Did King Kong earn another shot?

By Robert Ecksel on March 4, 2019
Did King Kong earn another shot?
It often seems like eyes wide shut outnumber eyes wide open. (Tom Casino/Showtime)

“Ortiz is a very good and experienced fighter. He’s technical and smart but he’s not as intimidating as people say he is…”

Unlike heavyweight champions, there are only so few contenders who can give those champions a run for their money.

The most credible of the lot may be the veteran Cuban banger Luis Ortiz. He put some hurt on Deontay Wilder when they fought last year, and won a lopsided unanimous decision Saturday night against Christian Hammer, a man he was expected to destroy.

But expectations are in the eye of the beholder, much like assessments of performance, and it often seems like eyes wide shut outnumber eyes wide open.

The fight at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center was surprisingly competitive, to the shock of many. Ortiz looked less fearsome than he has in the past, despite now having won three in a row since the loss to Wilder, and considering what’s on the line in terms of his future earning power.

Hammer was a prohibitive underdog going in, with his 47% knockout ratio and having lost 6 of 30 fights, 3 by KO. And while he failed to shock the world, he shocked some fans with his lead right hands and granite chin.

But Ortiz, who is on the cusp of 40 and has just a single loss, has praised his own performance, even more gushingly than his fans disguised as writers.

“The fight wasn’t what I was expecting,” Ortiz said after the bout. “It was a hard fight and my corner really had to work with me. After I got the rhythm, I heated up a little bit.”

The clock is ticking, his skills are eroding, and the heavyweight champions, none of whom are making moves to fight each other, seem to be settling for easy pickings.

With Joshua scheduled to fight “Big Baby” Miller, with Wilder preparing for Dominic Breazeale, and with Tyson Fury counting his lucky stars and money—Luis Ortiz may not be part of equation, as he’s still dangerous and there’s too much to lose to roll the dice against the heavy-handed Cuban.

“After going 10 full rounds with Hammer, I feel ready and able now more than ever for a Wilder rematch. If not Wilder, then bring me Joshua,” he said, “because, I mean after all he did again say publicly he wanted to fight me. If he says no again to my call-out then bring me Tyson Fury. Let’s get some real fights for 2019. Let’s give the fans what they want.”

Giving the fans what they want should be the goal of every promoter. But boxing is a business. Fighters understand that. Fight fans should as well.

“Every heavyweight out there should know that I still have it at 40,” Ortiz added. “Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, I’m ready.”

He was also ready for Hammer, who said after the bout, “Ortiz is a very good and experienced fighter. He’s technical and smart but he’s not as intimidating as people say he is.”

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