By Keith Idec
Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz apparently meant what they said when they went face-to-face earlier this month.
BoxingScene.com has learned that representatives for Wilder and Ortiz are negotiating for them to fight March 3 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. That deal isn’t finalized, but Wilder wants to fight Ortiz next, even after their November 4 bout was canceled due to Ortiz’s failure to adhere to the WBC’s “Clean Boxing Program.”
Wilder went to Ortiz’s last fight to challenge Ortiz in person. They talked trash to each other in the ring after Ortiz (28-0, 24 KOs, 2 NC) knocked out journeyman Daniel Martz (16-6-1, 13 KOs) in the second round December 8 in Hialeah, Florida.
Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs) told BoxingScene.com last month that would agree to fight Ortiz again, despite how angry and frustrated he was when their fight was canceled late in September, just a week after the official press conference to announce it in New York. Wilder warned Ortiz during that press conference to not “f*ck up” their fight by failing a test for a performance-enhancing drug.
Cuba’s Ortiz tested positive for two diuretics he and his team claim came from prescribed medication for high blood pressure. His failure to disclose that he was taking that medication before he was tested was a violation of the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association’s rules.
VADA performs PED tests for the WBC, which refused to sanction Wilder-Ortiz as a fight for its heavyweight championship. The 32-year-old Wilder, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, instead made a mandatory defense of his title against former champion Bermane Stiverne (25-3-1, 21 KOs), who was knocked out in the first round of their rematch November 4 at Barclays Center.
The WBC has since ruled that independent physical examinations determined Ortiz requires medication for high blood pressure and kept the 38-year-old contender in its rankings. Ortiz, who is ranked No. 3 by the WBC, previously tested positive for an anabolic steroid following his first-round knockout of Lateef Kayode in September 2014.
Failing that test cost Ortiz the WBA interim title he won by beating Kayode.
The WBA suspended him for a year and removed him from its rankings once Ortiz failed another test prior to his ill-fated fight with Wilder. Ortiz was the mandatory challenger for WBA heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua before that suspension.
More than anything, Wilder wants to battle Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs), who owns the IBO, IBF and WBA championships, in a heavyweight title unification fight. That’s not an option for Wilder’s next fight, though, because the unbeaten British star appears headed for a unification fight against New Zealand’s Joseph Parker (24-0, 18 KOs), the WBO champion.
If, as expected, Wilder-Ortiz is finalized for March 3, there would be competing boxing shows that night in New York.
Another card that’ll feature WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev will take place in The Theater at Madison Square Garden on March 3. HBO is expected to televise two light heavyweight title fights from The Theater – Kovalev (31-2-1, 27 KOs) against fellow Russian Igor Mikhalkin (21-1, 9 KOs) and Kyrgyzstan’s Dmitry Bivol (12-0, 10 KOs), the WBA champion, against Cuba’s Sullivan Barrera (21-1, 14 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.