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Wilder-Ortiz official for March 3 at Barclays Center

By Jeff Aranow: Deontay Wilder’s title defense against 38-year-old Luis ‘King Kong’ Ortiz is now official for March 3 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the fight will take place on that date or if it’ll take place at all.

WBC heavyweight champion Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs) and Ortiz (28-0, 24 KOs) were supposed to fight each other on November 4, last year, but the Cuban fighter tested positive for 2 banned drugs. The fight was then cancelled. Wilder ended up fighting Bermane Stiverne on the November 4 date.

Wilder didn’t have to take the fight with Ortiz. He specifically wanted to give Ortiz a second chance to face him. Wilder’s rationale for rescheduling the Ortiz fight is the buzz that was created the previous time he was set to face him. Unfortunately, the buzz is not there from the boxing fans for the news of the Wilder-Ortiz fight. The fans don’t appear to be as interested in the Wilder vs. Ortiz fight now. There are a few things that are hurting the interest in the Wilder vs. Ortiz fight this time around and they are as follows:

• Ortiz’s positive drug test

• Ortiz’s inactivity and the poor opposition he’s faced

• Emergence of Anthony Joshua. U.S boxing fans prefer to see Wilder fight relevant guys like Joshua rather than older, inactive fighters like Ortiz

• Ortiz’s advanced age

Wilder vs. Ortiz is not the fight the U.S boxing fans want to see. The fans want to see Wilder face IBF, WBA heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua or at the very least, Tyson Fury. Ortiz hasn’t improved his brand with his inactivity and the poor opposition he’s been facing to pad his record with. For a fighter as old as Ortiz, he really should have been fighting better opposition many years ago instead of the poor quality fighters he’s been facing. Ortiz had a long amateur record in Cuba. He didn’t need to burn through 8 years of his career fighting lower level opposition. It’s too bad Ortiz wasted all that time, because he should he should have started fighting 1st tier opposition in the heavyweight division from his first fight as a pro instead of waiting 8 years.

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If Ortiz and Wilder make it through training camp without any mishaps, the two will be meeting up on March 3 on Premier Boxing Champions on Showtime. If Wilder and Ortiz make it into the ring on March 3, it should be an interesting fight for the boxing fans. Ortiz might give the 32-year-old Wilder his toughest test of his career. It’s also possible that Ortiz will crumble in the same way the 39-year-old Stiverne did in his 1st round knockout loss to Wilder on November 4. 2 1/2 years ago, Stiverne was a good fighter when Wilder fought him the first time in January 2015. But the combination of age and inactivity left Stiverne a fraction of the fighter that he once was when he fought Deontay in their rematch.

Ortiz will be turning 39-years-old on March 29, but a lot of boxing fans suspect that he’s actually 10 years older than that age. They see Ortiz as nearing 50-years-old. Whatever Ortiz’s age, he’s not looking like the same fighter he was several years ago when he was looking impressive in beating fighters like Byron Polly, Matias Ariel Vildondo and Bryent Jennings. You can’t say that the reason why Ortiz isn’t looking good now is because he’s facing better opposition, because he’s not been fighting higher quality fighters lately. Ortiz’s recent fights have come against Daniel Martz, David Allen and Maik Scott. He didn’t look good in any of those matches. Ortiz looked slow, ponderous, and very easy to hit. Ortiz seems to have lost a step from the fighter he was in 2015. That’s not good for Ortiz going into a fight with Wilder.

Hopefully, Wilder can get the fight he wants against Joshua after he takes care of business against Ortiz.

In the future, it would be good for Wilder to move on when fights don’t work out with opponents that are testing positive. Sometimes it’s better for a fighter to move on rather than putting his career in reverse to try and fight the same guy that he was scheduled to face previously. Wilder could have done better by taking the bigger payday against Dillian Whyte than facing Ortiz. You can argue that Wilder blew it by choosing not to agree to the Whyte fight. Taking smaller money to face Ortiz is not a wise move. If the fight fails to happen again due to Ortiz testing positive or suffering an injury, Wilder will have wasted more time in his career. Sometimes it’s best to move on when things don’t work out. You’d hate to see Wilder learn that lesson the hard way if Ortiz is flagged again for a positive test or if he comes up lame with an injury. Ortiz is no spring chicken. It’s risky taking on an older fighter, because they might not make it through training camp.

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