SAN DIEGO, November 12, 2016 – The heavyweight division was thrown into disarray over a month ago when lineal champion Tyson Fury was stripped of his titles for failing to defend them, a situation due to Fury’s apparent mental health issues and drug abuse. Now the rest of the serious contenders are part of a shuffle worth of Muhammad Ali.
One of them can take a major step forward Saturday with a big win in Monte Carlo.
Cuban exile Luis “King Kong” Ortiz (25-0, 22 KOs) will fight his first bout as a professional in Europe against American Malik Scott (38-2-1, 13 KOs) of Philadelphia. HBO Boxing will air the fight for American audiences at 4 p.m. ET (tape delayed to the West Coast, with a replay at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT).
Ortiz made the boxing world sit up and take notice with several impressive performances in 2015 including a knockout of American Bryant Jennings, and a dominant ninth round knockout of American Tony Thompson. Ortiz was headed for a fight on the undercard of the Canelo Alvarez vs. Liam Smith card in September, but sat out due to a dispute over the purse.
Ortiz and his manager decided to buy out his contract with Golden Boy Promotions, and Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing in Great Britain swooped in to sign him. Hearn, who also has rising British heavyweight sensation Anthony Joshua in his stable, knows talent when he sees it – and a possible foe for Joshua in a bout Hearn would control 100 percent.
The man Fury defeated, longtime titleholder Wladimir Klitschko, turned down a fight with Joshua, disappointing fans who hoped to see the wily veteran and the rising star in the ring. Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, found a substitute opponent in American journeyman Eric Molina for the December 10 date in London.
On the same night, undefeated New Zealand heavyweight Joseph Parker scared up a fight with unbeaten Mexican-American heavyweight Eric Molina in Auckland, New Zealand.
The other man in the mix, WBC champion Deontay Wilder of the U.S. is currently sidelined while a hand injury suffered in his last fight heals.
And who knows what the future holds for Fury? Despite his issues, he’s only 28 years old and still a fighter of great interest and intrigue for fans.
So Ortiz finds himself in Monaco about to headline a Matchroom Boxing card called “Boxing Bonanza” at the Salle des Etoiles in Monte Carlo.
Ortiz, nicknamed “The Real King Kong,” is a power puncher with a capital P, as fearsome as his fictional namesake. He is 33 years old and anxious to get his shot at fame and fortune. He would like a statement win with a knockout that would leave fans in Monte Carlo as breathless as a big loss at the casino.
“I want to fight the very best and I want to be the heavyweight champion of the world,” said Ortiz. “I’m willing to fight anyone, any champion, any place, any time. I’m ready for anyone: Joshua, Wilder, Klitschko. I know I can beat all of them.
“I feel I have been at my peak for many years now. I have simply been late arriving on the U.S. heavyweight boxing scene … Now, it is a way to give my family a better future, and I tell you, no one will stand in my way of accomplishing this. In my eyes, I am the heavyweight champion of the world and if anyone, any other champion, is willing to challenge me, to face me, I can and will prove it.”
Scott will do his best to thwart Ortiz, and while his chances seem less than becoming President of the United States, he has solid experience and decent if not threatening power. Scott has an advantage in speed and movement over Ortiz, who isn’t the most nimble boxer. When you have knockout power you don’t need to be light on your feet.
Scott’s last win was over the same man Ortiz defeated earlier this year, Tony Thompson. Scott showed determination by surviving a knockdown to win. “People said that Thompson would beat me, I gave him a clinic,” said Scott. “Ortiz is dangerous, but a punch at heavyweight can change everything. He doesn’t know what it’s like to sit on the shelf and wait for a fight, get messed around by opponents. I am just as hungry as he is.”
Scott’s previous performances weren’t too inspiring. Deontay Wilder took him out in less than two minutes in 2014. At 36 years old, Scott should have a sense of urgency. As improbable as it seems, we’ve seen a lot of improbables recently and a solid win over the dangerous Ortiz would get Scott back in the middle of the mix.
Assuming Ortiz wins, Anthony Joshua wins, and Joseph Parker wins, add Wilder and you have one hell of a virtual tournament to get the chance to face Klitschko to determine who stands atop the division in 2017.
“I think Fury was able to shake up the heavyweight division and because of him, the division is now one of the most exciting divisions to watch,” said Ortiz. “I just want to get the opportunity to face him, or Wilder, to prove I am a champion as well.”
Also on the card although not being televised in the United States, WBA World Bantamweight champion Jamie McDonnell defends his title against Liberio Solis of Venezuela, who gave Shinsuke Yamanaka a serious challenge in Japan in March, with both men hitting the canvas before Yamanaka won the decision.
Stephen Smith of Liverpool will face WBA super featherweight champion Jason Sosa of Puerto Rico. It will be Sosa’s first defense since winning the title from Javier Fortuna in Beijing in June.
Middleweight Martin Murray hopes to get revenge for his loss to Arthur Abraham against late replacement Nuhu Lawal of Germany for Lawal’s WBO International super middleweight belt. Murray lost by split-decision to the German in November. Lawal is undefeated in 23 fights with 13 knockouts.
HBO Boxing presents Ortiz vs. Scott, Saturday, November 12, at 4 p.m. ET on HBO East (tape delayed to the West Coast).
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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