By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Luis Ortiz was expected Saturday night to make it to the ring for his shot at WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.
That wasn’t quite a certainty as late as Friday night.
BoxingScene.com has learned that the New York State Athletic Commission had concerns about Ortiz’s high blood pressure heading into their 12-round fight. The 6-feet-4 Ortiz weighed in at 241¼ pounds Friday afternoon at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
But it wasn’t until Saturday, according to sources, that Ortiz was completely cleared to challenge Wilder for his championship at Barclays Center.
Former IBF heavyweight champion Charles Martin – a southpaw, like Ortiz – arrived in New York late Friday night and was prepared to step in for Ortiz (28-0, 24 KOs, 2 NC) in the event that the NYSAC wouldn’t allow the 38-year-old Cuban contender to face Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs).
Martin (25-1-1, 23 KOs) was supposed to fight on the Wilder-Ortiz undercard – essentially on standby in case Ortiz couldn’t fight – but his opponent fell out earlier this week. Martin sat ringside for the fights Saturday night at Barclays Center.
Ortiz takes medication to control his blood pressure, an issue that was at the root of the November 4 bout between Wilder and Ortiz getting canceled.
Ortiz, who tested positive for two banned diuretics, failed to disclose that he takes that medication on a form he had to fill out for the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association as part of his participation in the WBC’s “Clean Boxing Program.”
The WBC wouldn’t allow Ortiz to challenge Wilder following the testing issue late in September.
Former WBC champ Bermane Stiverne, who was Wilder’s mandatory challenger, replaced Ortiz for that November 4 title defense. Wilder floored Stiverne three times on his way to knocking him out in the first round.
The WBC kept Ortiz in its ratings because the Mexico City-based sanctioning organization concluded after an investigation that Ortiz’s positive test stemmed from the required blood pressure medication he failed to disclose he was taking on VADA’s pre-test form.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.