Luis Ortiz: Tony Thompson is just a stepping stone
By Dan Ambrose: With a little over a week to go before the March 5 fight between interim WBA heavyweight champion Luis Ortiz (24-0, 21 KOs) and 44-year-old former two-time world title challenger (40-6, 27 KOs), there’s a lot of questions that need to be answered from the 36-year-old Cuban Ortiz.
Ortiz sees Thompson as a stepping stone to him winning the WBA title outright and then unifying the titles, but he still hasn’t shown whether he can hang with the top guys. Ortiz wants to unify the heavyweight titles. That’s going to be very hard for him to do if his promoters at Golden Boy aren’t able to get the other world champions to fight him.
Ortiz doesn’t have a big name right now, and it might take him years to build a decent fan base. Ortiz needs to fight more often like Gennady Golovkin if he wants to build a fan base in a hurry. It would help if he knocked everyone out as well.
Ortiz’s best win thus far was over Bryant Jennings last December, and that was a fight where Jennings had his moments. The fight was a back and forth affair until the southpaw Ortiz closed the show in the 7th in stopping the American.
The Ortiz-Thompson fight will be televised on HBO Boxing After Dark from the DC Armory, in Washington, District of Columbia. Thompson was brave enough to take the fight against Ortiz after other fighters turned down the fight, according to Ortiz’s promoters at Golden Boy. You never know why certain fighters turn down a fight. If the money is right, I think anyone turns down a fight against Ortiz. I don’t care how good he is.
Fighters aren’t going to turn down a fight if they’re offered good money, and you have to wonder what exactly Golden Boy was offering guys to step inside the ring with Ortiz. If they were offering chicken feed to fight Ortiz on HBO, then it’s not surprising that they had problems getting someone to agree to the fight. Fighters expect to be paid well when they’re fighting on HBO, especially against a world champion like Luis Ortiz.
“This fight is just another stepping stone on my path to becoming the unified heavyweight world champion,” Ortiz said via ESPN.com. “I came to the United States to chase my American dream, and fighting at the nation’s capital is a dream come true. My life is coming full circle, and I know that this fight will put me a step closer to achieving everything I have worked so hard for in my career.”
I don’t see Ortiz unifying the titles at heavyweight. He’s not a big enough name to get the other champions to fight him. Deontay Wilder isn’t going to bother fighting Ortiz because the money isn’t there. The same with Charles Martin and Tyson Fury. If Ortiz was a big name, then it would definitely be worth it to fight him. But as of now, Ortiz is just an aging interim WBA champion and not even a full champ. Ortiz needs to beat WBA champion Ruslan Chagaev to become a full champion, and that’s going to be a tough fight because Chagaev has power, skills and a good chin.
The problem that the 6’4″, 235lb Ortiz has is he and his promoters at Golden Boy are racing against time. Ortiz is about to turn 37 in March, and he’s getting older. He doesn’t have time to wait on the top fighters to eventually get around to fighting him. Look at how long it’s taken Gennady Golovkin to get the top fighters in the 160lb division to face him. He’s been trying to get guys like Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Miguel Cotto, Daniel Jacobs, Peter Quillin and Felix Sturm to fight him for years. It’s now after toiling away for the past five years in fights in the U.S that Golovkin is about to possibly get a fight against Canelo. Ortiz doesn’t have that kind of time to wait on the top guys like Wilder, Martin, Anthony Joshua and Fury to fight him. He needs them to fight him within the next couple of years. If they haven’t fought him by then, it’s likely that Ortiz will have aged to the point where he’s no longer a threat to beating any of them.