By Keith Idec
Deontay Wilder wants nothing more than to challenge Anthony Joshua for heavyweight supremacy in his next fight.
Wilder would settle for a title unification fight against Joseph Parker, the unbeaten WBO champion. Joshua doesn’t seem as interested in an immediate showdown with Wilder and almost certainly will face someone other than Wilder next, perhaps Parker.
If Joshua-Parker happens next, Wilder will likely make an optional defense of his WBC heavyweight title. Now that WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman has announced that the Mexico City-based sanctioning organization won’t suspend Luis Ortiz for his most recent performance-enhancing drug transgression, Wilder would have no problem agreeing to defend his title against Ortiz again.
Wilder told BoxingScene.com on Thursday that he wants to “punish” Ortiz for failing a PED test late in September and forcing the cancelation of their title fight scheduled for November 4 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The WBC refused to sanction a Wilder-Ortiz fight after Ortiz tested positive for two diuretics and ordered Wilder to make a mandatory defense against former champion Bermane Stiverne.
The Alabama-based knockout artist destroyed Stiverne (25-3-1, 21 KOs) by knocking him down three times on his way to a first-round knockout in their rematch. England’s Dillian Whyte (22-1, 16 KOs) has since been elevated to the No. 1 position in the WBC’s heavyweight rankings, but Wilder won’t need to satisfy another mandatory defense in his next fight.
The 38-year-old Ortiz (27-0, 23 KOs, 2 NC) is ranked No. 3 by the WBC. Ortiz and his handlers have suggested Wilder won’t attempt to fight him again, but Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs) is willing to move beyond the well-publicized frustration caused by their first ill-fated fight.
“Of course,” Wilder said. “Why not? He’s back in it. Why not? He’s gonna fight somebody. It might as well be me. I’m looking forward to seeing this man face-to-face in the ring one day. Hopefully it’ll be sooner than later.”
Wilder still doesn’t understand why Ortiz wasn’t punished by the WBC. The WBA suspended Ortiz for a year and removed the Cuban southpaw from the No. 1 spot in its heavyweight rankings for failing the aforementioned test administered by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association.
The WBA previously stripped Ortiz of its interim title once he tested positive for an anabolic steroid, nandrolone, after his first-round knockout of Lateef Kayode in September 2014. The former champion tested positive for two banned diuretics, chlorothiazide and hydrochlorothiazide, on September 22, but Ortiz’s handlers have argued that those diuretics are present in the medication he is taking to control high blood pressure.
Ortiz violated the terms of the WBC’s “Clean Boxing Program” by failing to disclose on the VADA form that he was taking medication for high blood pressure.
Wilder doesn’t believe Ortiz’s excuse and doesn’t think fighters will learn from their mistakes if they’re not punished appropriately.
“If they’re gonna let him back in there, we’re still gonna do the testing and all that stuff,” Wilder said regarding possibly facing Ortiz. “We’ll go through that process, but I still don’t understand the reason for that. I might think about not doing that. You’re basically just wasting money. If these guys are testing positive, and they ain’t doing nothing about it, and there ain’t no consequences for their actions, then why continue to pay for it, when nothing’s gonna be done?
“You’re paying hundreds of dollars for a test. For what, just to prove they was on something, and then they get reinstated anyway? This is boxing, man. This is not the first time they’re gonna surprise us with things in boxing and it’s not gonna be the last.”
Due to Ortiz’s high blood pressure, Sulaiman told ESPN Deportes on Tuesday that Ortiz must undergo numerous medical exams to prove he is physically fit to fight. If Ortiz passes those tests, Wilder could turn to Ortiz again in his pursuit of a top opponent.
Dominic Breazeale is a potential foe for Wilder as well.
A Wilder-Breazeale bout would be personal for both boxers because Breazeale filed a lawsuit against Wilder following an altercation in the lobby of Birmingham hotel February 25. But Ortiz, despite his age and PED problems, would be considered a more threatening challenger for Wilder than Breazeale (19-1, 17 KOs).
As disgusted as Wilder was by Ortiz’s PED ordeal, he still wants to prove he is the better fighter.
“Anything’s possible,” Wilder said. “If we don’t get these fights [against Joshua or Parker], he can definitely be in the discussion. We’ll see what happens.”
If the 32-year-old Wilder does sign a contract to fight Ortiz again, he’ll resist becoming as emotionally invested in their fight as he was the first time. Wilder allowed Ortiz’s blunder to eat at him when it first happened because Ortiz was his third opponent in 16 months to fail a PED test.
The first of those opponents, repeat PED offender Alexander Povetkin, cost Wilder a guaranteed purse of $4.5 million when he tested positive for meldonium the week before Wilder was to make a mandatory title defense against the Russian contender in May 2016 in Moscow.
Nine months ago, Wilder won a lawsuit he filed against Povetkin and promoter Andrey Ryabinsky, and was awarded $5 million in damages. That didn’t make it any easier for Wilder when Ortiz joined Povetkin and Poland’s Andrzej Wawrzyk as contracted opponents that were disqualified from fights against him.
“When I found out Ortiz was doping, I had put so much emotion in it, it made me have a stress breakdown,” Wilder said. “I was so mad and frustrated about the situation. I had put all my energy in it the first time, so the second time, I won’t put no energy in it. These people are gonna do what they wanna do. And if the organizations allow them to come back, so be it. The heavyweight division is very small and if these guys are coming back and people think that they’re the best, then hey, welcome back. But there’s gonna be a price to pay for that.”
Ortiz hasn’t fought in 11 months, not since he stopped England’s David Allen (12-3-1, 9 KOs) in the seventh round December 10 in Manchester, England. If he fights Wilder next, he’ll end a lengthy layoff against an opponent who has knocked out 97 percent of his opponents.
“I am gonna punish him when I get in the ring with him,” Wilder said. “Like I tell people, I say what I mean. And most likely, what I say comes to pass. So if he gets in the ring with me, that will be his punishment. I will make him pay. I will make him pay. I will make him pay.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.