, the latter prompting a stoppage in the sixth round of their Fox Sports Pay-Per-View main event, which was billed as an IBF eliminator.

The sanctioning came with the understanding that the winner would next have to face Hrgovic (14-0, 12KOs). Ortiz and his team have since reversed course, likely with other plans already in place. There is speculation that the two-time title challenger—who turns 43 in March—will be steered towards a showdown with former unified heavyweight titlist Andy Ruiz Jr. (34-2, 22KOs) later this year, though such a matchup remains limited for the moment to loose talk.

Meanwhile, Hrgrovic is in a similar place as was the case a year ago—in need of a dance partner to move within one win of challenging for his first major title.

The next highest ranked contender after Ortiz and Hrgovic is Joseph Parker (30-2, 21KOs), a former WBO titlist from New Zealand who is riding a six-fight win streak. The last five have come since signing his original promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing in 2019. Matchroom also serves as co-promoter for Hrgovic, along with Wasserman Boxing who absorbed Sauerland Event and its fighters last March.

Both boxers are coming off wins in separate bouts last December.

Hrgovic—a 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist for Croatia who now trains in Miami—earned a third-round knockout of unbeaten but obscure heavyweight Emir Ahmatovic as part of a December 5 DAZN show from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The bout marked his second consecutive third-round knockout over an undefeated heavyweight, having done the same to Marko Radonjic last September 10 in Klagenfurt, Australia.

Parker scored a repeat win over Derek Chisora, looking far more impressive in their December 18 rematch than was the case when he barely edged the veteran gatekeeper last May. Both bouts took place at the AO Arena in Manchester, England.

If Parker accepts the forthcoming invitation from the IBF, a fifteen-day negotiation period will be granted between the New Zealand heavyweight and Hrgovic. Neither party can enter an agreement for another bout once the eliminator is formally ordered, per IBF rule 9.a.2 (Purse Bids—No Intervening Bouts).

Should Parker decline, the IBF is required to continue down the line until finding an available challenger. The heavyweight contenders ranked after Parker are a trio of unbeaten contenders: France’s Tony Yoka (11-0, 9KOs), the 2016 Olympic Gold medalist; England’s Joe Joyce (13-0, 12KOs), who lost to Yoka in the 2016 Olympic finals in taking home a silver medal; and Germany’s Agit Kabayel (21-0, 13KOs). 

The winner of the eventual IBF final eliminator will become the sanctioning body’s mandatory challenger to Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13KOs), who also holds the WBA “Super”/WBO/IBO belts. Ukraine’s Usyk obtained the slew of belts in a September 25 win over England’s Anthony Joshua (24-2, 22KOs), the now former two-time unified heavyweight titlist who ended Parker’s 15-month WBO title reign in their March 2018 unification bout in Cardiff, Wales.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox

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Luis Ortiz Injured, Declines Invitation For IBF Eliminator; Hrgovic Awaits Next Ordered Opponent

Filip Hrgovic has once again reached familiar ground.

Efforts to stage a final title eliminator for the unbeaten Croatian will proceed to the next available ranked contender to determine the mandatory challenger for the IBF heavyweight title. As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, an invitation was submitted by the sanctioning body to Hrgovic and Luis Ortiz, the latter who declined the offer according to Hrgrovic’s team.

“It appears that Luis Ortiz just (withdrew),” Nisse Sauerland, Hrgovic’s co-promoter informed BoxingScene.com on Tuesday.

A source familiar with the situation has informed BoxingScene.com that an injury is the cause for Ortiz not being available for this fight. Ortiz suffered a fractured hand in his win over Martin, with the time required to heal outside of the scope to negotiate terms for an eliminator with Hrgovic.

The invitation to enter talks for the final eliminator was submitted by the IBF on Monday, just two days after Miami’s Ortiz (33-2, 28KOs) earned a sixth-round stoppage of former titlist Charles Martin. The Cuban southpaw recovered from two knockdowns to score two of his own, the latter prompting a stoppage in the sixth round of their Fox Sports Pay-Per-View main event, which was billed as an IBF eliminator.

The sanctioning came with the understanding that the winner would next have to face Hrgovic (14-0, 12KOs). Ortiz and his team have since reversed course, likely with other plans already in place. There is speculation that the two-time title challenger—who turns 43 in March—will be steered towards a showdown with former unified heavyweight titlist Andy Ruiz Jr. (34-2, 22KOs) later this year, though such a matchup remains limited for the moment to loose talk.

Meanwhile, Hrgrovic is in a similar place as was the case a year ago—in need of a dance partner to move within one win of challenging for his first major title.

The next highest ranked contender after Ortiz and Hrgovic is Joseph Parker (30-2, 21KOs), a former WBO titlist from New Zealand who is riding a six-fight win streak. The last five have come since signing his original promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing in 2019. Matchroom also serves as co-promoter for Hrgovic, along with Wasserman Boxing who absorbed Sauerland Event and its fighters last March.

Both boxers are coming off wins in separate bouts last December.

Hrgovic—a 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist for Croatia who now trains in Miami—earned a third-round knockout of unbeaten but obscure heavyweight Emir Ahmatovic as part of a December 5 DAZN show from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The bout marked his second consecutive third-round knockout over an undefeated heavyweight, having done the same to Marko Radonjic last September 10 in Klagenfurt, Australia.

Parker scored a repeat win over Derek Chisora, looking far more impressive in their December 18 rematch than was the case when he barely edged the veteran gatekeeper last May. Both bouts took place at the AO Arena in Manchester, England.

If Parker accepts the forthcoming invitation from the IBF, a fifteen-day negotiation period will be granted between the New Zealand heavyweight and Hrgovic. Neither party can enter an agreement for another bout once the eliminator is formally ordered, per IBF rule 9.a.2 (Purse Bids—No Intervening Bouts).

Should Parker decline, the IBF is required to continue down the line until finding an available challenger. The heavyweight contenders ranked after Parker are a trio of unbeaten contenders: France’s Tony Yoka (11-0, 9KOs), the 2016 Olympic Gold medalist; England’s Joe Joyce (13-0, 12KOs), who lost to Yoka in the 2016 Olympic finals in taking home a silver medal; and Germany’s Agit Kabayel (21-0, 13KOs). 

The winner of the eventual IBF final eliminator will become the sanctioning body’s mandatory challenger to Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13KOs), who also holds the WBA “Super”/WBO/IBO belts. Ukraine’s Usyk obtained the slew of belts in a September 25 win over England’s Anthony Joshua (24-2, 22KOs), the now former two-time unified heavyweight titlist who ended Parker’s 15-month WBO title reign in their March 2018 unification bout in Cardiff, Wales.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox

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Team Hrgovic: We Hope Luis Ortiz Will Take Up The Fight

Filip Hrgovic and his team hope that from the first IBF-sanctioned heavyweight fight of 2022 comes the chance to move within one win of challenging for his first major title.

Luis Ortiz emerged victorious in dramatic fashion, rallying from two knockdowns to score two of his own in a sixth-round stoppage of former IBF heavyweight titlist Charles Martin atop the January 1 Fox Sports Pay-Per-View event from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The bout was billed as a title eliminator, though with work to do as Ortiz now replaces Martin as the number-two contender in the IBF heavyweight rankings.

Hrgovic is currently ranked number-three by the New Jersey-based sanctioning body.

On Monday, the IBF gave both boxers three days to confirm the desire to participate in a final eliminator, to determine the next IBF mandatory challenger for unified titlist Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13KOs). Just as Miami’s Ortiz (33-2, 27KOS; 2NC) has for years claimed to be the division’s boogeyman, the unbeaten Hrgovic (14-0, 12KOs) feels his pain.

“From our side, we’re happy that someone is in place to take the challenge against Filip,” Nisse Sauerland, Hrgovic’s co-promoter—along with Matchroom Boxing—told Boxingscene.com. “If it’s Ortiz, then it’s Ortiz.”  

The 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist for Croatia—who now trains in Miami—spent most of 2021 aiming to secure an opponent for a final elimination bout. One was believed to be in place, when an ordered bout between Hrgovic and top American contender Michael Hunter made its way to a purse bid hearing which was won by Matchroom. Hunter opted out, instead agreeing to a multi-bout deal with streaming platform Triller where he has spent his last two fights.

Hrgovic has since fought twice, scoring back-to-back third-round knockouts versus unbeaten but untested opponents. The 6’6” heavyweight took out Marko Radonjic after three rounds last September in Klagenfurt, Austria, an event that came as a consolation prize after several IBF-ranked contenders refused to share the ring with him.

In his most recent start, Hrgovic needed less than seven minutes to ruin the unblemished record of Emir Ahmatovic this past December at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The fight was taken with the intention of next focusing on the outcome of Ortiz-Martin, with hopes that the winner—Ortiz—will agree to a fight that will position the winner to challenge for the unified heavyweight title.

“We’ve obviously been through the rankings a couple of times. Ortiz may have been injured at the time (of the IBF’s previous order),” notes Sauerland. “We hope that Ortiz will take up the challenge and we look forward to a great heavyweight spectacle. We have nothing but respect for Luis Ortiz and believe he will make it a good fight.”

Usyk is currently awaiting a fight date for his contractually bound rematch with former two-time unified heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua (24-2, 22KOs). The rotation for mandatory title defenses could leave the IBF challenger behind the WBA, though the latter has its own complications to sort out before identifying a challenger.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox

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Ortiz, Hrgrovic Given Three Days To Accept IBF Invitation To Enter Talks For Final Eliminator

Luis Ortiz’s post-fight victory lap will end with a hard decision to make.

BoxingScene.com has confirmed that the International Boxing Federation (IBF) has sent out a letter to both Ortiz and Filip Hrgovic on Monday, giving both heavyweight contenders three days to accept an invitation to enter talks for a final title eliminator. It comes on the heels of Ortiz’s come-from-behind sixth-round stoppage of former IBF titlist Charles Martin in their semi-final eliminator this past Saturday at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

“Challenge accepted by Filip Hrgovic,” Nisse Sauerland, Hrgovic’s co-promoter exclaimed upon receipt of the correspondence from the IBF. “[Three] days and counting for Luis Ortiz to accept.”

Miami’s Ortiz (33-2, 28KOs; 2NC) entered Saturday’s Fox Sports Pay-Per-View headliner with the understanding that such a next step would be in the works. The Cuban southpaw agreed to a fight with Martin, with the winner to move within one fight of becoming the mandatory contender to the IBF heavyweight title held by unified WBA “Super”/IBF/WBO/IBO titlist Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13KOs).

Hrgovic (14-0, 12KOs)—a 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist for Croatia who also trains out of Miami—has spent much of 2021 watching numerous heavyweights in the IBF rankings bypass the opportunity to enter a title eliminator. The 6’6” contender believed to have such a fight in place when co-promoter Matchroom Boxing won a purse bid hearing to secure the rights to an ordered final elimination bout between Hrgovic and Michael Hunter II (20-1-2, 14KOs).

Those plans quickly fell apart when Hunter decided to move in a different direction.

Hrgovic has since fought twice. Both have come against unbeaten but untested competition, each ending in a third-round knockout. The most recent outcome came December 5, when Hrgovic tore through Emir Ahmatovic as part of a DAZN show from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

The hoped-for-plans by the IBF would pit arguably the division’s two most avoided contenders. Hrgovic has endured his own struggles to land relevant opposition, even with two promoters working around the clock on his behalf.

Ortiz—who turns 43 in March—has experienced much of the same really throughout his twelve-year career. The longtime top contender remains defined by his pair of competitive knockout losses to then-WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder, primarily because most of the rest of the division tends to look away when his name is mentioned.

The win over Martin was arguably the most significant of Ortiz’s career. It is certainly the best name on his resume since a December 2015 stoppage win over then-top ten contender Bryant Jennings.

The opportunity is now in place for Ortiz to accept an invitation to sit down with the division’s other boogeyman, though one that comes with a countdown clock.

Refusal by either party to enter such talks will prompt the IBF to go down the list of its current top fifteen contenders in search of the highest ranked available—and willing—heavyweight.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox

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Filip Hrgovic Warns Luis Ortiz: You Will Freeze From My Punches!

Kalle Sauerland, promoter for undefeated Olympic bronze medal winner Filip Hrgovic, cautions that Luis Ortiz will have to face his fighter in order to force a mandatory IBF title shot.

Hrgovic was ordered to take part in an IBF final eliminator, but he’s had a lot of trouble securing an opponent.

Ortiz, 42-years-old, took part in an IBF eliminator over the weekend. He stopped former IBF world champion Charles Martin is six rounds. 

The Cuban boxer was dropped twice on the contest, and found himself behind on the cards, before landing a huge shot in the sixth to have Martin out on his feet. Ortiz dropped Martin twice before the fight was waved off.

Sauerland is getting on the horn right away, with calls being made to the IBF to order a fight between Hrgovic and Ortiz.

“We’re waiting for the IBF to send out the letters and then of course we’ll be talking with Ortiz’s people,” Sauerland told Sky Sports.

“They are well known to us and we’ve worked with them before. That’s something that we’ll be doing in the next days as soon as those letters go out.

“There’s always that purse bid scenario as well, of course. I think not only will he [Hrgovic] make a statement beating Ortiz, but of course, the reward is a crack at the world title and that’s always been the mission.

“That’s something that Filip is going to absolutely take with both hands, so he’s delighted, we’re delighted, and we’re looking forward to putting on a great fight.”

Hgrovic, like Ortiz, is a big power puncher – and issued a warning to the Cuban boxer.

“Ortiz will freeze from my punches! My power will send him for a cold shower,” Hrgovic said.

The current IBF world champion is Oleksandr Usyk – who faces former beltholder Anthony Joshua in a rematch in the coming months.

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Luis Ortiz Makes a Dramatic Stand: Weekend Afterthoughts

It wasn’t a busy weekend for the sport but as the world welcomed 2022, boxing ended and then began its latest seasons with notable action at heavyweight and Jr. bantamweight. (photo by Ryan Hafey)

The big men took center stage in the US with a Fox pay-per-view headlined by former title challenger Luis Ortiz and former IBF titlist Charles Martin. While there are plenty who reasonably saw the price tag, any price tag, for the card as more than they budgeted for, fans who turned in got a fun main event. 

The 42-year old Ortiz, down in the first and fourth, made a comeback worthy of the legendary movie monster he takes his nickname from. A left hand rendered Martin senseless in the fifth and Ortiz let loose by hitting anything his fists would land on, including the back of Martin’s head while his back was turned. Martin ended up hung up in the ropes, giving him some precious time to recover. 

It wasn’t enough time.

Ortiz kept the assault on, scoring to the head, body, and cup of Martin to score a second knockdown and ultimately end the fight. It wasn’t all legal, but it was relentless from an aging fighter with no room to lose. It wasn’t quite the insanity of the undercard war between Viktor Faust and Iago Kiladze, but it was a nice bookend to that one after some forgettable action in the middle.        

Futures: For Ortiz, more importantly, he kept his hopes for one more title shot alive. Ortiz gave excellent efforts twice against Deontay Wilder and just couldn’t avoid Wilder’s power. Can he avoid Father Time? The evidence suggested otherwise on Saturday. Ortiz is still heavy handed and highly skilled, but he’s also more vulnerable with each passing round. He’d have to be considered a long odds underdog against Oleksandr Usyk or Tyson Fury right now but all he can do is keep winning and hope he endures long enough to find out. In the meantime, a showdown with PBC stablemate Andy Ruiz might be fascinating.

Ioka Goes to 9-1 on NYE

Death, taxes, and Kazuto Ioka making a New Year’s Eve appearance…Ioka is the only one that hasn’t been a pure constant but close enough over the last decade. Ioka is now 9-1 since 2011 and one can only assume he’s looking to close 2022 with a bigger affair than WBO Jr. bantamweight title defense Ryoji Fukunaga. Fukunaga gave a hell of an effort but the gap in class was too wide. This was supposed to be a unification with IBF titlist Jerwin Ancajas but Omicron travel restrictions got in the way. 

Futures: A positive shift in the COVID situation could mean revisiting the Ancajas fight in the first half of 2022. It would be Ioka’s second partial unification after winning two belts at 105 pounds early in his career. Ioka-Ancajas is a counterpoint, fresh match in contrast to the ongoing round-robin between Juan Fracisco Estrada, Roman Gonzalez, Carlos Cuadras, and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. The winner of an Ioka-Ancajas fight against one of those four, and perhaps a late career encore against one of them for Donnie Nietes, could extend the shelf life of a golden era in one of boxing’s lightest divisions.

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

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Can Luis Ortiz Still Be A Factor At Heavyweight After Stopping Charles Martin?

Every generation of heavyweight boxing has its big men whose ultimate career achievements are simply winding up on a list of best fighters to not win a heavyweight title. The 60s and 70s had a litany of them, stuck behind a handful of all-time greats who ensured the likes of Jerry Quarry, Earnie Shavers, Jimmy Young and more never held the gold. The 90s had David Tua and Ike Ibeabuchi, memorable and thrilling fighters who for very different reasons never made it to the top. (photo by Ryan Hafey)

This current generation, however you’d like to define its timeline, has Luis Ortiz. “King Kong” has been near the top of the heavyweight rankings for over seven years, only ever capturing an interim version of the WBA’s title. At various times during that span, Ortiz was considered by some to be an “uncrowned” champion of sorts, someone better than the titleholders of the day but without an opportunity to prove it. To this day, Ortiz maintains the belief that he is avoided by other top heavyweights, save for Deontay Wilder who fought and knocked him out twice in Ortiz’s two attempts at a legitimate world title. 

On Saturday night, Ortiz headlined a pay-per-view for the second time in his career and scored a sixth-round knockout victory over Charles Martin. In doing so, he both likely confirmed his standing as this generation’s best to never hold a world title, and showed that at 42-years of age, that could unfortunately be the highest peak he will reach.

Within the boxing community there is a running joke that is somewhere between humor and an actual accusation that Ortiz is in fact older than his listed 42 years, perhaps rooted in his weathered facial features. Whatever age you may think Ortiz actually is, his bout against Martin was the first time he looked that age in the ring. Before this fight, Ortiz had only been dropped by Deontay Wilder, a prodigious knockout artist, and had lost precious few rounds overall, even to Wilder. Against Martin, Ortiz found himself on the canvas twice and behind on the scorecards when he ultimately scored the knockout. 

In heavyweight boxing, knockdowns are not always cause for concern. When the sport’s biggest men connect on a clean power shot, the person on the receiving end has a good chance of going down for a few seconds. What makes the knockdowns Ortiz suffered in this bout concerning was how seemingly innocuous the shots that landed were. In round one, a scraping left hand that landed between Ortiz’s temple and the top of his head put him down. Punches that land in that area can create momentary balance issues for even the spryest of fighters, but anecdotally, they seem to create bigger problems for aging fighters. Seemingly impervious fighters can find themselves on the mat from shots high on the head as they age, as we saw with Bernard Hopkins in the latter stages of his career. In the fourth round however, Martin dropped Ortiz with a jab, a knockdown that wasn’t aided by the tangling of feet or any additional forces other than the most basic of punches. In watching the replay of the knockdown, FOX commentator Joe Goossen remarked that Ortiz rarely gets hit with jabs, let alone dropped by them.

But after five rounds of shakiness and a few scares, Ortiz looked like his old self, and not an old version of himself. Early in the sixth round, Martin threw a jab that Ortiz slipped to the inside of while simultaneously launching an overhand left that connected flush. The shot landed with such force that Martin appeared frozen in time. He staggered with a few steps towards the ropes and was staring vacantly into the crowd, standing straight up, as Ortiz continued his onslaught. The bizarre scene continued as Martin, seemingly in an attempt to hold himself up, had his glove caught between the top and second rope. As more than one person has remarked since, it was reminiscent of Andre The Giant getting caught in the ropes during a wrestling match in the 80s. 

As amusing as those comparisons may be, there was nothing funny about referee Frank Santore Jr. allowing the fight to continue after Martin was so visibly cognitively impaired, let alone allowing Martin to be hit more than once with his hand knotted between the ropes. Martin somehow continued, but was battered to the body and ultimately dropped again. As he swayed back and forth, dazed and bloodied, Santore finally waved it off. 

Here’s the positive spin: Even at 42, Ortiz was still able to take out a heavyweight highly ranked by a sanctioning body inside six rounds. For a fighter on their way up, a win over Charles Martin would be looked at as a sign that they are on their way to becoming a true contender. For plenty of visible heavyweights in today’s landscape, a win over Martin would be the best of their career.

Here’s the negative spin: One can make a reasonable argument that Martin is the best opponent Ortiz has defeated since his 2015 win over Bryan Jennings, and he did so with a few stumbles. The win over Martin has placed him into a position to potentially face Filip Hrgovic in an IBF title eliminator for a shot at Oleksandr Usyk. There have also been calls for a bout between Ortiz and former champion Andy Ruiz, a battle of two heavyweights under the same promotional umbrella looking for a win that would give them a compelling argument for another title shot. Ortiz would have you believe that these are the types he was denied during his younger years by opponents not fond of the risk-reward ratio he presented at the time.

In an alternate timeline, Ortiz’s career could have turned out much differently. It is true that for whatever reason, he has rarely found himself in the ring with his fellow true contenders of the day. Aside from his two shots at Wilder, Ortiz’s career has mostly been placeholder bouts meant to kill time until his next big opportunity. Those types of fights seem to be on the horizon for him now, past the time when he would have ideally wanted them, and past when his supporters would have liked to have seen them. There were times when one could have counted on one hand the number of active heavyweights that would have been favored over Ortiz.

Is that still the case? Can Saturday’s version of Ortiz still be a threat? As the saying would normally go, “time will tell.” But time is one opponent that hasn’t ducked Ortiz, and it might finally be getting the best of him. 

Corey Erdman is a boxing writer and commentator based in Toronto, ON, Canada. Follow him on Twitter @corey_erdman

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Luis Ortiz: They Said I Was Old, That Martin Would Beat Me – I’ll Be Here For a While!

Luis Ortiz refuses to throw in the towel. On Saturday night in Florida, King Kong defeated the dangerous Charles Martin, a former IBF world champion, by knockout in their International Boxing Federation heavyweight eliminator.

At the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Ortiz had to overcome two knockdowns before he cracked Martin with a tremendous shot in the sixth round. Ortz then battered him with heavy punches to score two knockdowns of his own for a stoppage win.

“They said I was old, that Martin was going to beat me, but you see, King Kong will be here for a while,” said Ortiz, who will soon be 43 years old, to George Ebro.

“I don’t know who I’m going to fight, but I want it to be soon. I neither want to nor can I waste time. I think I have secured myself a good fight in the future.”

To many observers, it appeared Ortiz was on his way to a loss after suffering two knockdowns and being outboxed in some rounds, but the Cuban puncher’s corner kept him claim.

“When Luis got to the corner, I calmed him down and told him everything he was doing wrong,” explained Ortiz’s coach, Germán Caicedo.

“I told him that what he wanted was going to come, but he had to box. Do not look for the win with a single punch. He had to use his jab more and move smart.”

It will be interesting to see where Ortiz goes from here. Undefeated danger man Filip Hrgovic could be waiting in the wings. The IBF had ordered a final eliminator between Hrgovic and several fighters, but none of them wanted to face him. Whether or not the sanctioning body will order a final eliminator between Ortiz and Hrgovic remains to be seen.

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