Miami resident Luis Ortiz looks for another career push that will eventually reward him with heavyweight supremacy. His recent performance two months ago served notice that Ortiz is now considered among the sport’s top heavyweights.
In fact, Ortiz won’t spend additional time savoring his technical-knockout victory over former contender Bryant Jennings. Ortiz, 36, will step into the ring again March 5 in Washington. The native of Cuba will make the second defense of his second-tier heavyweight belt against Tony Thompson at the D.C. Arena.
As with his match against Jennings, Ortiz will enjoy the lucrative backdrop of an HBO telecast when he faces Thompson. Ortiz (24-0, 21 KOs) capitalized on his previous HBO appearance, stopping Jennings in seven rounds and enhancing his profile in the suddenly open heavyweight class.
For the first time in a decade, the heavyweights don’t have a dominant personality at the top after Wladimir Klitschko’s loss against Tyson Fury in November. Moreover, Deontay Wilder has already claimed the sanctioning body title Klitschko didn’t consolidate.
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Fury plans on granting Klitschko an immediate rematch later this year. Therefore, Ortiz will fill his fight calendar whenever possible, such as his ring date with Thompson.
Like Jennings, Thompson (40-6, 27 KOs) is a former contender, losing two title bids against Klitschko in 2008 and 2012. But Thompson, 44, has lost three of his past five fights.
Despite Thompson’s advanced boxing age and recent losing skid, Ortiz realizes the importance of focusing on the immediate opponent instead of visualizing the possible championship riches that could await him.
“I consider [Thompson] a tough rival, and like I always do, I’m going to do my job up in the ring,” Ortiz said in a recent conference call. “I will not get overconfident. This fight is just as important as my last one.”
AROUND THE RING
▪ HBO and Showtime will have competing telecasts on Saturday night from two important boxing markets and featuring fighters who could provide the sport a new era of attractions.
Leo Santa Cruz (31-0-1, 17 KOs) will defend his World Boxing Association featherweight title against Kiko Martinez (35-6, 26 KOs) in a Showtime-televised bout from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
“I always train to make a statement,” Santa Cruz said. “I want to go out there and show everyone that I’m really good, and I deserve to be considered one of the best.
Meanwhile, HBO will continue to profile Terence Crawford’s ascent in the pound-for-pound best fighters’ lists. Crawford (27-0, 19 KOs) will make the second defense of his World Boxing Organization junior-welterweight belt against Hank Lundy (26-5-1, 13 KOs) at the Theater in Madison Square Garden.
Crawford, 28, fought three of his previous four bouts in his hometown Omaha, Nebraska. Now he looks forward to appearing in New York and at one of the sport’s most historic venues.
“I’ve always wanted to fight in New York — at the Garden — even as a small boy,” Crawford said when the fight was officially announced last month. “Fighting in New York tells me where my career is really at and where we are going. I feel like I am one of the guys that will put boxing on my back and carry the sport. I want to do that.”
The Madison Square Garden card and HBO broadcast also will feature rising contender Felix Verdejo, who is being hailed as the next star from Puerto Rico. Verdejo (19-0, 14 KOs) will face Brazil’s William Silva for a regional lightweight title.
▪ Spanish-language network Telemundo will begin its 27th year of live telecasts with a regional junior-bantamweight title bout from Palm Bay on Friday night.
As in the previous three years, Boxeo Telemundo will present its 2016 shows on a seasonal format. Friday’s broadcast of the bout between Philadelphia’s Miguel Cartagena and Mexico’s Ricardo Rodriguez will be the first of four successive weekly spring shows. An additional four telecasts will be televised in the summer and fall.
Miami-based All Star Boxing will continue its lengthy association with the Telemundo telecasts. All Star Boxing began promoting shows for the network in 2001.
▪ A training camp injury to his opponent scuttled Randall Bailey’s Australia travel plans. The Miami native was scheduled to face Jeff Horn for a regional welterweight belt in Australia on March 2 before Horn injured his larynx while sparring two weeks ago. No rescheduled date has been reached but Bailey’s manager, Peter Kahn, said the two fighters’ camps are targeting April 27.
Friday (11:30 p.m., Telemundo-Ch. 51): Miguel Cartagena vs. Ricardo Rodriguez, 10, junior bantamweights.
Saturday (5:30 p.m., Showtime Extreme): Carl Frampton vs. Scott Quigg for the unified IBF and WBA junior-featherweight titles.