Staying ready for any opportunity has long ago become a way of life for Luis Ortiz.

Sadly, they have been few and far between for the Cuban southpaw who—even in middle age—remains a relevant contender.

The only two losses on the record of Ortiz (32-2, 27KOs) have come in failed title bids versus then-unbeaten WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder (42-2-1, 41KOs). The Miami-based contender is always on the hunt for a big fight, though often left out of the conversation and spending much of his time chasing after the division’s more prominent figures.

“My name doesn’t get mentioned by the other top heavyweights because they are all avoiding me,” Ortiz insisted during a recent Zoom media conference call to otherwise discuss his upcoming New Year’s Day clash with former IBF titlist Charles Martin. “I don’t know why, maybe because they have their panties in a bunch.

“But I’m always ready for when any of them do call my name.”

Fortunately for Ortiz, Martin stepped up to answer the call at a time when both saw their careers go idle awaiting big fights. Their battle of heavyweight southpaws takes place January 1 atop a Fox Sports Pay-Per-View event from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. It’s a rare home game for Ortiz who—even approaching his 43rd birthday—views the fight as a next step towards his still-desired goal of becoming the first-ever heavyweight champion of Cuban descent.

“My mind and body are in tip top shape. Whoever believes that King Kong won’t be up to the challenge, they are sorely mistaken,” vows Ortiz, who has not fought since a 45-second blitzing of Alexander Flores last November in Los Angeles. “I welcome any challenger, and that includes Charles Martin.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox