By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Luis Ortiz has never seen Derric Rossy fight.
The former interim WBA heavyweight champion doesn’t need to see footage of Rossy’s fights to respect him more than most heavyweights, though. When Rossy accepted their April 22 fight without hesitation earlier this week, Ortiz realized the veteran heavyweight is different from most potential opponents within their division.
“All I can say is he has more cojones than any other fighter right now, more balls,” Ortiz said through a translator following a press conference Thursday in Manhattan.
Ortiz (27-0, 23 KOs, 2 NC) expected to have difficulty finding an opponent on basically three weeks’ notice after the Cuban heavyweight contender signed with influential manager Al Haymon this week. The 36-year-old Rossy has 12 losses and is 3-7 in his past 10 fights, yet didn’t think twice before accepting a fight with a powerful southpaw who hasn’t been beaten as a pro.
“Like everyone says, you’ve gotta beat the best to be the best,” Rossy said. “He’s the best and no one wants to face him. I’m willing to face him. I’m willing to step in there. I think you’re gonna see a good fight. You’re gonna see two well-conditioned, highly-trained athletes go for broke.”
The former Boston College football player is a huge underdog against Ortiz, but the Medford, New York, native gave former WBC heavyweight champion Bermane Stiverne a lot of trouble three fights ago. Rossy (31-12, 15 KOs) dropped Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 KOs) in the first round of that November 2015 fight, and although he lost a unanimous decision in their 10-rounder, that heavyweight battle was very competitive.
The 6-feet-3, 230-pound Rossy figures to have more trouble with the 6-feet-4, 240-pound Ortiz when they meet at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“Sometimes [it’s not easy] when you’re looking to put on a fighter the caliber of ‘King Kong’ Ortiz on a few weeks’ notice,” said Lou DiBella, the promoter of the April 22 card. “I was lucky enough that I had been in conversations with Derric Rossy’s longtime promoter, Sal Musumeci, for the last month-and-a-half about Derric fighting on this type of time frame. So I know that Derric Rossy is ready, in the gym and prepared, and that he’s gonna give a test to ‘King Kong’ Ortiz.
“Derric’s under no illusions. He’s not predicted to win, but he’s never predicted to win. I saw a fight less than a year ago against Bermane Stiverne – I watched the fight and I watched the fight again. And every time I watch it, I see Derric Rossy won. But he didn’t get the decision. He’s the best 31-12 fighter in the heavyweight division. Six of those losses don’t belong there – or more, because this guy’s a real professional. And he deserves this opportunity.”
The Ortiz-Rossy fight will be part of Showtime’s coverage of the April 22 card, either on SHO Extreme or as part of a “Showtime Championship Boxing” tripleheader. However that evolves, the main event will be a 12-rounder between a pair of former welterweight champions – Shawn Porter (26-2-1, 16 KOs), of Akron, Ohio, and Andre Berto (31-4, 24 KOs), of Winter Haven, Florida.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.