World Boxing Council heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs) is looking to have two major fights in 2018.
As BoxingScene.com first reported, Wilder is lining up Cuban puncher Luis Ortiz for a showdown on March 3rd at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
They were scheduled to fight each other in November, but the fight was ruled out after Ortiz failed a pre-fight drug test. He was replaced by Bermane Stiverne, who Wilder blasted out cold in one round.
The World Boxing Council has since cleared Ortiz - which allows him to fight Wilder for the title. The sanctioning body found that Ortiz flunked his test due to a prescribed medication for high blood pressure.
Because this was the second time Ortiz failed a drug test, Wilder and his team will keep a very close eye on him in the weeks leading up the fight.
“I think the odds are pretty good (that this fight occurs),” said Jay Deas, Wilder's co-manager and trainer, to the Tuscaloosa News.
“He did test positive. That’s the second time he’s done that. They’ve really kind of given him a life line. The WBC has given him every chance to succeed. What happened is, he was hit with a really hefty fine and now he has to go under really stringent testing. He has to be clean all the way through. I think they have let him know, one more strike and you’re done. He knows it, and he would have to be an absolute idiot to test positive or take anything, even an aspirin or an multi-vitamin.”
Wilder's main target is WBA, IBO, IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua - who is currently in talks to face WBO champion Joseph Parker in a unification being targeted for late March, early April in the UK.
“Now it looks like what could be happening is...it could be the top four heavyweights in the world fighting each other and the two winners fighting for all the belts. That would be Joshua versus Joseph Parker and Deontay against Luis Ortiz, and then the two winners would meet. I think they’re trying to put Joshua and Parker at the end of March, so we’re trying our best to get in before that," Deas said.