World Boxing Council heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder is scheduled to defend his title against Luis Ortiz. Again.
Wilder, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist from Tuscaloosa, will meet Ortiz on March 3 in Brooklyn, New York, at Barclays Center approximately four months after he originally slated to square off against the Cuban-born, Miami-based contender. The first fight was scrapped when Ortiz failed a mandatory drug test, and Wilder met Bermane Stiverne instead. Wilder retained his title in a brutal first-round technical knockout of Stiverne.
Given Wilder’s displeasure with multiple opponents having tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs over the past year-and-a-half, it’s a bit of a gamble to schedule Ortiz again. But Wilder’s management feels confident the fight will come off as scheduled.
“I think the second time will be the charm,” Wilder’s manager and trainer Jay Deas said. “He tested positive the first time for performance-enhancing drugs. I would have to think that Ortiz would be maybe the dumbest person alive to, knowing the spotlight is on him the way it is, do anything illegal.”
Ortiz and his management said the failed drug test stemmed from a blood pressure medication he took that was on the banned substance list. He was fined by the WBC and subsequently reinstated. He is ranked No. 3 by the sanctioning body.
It is Wilder’s third heavyweight defense in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center. He defeated Artur Szpilka in January 2016 and Stiverne last November. Both were knockouts of the year.
Ortiz (28-0 with 24 knockouts) is widely regarded as Wilder’s top opponent to date. The southpaw is one of the biggest punchers in the sport. That title also applies to Wilder, who has 38 knockouts in his 39 career fights.
“There’s no doubt. He’s undefeated as a pro, almost all by knockout,” Deas said. “I’m not sure between the two what the total is, but it’s got to be something like 65, 66. So if you combine the two of them, it’s a great fight.
“Ortiz is probably the best combination of precision and power combined. He really can pinpoint his shots well. You can’t lose focus for a second with a guy like Ortiz.”
Between Wilder and Ortiz, they’ve combined to knockout 62 opponents.
DiBella Entertainment, which has promoted Wilder’s fights for the last two years, is handling the promotion. Tickets go on sale Tuesday, Jan. 16, beginning at $50, and are available on ticketmaster.com.
Reach Aaron Suttles at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.