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Ortiz-Thompson & Ali-Vargas this Saturday on HBO

Tony Thompson Jessie Vargas Luis Ortiz Ortiz vs. Thompson Ortiz-Thompson Sadam AliBy Jeff Aranow: Interim WBA heavyweight champion Luis “The Real King Kong” Ortiz (24-0, 21 KOs) will be defending his title this Saturday night on March 5 on HBO Boxing against 44-year-old Tony Thompson (40-6, 27 KOs) in what should be an exciting match-up at the DC Armory, in Washington, District of Columbia.

In the co-feature bout is former WBA light welterweight champion Jessie Vargas (26-1, 9 KOs) facing unbeaten #1 WBO Sadam Ali (22-0, 13 KOs) in a fight for the vacant WBO welterweight title. This is the title that was recently vacated by Timothy Bradley, who opted to vacate the belt rather than defend it so that he could face Filipino star Manny Pacquiao on April 9 on HBO pay-per-view.


Ortiz, 36, defeated American Bryant Jennings in a 7th round knockout last December in an exciting fight. The 6’4” southpaw Ortiz showed off many different facets in his game in that fight that previously weren’t shown by him because he had been knocking out everyone so quickly. But Jennings was able to extend the 235lb Ortiz enough for the boxing community to see a lot of the different things the talented Cuban fighter can do inside the ring.

Fans can only hope the 6’5” Tony Thompson can take Ortiz deep enough into the fight so that he can show more of the things he can do. Thompson has a pretty good chin, and it takes a formidable opponent to take him out.

A prime Wladimir Klitschko stopped Thompson in the 6th round in their fight in 2012. Wladimir also stopped Thompson in the 11th round in 2008. However, that was a very difficult fight for Wladimir, as he was hit more by Thompson in that fight than he had previously in any of his other fights. We learned in that fight that Wladimir has problems with big heavyweights.

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Ortiz could have problems with Thompson’s height, reach and high volume punching attack if he’s not able to get him out of their quickly. We really don’t know much about Ortiz other than what we’ve seen from him in a handful of mismatches televised on HBO. Ortiz hasn’t fought a solid heavyweight with size and power yet.

We do know that Ortiz struggled in the amateur ranks in Cuba when he fought opponents that pressured him, set a face pace, and didn’t let him rest. Ortiz would get ragged and tired, and lose power on his shots in those fights. Ortiz’s bread and butter punch is his uppercut, and when he wasn’t able to land that shot in the amateurs, he would struggle and lose when facing quality opposition. Not much has changed with Ortiz in the pros. He still likes to throw uppercuts, and he still looks ragged when the pace of the fight speeds up.

Fortunately for him, he’s facing a fighter that fights at a slow place in Thompson. While Thompson is able to throw a lot of punches, he still fights in a slightly lazy manner and doesn’t speed things up much.

In the Jessie Vargas vs. Sadam Ali fight, unbeaten 27-year-old Ali will be looking to beat the more experienced pro Vargas to win the WBO 147lb title. It’s a step up for Ali, whose best wins of his career have come against Francisco Santana and Luis Carlos Abregu. Vargas is probably a little bit better than Abregu in terms of boxing skills, but definitely not the puncher that he is. It’s surprising that Ali was able to stop Abregu, because he’s not considered a puncher by any means.

The 26-year-old Vargas was beaten in his last fight by Tim Bradley last June. It was a one-sided affair with Vargas being totally outclassed for 11 rounds until he was able to stagger Bradley in the last 30 seconds of the 12th. Vargas wasn’t able to finish Bradley. He would have had a better chance of scoring a knockout if the referee hadn’t mistakenly stopped the fight with 10 seconds left in the bout. He thought that he heard the final bell sound, but it was the 10 second warning for the end of the round.

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The Top Rank promoted Vargas is a pretty flawed fighter. He has controversial wins in the past over Anton Novikov and Khabib Allakhverdiev. Ali should be able to beat Vargas as well unless we see another controversial decision. Vargas has little punching power, and he can be outworked.

Also on this Saturday’s career is a scheduled 12 round featherweight clash between Robinson Castellanos and Oscar Escandon.

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