By Radio Rahim
Former two division world champion Paulie Malignaggi is not completely sold on the punching power of Cuban heavyweight Luis Ortiz (28-0, 24 KOs).
Ortiz tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in the aftermath of a first round knockout over Lateef Kayode in 2014. The Nevada State Athletic Commission would fine and suspend Ortiz for nine months.
And then last October, Ortiz tested positive for two banned substances - and as a result he was pulled from a planned fight with WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs).
The World Boxing Council investigated the matter and determined that Ortiz's prescribed medication for high blood pressure played a role in his failed test.
With the WBC removing any obstacles, the fight between Wilder and Ortiz was rescheduled for March 3 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
But Malignaggi wonders just how many of the boxer's past wins were a direct result of PED use.
"I think Ortiz comes from a really great pedigree. The Cuban amateur system, there are no Cubans who can't fight. I think it can always be a potentially fun fight whenever they're involved. They are really skilled fighters and skilled operators in the ring," Malignaggi explained to BoxingScene.com.
"One thing I got to say though.... and nobody is saying this, it's like the big gorilla in the room, the big elephant in the room.. Ortiz, would he be as effective minus the PEDs? It seems like a lot of the big wins and a lot of the strength may have come from that.
"The guy failed twice, maybe three times, and you have to start asking the question - how good is this guy if he's clean? Has he been caught every single time he did it? Odds are, if you are doping you probably doped and got away with it too. You are not getting caught every time you're doping.
"You have to wonder about this fight that we're all getting excited about. Is the fight really that good or is Deontay naturally that much better. Because we know Deontay stands for testing and a clean sport and pays for extra testing, and I think that's why his opponents keep failing. It's eye opening how dirty the sport can be.
"You don't want to downplay Ortiz too much, because he does come from that amateur system and he does have skills - but is the power bulked up? That's my question, because he does have some quality knockouts over guys like Bryant Jennings, and he's failed [drug tests] a handful of times already."