By Keith Idec
LOS ANGELES – Travis Kauffman was surprised once he carefully checked the terms of the agreement for his fight against Luis Ortiz.
The veteran heavyweight noticed his contract contained an immediate rematch clause, an unusual stipulation for a 10-round, non-title fight. If Kauffman, a big underdog, upsets Ortiz on the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury undercard Saturday night at Staples Center, he’ll have to face the Cuban southpaw again in his next fight.
“It’s uncommon, especially for fighting a guy that’s not known, per se,” Kauffman told BoxingScene.com, referring to himself. “But it’s life-changing money, so I had to agree to it. My goal is to beat him, knock him out and then say, ‘F*** that rematch! I want Wilder!’ ”
Kauffman (32-2, 23 KOs, 1 NC) views the rematch clause as a sign of respect, even though Ortiz (29-1, 25 KOs, 2 NC) is regularly posted as at least a 25-1 favorite in a bout that’ll be part of Showtime Pay-Per-View’s four-fight telecast.
“Personally, I think they know how tough I am,” Kauffman said. “If you look at my fights, I’ve been up and down. But every fight I’ve been in has been a war. Every one. Even my last fight, I was completely out of shape and I just kept going. They know I’m tough and they know for this fight I would come in in shape.
“They knew I was gonna bring the heat for this fight, so they probably feel like, you know, if they lose they could rematch me to prove that it was a fluke or whatever. It did surprise me, but I understand why. I understand why. I looked in his eyes and he couldn’t look at me. I think he’s a little nervous.”
Kauffman came in at 229 pounds Friday, his lowest weight since he weighed in at 223 pounds for a fight nearly eight years ago.
Kauffman defeated Scott Alexander by majority decision in his last fight, a 10-rounder June 10 in Lancaster, California.
Los Angeles’ Alexander (14-3-2, 8 KOs) was a late replacement for aged southpaw Antonio Tarver. Kauffman suffered a first-round knockdown, but also dropped Alexander in the first round and won on two of three scorecards (96-94, 96-94, 95-95).
The 39-year-old Ortiz demolished Romania’s Razvan Cojanu (16-4, 9 KOs) in his last fight, a second-round knockout July 28 at Staples Center. Kauffman still feels the lingering effects from Ortiz’s 10th-round knockout loss to Wilder on March 3 will be a factor in their fight.
“You’re f***ing right I feel there’s damage,” Kauffman said. “I think there’s the fear of getting hit again, getting hurt, the same thing happening. But honestly, I hope he doesn’t fight cautiously. I hope he’s the best Luis Ortiz that people can see. Because if I go out there and beat a guy who does nothing, it’s, ‘Oh, he beat an old guy, a guy who didn’t do sh*t.’ I want Luis to look sharp and I have to make sure I look sharper.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.