By Jake Donovan
A long-discussed rematch targeted for Nov. 9 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif. is finally on the verge of becoming a reality.
Just not for Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz.
The timeline has once again shifted for their yet-to-be scheduled heavyweight title fight, as has the proposed location. Two sources involved in such talks have informed BoxingScene.com that the bout is now penciled in—with eraser firmly attached at the other end—for Nov. 23 in Las Vegas, Nev.
A venue was not specified by either source, although the T-Mobile Arena is definitely ruled out as the National Hockey League (NHL) Vegas Golden Knights have a home scheduled on that date.
The forthcoming bout—which still has yet to be formally announced beyond Wilder (41-0-1, 40KOs) revealing it to be signed and sealed back in late May—was previously targeted for Sept. 28 and Nov. 9, with the Staples Center as the initial frontrunner to host the fight on either date.
Staples Center will now instead host a welterweight unification bout between Errol Spence and Shawn Porter on Sept. 28, headlining a Fox Sports Pay-Per-View event. The Nov. 9 date seemed like a reality for Wilder-Ortiz II once the National Basketball Association schedule was announced on Monday, leaving it as the only available Saturday for the rest of the year.
According to both sources, the decision was since made to have the fight instead take place in Las Vegas. It freed up an opportunity for YouTube celebrities Logan Paul and KSI to take their second act to L.A., as The Athletic has reported their rematch heading to the venue, with to be promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA outfit.
A Nov. 9 date remains possible for Wilder-Ortiz II, although sources from both camps have alerted BoxingScene.com to train and prepare for a Nov. 23 meeting.
Either date presents the same availability—or lack thereof—in Las Vegas. The MGM Grand Garden Arena—where Wilder won his title in a 12-round decision over Bermane Stiverne in Jan. 15—is available on both dates, as is Mandalay Bay. The T-Mobile Arena is booked on both dates, with NHL on the 23rd and the Professional Bull Riders World Series taking place from Nov. 6-10.
The memorable first fight between Wilder and Ortiz (31-1, 26KOs; 2NCs) took place last March at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Wllder endured a near-disastrous 7th round to rally back, dropping and stopping Ortiz in the 10th round of their instant classic.
Barclays serves as the official East Coast venue for all Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) events, including the last ring appearance for both boxers. Ortiz picked up his third straight win, scoring a 10-round decision over Christian Hammer this past March, exactly 52 weeks to the day of his lone career loss at the hands of Wilder.
Two months later came Wilder’s 4th stoppage win in as many appearances at Barclays, needing less than a round to score an iconic knockout over heated rival Dominic Breazeale. The venue was once teased as a strong possibility to host the rematch, but its events calendar quickly ruled out that possibility.
As plans continue to linger for this particular rematch, another for Wilder continues to wait in the wings. Assuming he escapes with his title (and unbeaten record) still intact, the long-reigning titlist is due to run it back with undefeated former lineal champion Tyson Fury.
Their bout has been targeted to take place in the first quarter of 2020, which would mark a year after plans for their originally scheduled rematch were squashed. The two were due to collide this past May, only for Fury to bail from negotiations at the 11th hour to instead sign a reported nine-figure deal with Top Rank and ESPN+.
Fury’s first fight under the pact came this past June, scoring a 2nd round knockout of then unbeaten—and still unheralded—Tom Schwarz in an event which generated a lot of coverage but proved disappointing at the box office. His next fight under said deal will also take place in Vegas and is just as uninspiring, as he faces unbeaten but unheralded Swedish southpaw Otto Wallin on Sept. 14 at T-Mobile Arena.
Hopefully by then, a final date, location and Pay-Per-View platform will have been established for Wilder’s long-discussed rematch with Ortiz. Should the Nov. 23 date stick, it will come two weeks prior to the announced Dec. 7 rematch between unified titlist Andy Ruiz Jr. and dethroned champ Anthony Joshua.
Similar spacing came with the last time Wilder and Joshua fought. Wilder’s win over Breazeale came exactly two weeks prior to England’s Joshua watching his U.S. debut and title reign end in shambles, as he was stopped in seven rounds by California’s Ruiz.
While their rematch has been formally announced, it has yet to be blessed by one of its participants. Ruiz Jr. has shown disinterest in traveling to Saudi Arabia for the event.
At least he has a date and location to complain about. It’s more than can be said for the lone remaining heavyweight title fight for 2019, whose constant change in plans have paved the way for a celebrity boxing rematch to revel in the aftermath.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox