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Luis Ortiz vs. Alexander Ustinov on Canelo card on September 17

Alexander Ustinov Canelo Alvarez

By Jeff Aranow: Interim WBA heavyweight champion Luis “The Real King Kong” Ortiz (25-0, 22 KOs) will be defending his interim WBA title in three months from now against #3 WBA Alexander Ustinov (33-1, 24 KOs) on the undercard of Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s next fight on September 17 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.

It’s unknown right now whether this card will be televised on HBO pay-per-view. It will depend on how the 25-year-old Canelo’s opponent will be. With Golden Boy Promotions staging the fight at the MGM Grand, which has a seating capacity of only 16,800, it would appear fairly obvious that Canelo (47-1-1, 33 KOs) won’t be fighting IBF/IBO/WBA/WBC middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (35-0, 32 KOs) on this date, because that’s a fight that Golden Boy is interested in staging it at the huge 80,000 seat AT&T stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Canelo-Golovkin will likely wind up in Texas, if/when it ever happens. Canelo’s rematch against Miguel Cotto is being talked about for Madison Square Garden in New York when that fight happens. All other fights for Canelo will be in Las Vegas.

Ortiz, 37, is coming off a 6th round knockout win over 44-year-old former two-time world title challenger Tony Thompson (40-7, 27 KOs) on March 5 at the DC Armory in Washington, DC. Ortiz knocked Thompson down three times in dropping him in rounds one, three and six. The fight was halted after his knockdown or Thompson in the sixth.

Before that fight, Ortiz defeated Bryant Jennings by a 7th round knockout in what some boxing fans believe to be the best performance by the Cuban Ortiz in his six-year pro career. Ortiz fought with a flaw the entire fight, and looked like a combination of Larry Holmes, Muhammad Ali and Riddick Bowe.

Ortiz was constantly changing styles and showing new wrinkles that fans never knew existed in his game. The reason the fans didn’t realize how complex Ortiz’s skills are is because he’s frequently knocked out his opponents quickly while fighting in 1st gear without needing to show the many facets of his game. Jennings pushed Ortiz a little to step it up in that fight, and showed off a lot of talent that fans had never seen before.

The 39-year-old Ustinov has won his last six fights since suffering an 11th round knockout loss to Kubrat Pulev in 2012. Ustinov’s wins have come against David Tua, Ivica Perkovic, Travis Walker, Chauncy Welliver, Maurice Harris and Konstantin Airich.

In facing the 6’4” Ortiz, Ustinov is taking a big step up in talent, and it’s very likely he won’t be nearly equipped to handle this level of competition. The 6’7 1/2” Ustinov will have a 3 1/2 inch height advantage over Ortiz, but that’s still not likely going to be enough to get him the win.

The southpaw Ortiz is faster, stronger and the better boxer of the two. Ortiz has the amateur pedigree going for him as a big advantage from his many years fighting on the Cuban National amateur team. However, Ortiz didn’t distinguish himself in fighting at the very top in international competition, however. Ortiz compiled an amateur record of 343-19. He never made it to the Olympics.

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