By Keith Idec
LOS ANGELES – It took longer than Luis Ortiz would’ve preferred, but he made Travis Kauffman pay Saturday night for the trash Kauffman talked prior to their fight.
The Cuban heavyweight contender stopped a standing Kauffman in the 10th and final round at Staples Center. Miami’s Ortiz (30-1, 26 KOs, 2 NC) dropped Kauffman once apiece in the sixth, eighth and 10th rounds.
The courageous Kauffman got up each time, but referee Thomas Taylor eventually stepped in to stop their bout on Showtime Pay-Per-View’s Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury undercard. Taylor halted the action at 1:58 of the 10th round because Ortiz was pummeling Kauffman with one unanswered power shot after another.
The 39-year-old Ortiz, who was commonly listed as at least a 25-1 favorite, scored his second straight knockout since Wilder knocked him out March 3 in Brooklyn. The 32-year-old Kauffman, of Reading, Pennsylvania, lost by knockout for the second time in his career (32-3, 23 KOs, 1 NC).
Ortiz dropped Kauffman for the third time when he landed an overhand left that sent Kauffman to the canvas 43 seconds into the 10th round.
For the second time in their fight, Ortiz hit Kauffman with a low blow that forced Taylor to give Kauffman time to recover just before the midway point of the ninth round.
Ortiz knocked down Kauffman for the second time in the bout by landing an overhand left to Kauffman’s jaw about 20 seconds into the eighth round. Kauffman got to one knee, gathered himself, beat Taylor’s count for the second time in their fight and for the second time in three rounds made it to the bell following an early knockdown.
Following a fifth round that lacked action, Ortiz clocked Kauffman with an overhand left that knocked Kauffman down and left him on his side with about 1:35 to go in the sixth round. Ortiz jumped up on the ropes and pounded his chest, but Kauffman got up and completed the round.
Kauffman clowned around early in the fourth round, which enraged Ortiz, who implored him to stand and fight. Ortiz spent much of the remainder of that round chasing a reluctant Kauffman around the ring.
Ortiz hit Kauffman with a low left hand that caused Taylor to call for a brief break in the action with 1:46 to go in the third round. Soon after the action resumed, Ortiz caught Kauffman with a left-right combination up top that got Kauffman’s attention.
After switching to a southpaw stance, Kauffman connected with a straight left hand to Ortiz’s chin about 1:25 into the second round. Ortiz tapped his own chin after absorbing that shot and pressed forward.
Ortiz caught Kauffman with a short right hook about a minute into the fight, but Kauffman took it well. Kauffman’s caution during the first round mostly made it tough for Ortiz to catch him with clean shots.
Ortiz demolished Romania’s Razvan Cojanu (16-4, 9 KOs) in his last fight, a second-round knockout July 28 at Staples Center. That marked Ortiz’s comeback from his lone loss – a 10th-round, technical-knockout loss to Wilder nearly nine months ago at Barclays Center.
Kauffman beat 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) replaced aged southpaw Antonio Tarver on less than two weeks’ notice for that fight. Kauffman suffered a first-round knockdown, but floored Alexander in the first round, too, and out-pointed him on two of three scorecards (96-94, 96-94, 95-95).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.