By Jake Donovan
If you can’t beat Wladimir Klitschko… then sanctioning bodies will just grind out more ridiculous titles to be claimed by willing participants.
So brings us to Thursday night’s clash between Luis Ortiz and Lateef Kayode. A matchup of unbeaten heavyweights should be good enough, but a third version of WBA’s heavyweight title means that the winner will walk away claiming championship status.
Regardless, the matchup itself is a necessary next step for both fighters, as they headline on Fox Sports 1 live from Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ortiz (21-0-1, 18KOs) looks the part, but has to yet to be offered a viable test against the type of heavyweights that can either confirm potential or expose any flaws. The Miami-based Cuban appears on Fox Sports 1 for his third straight fight, having scored knockout wins over Alex Gonzalez and Monte Barrett in his most recent ring appearances.
Kayode (20-0, 16KOs) was a threat during his stay as an unbeaten cruiserweight contender. Some chinks in the armor surfaced as he struggled to a 12-round draw versus aged former light heavyweight champ Antonio Tarver in June ’12. The official verdict was changed to a No-Decision after Tarver tested positive for a banned substance in his post-fight urinalysis.
Still, the fight itself—or his absurd post-fight rant against Showtime—didn’t cast Kayode in a favorable light. The Freddie Roach-trained Nigerian boxer has fought just twice since then, both coming at heavyweight and against pedestrian opposition.
Read on to see how the staff at BoxingScene.com believes the heavyweight action goes down tonight in Las Vegas.
BOXINGSCENE.COM STAFF PREDICTIONS: LUIS ORTIZ vs. LATEEF KAYODE
Ryan Burton (Ortiz UD): “I like Ortiz to win convincingly in what is easily the biggest fight in both men's career. Ortiz is a natural heavyweight and the better boxer and may end up stopping the former cruiserweight late.”
Jake Donovan (Ortiz TKO10): “I’m still not entirely sure what to make of Ortiz. That said, he should have more than enough to handle Kayode, who quite honestly was overrated as a cruiserweight and more so as a heavyweight. Having Freddie Roach in your corner only goes so far, a painful lesson Ortiz will dish out en route to a one-sided stoppage win.”
Cliff Rold (Ortiz Dec.): “The belt at stake is a joke but Ortiz is a genuine Heavyweight wild card. He should win an easy decision here.”
Alexey Sukachev (Ortiz UD): “I have no doubt about who will come as a winner in this fight - the Cuban veteran is much more skillful, much bigger and is possessed with a greater punching power. The only Q mark for me in this encounter is a stoppage. Kayode doesn't have a punch to trouble Ortiz as was proven by his fights versus cruiserweights Iannuzzi, Cora Jr. and Tarver. He is mean and aggressive though, which makes for a fan-friendly scrap against a better-schooled but not that proven opponent. On the other hand, Ortiz power is justified in this weight class. I assume it'll be a rumble, and Kayode will take a major beating, and maybe even issued a knockdown but his pride and wilderness will carry him on to a wide loss. 117-110 or 118-109 - those scores are expected for me."
Anson Wainwright (Ortiz KO8): “In over two years since fighting Antonio Tarver, Kayode has beaten won both of his fights up at heavyweight against journeyman. He now steps up to face a career heavyweight with an impressive amateur pedigree to boot. I see Ortiz’ greater size and experience being too much for the strong but raw Kayode. Ortiz softens up the Nigerian fighter before forcing the stoppage in around eight.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox