By Keith Idec
Multiple sources have informed BoxingScene.com that Deontay Wilder’s next WBC heavyweight title defense will come against Luis Ortiz.
Negotiations are nearly finalized for Wilder to oppose Ortiz on November 4 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. It is possible that the fight will take place October 14 at Barclays Center, but it is more likely to be scheduled for November 4.
Barclays Center has been reserved for those two dates by promoter Lou DiBella, whose company, DiBella Entertainment, has promoted Wilder’s recent fights on behalf of Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions.
Wilder (38-0, 37 KOs) has a mandatory defense due against Bermane Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 KOs), from whom Wilder won the WBC title in January 2015. Though the top-rated Stiverne is the only opponent Wilder hasn’t knocked out since he turned pro in November 2008, Wilder won their first fight convincingly and network executives haven’t expressed much interest in televising a rematch of the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, native’s 12-round, unanimous-decision win in Las Vegas.
Wilder-Ortiz likely will be broadcast by Showtime.
Haymon and Don King, Stiverne’s promoter, have been negotiating a step-aside agreement that would pay the Haitian-born, Quebec-based Stiverne a fee for allowing Wilder to defend his title against Ortiz, who’s ranked No. 3 by the WBC.
The 38-year-old Ortiz (27-0, 23 KOs, 2 NC) has been one of various heavyweight contenders calling out Wilder since Wilder stopped late replacement Gerald Washington (18-1-1, 12 KOs) in the fifth round of their February 25 fight in Birmingham, Alabama. The Cuban contender would, at least on paper, represent the toughest test of Wilder’s title reign, during which the polarizing knockout artist has been criticized by fans and media for defeating five overmatched opponents.
Wilder, who couldn’t be reached for comment, alluded to a surprising pick for his next opponent in a video he released through his Instagram account early Tuesday morning.
“Shout out to all my heavy supporters,” Wilder said, “my Day Ones, my foot soldiers, and my hitters and my haters. Well, it’s only a matter of time, baby. I know y’all been waiting patiently, at least some of y’all. The time is almost up. Who will be that victim, No. 39? See, the thing about it [is], be careful what you ask for, because sometimes you might get it. Announcement soon.”
Wilder, 31, has been adamant about not facing fighters who’ve been linked to performance-enhancing drugs.
His May 2016 fight in Moscow against Russia’s Alexander Povetkin was canceled due to Povetkin’s positive PED test. Eight months later, Poland’s Andrzej Wawrzyk, the opponent Washington replaced late in January, tested positive for a PED.
The 6-feet-4, 240-pound Ortiz was stripped of the WBA’s interim heavyweight title in February 2015 because the powerful southpaw tested positive for an anabolic steroid during a test administered prior to his first-round knockout of Lateef Kayode in September 2014.
The 6-feet-7, 225-pound Wilder had said he wouldn’t fight Ortiz because of his previous PED use, but apparently changed his mind. Ortiz, who signed a managerial agreement with Haymon three months ago, must participate in the WBC’s Clean Boxing Program in order to receive a shot at its heavyweight title.
According to information released by the WBC on Monday night, Ortiz has not been tested by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) thus far in 2017. Wilder is enrolled in the program and has tested negative for PEDs.
Stiverne has tested negative for PEDs in 2017, yet also missed a test, according to the WBC’s list.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.