On Wednesday, Rick Reeno of BoxingScene reported that undefeated heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz had signed a deal with Al Haymon, arguably the most powerful behind-the-scenes man in the sport. This move should set Ortiz up to finally get the sort of high-profile fights he deserves.
In my opinion, Ortiz is the most talented heavyweight boxer on the planet. But at 38, his window for becoming a World Champion might be closing.
Ortiz is a product of the vaunted Cuban amateur system. Like his fellow countrymen Guillermo Rigondeaux and Erislandy Lara, he has often lacked for opponents willing to take the risk of facing him. However, unlike those smaller fighters, Ortiz is a monster-sized knockout artist with the potential to generate large demand at the box office.
Ortiz’s nickname is “The Real King Kong.” It fits him. He is stands 6’4″ and comes to the ring at around 240 pounds, with a mammoth, 84″ reach.
That size is combined with shocking speed and athleticism and elite boxing skill. It is a very rare package.
Ortiz’s breakout fight came in December 2015, when he knocked out Bryant Jennings. At the time, Jennings was a top 10, and arguably a top five, heavyweight. He had stoppage wins over legitimate contenders Bowie Tupou, Andrey Fedesov and Artur Szpilka. He recorded a split-decision win over Ortiz’s fellow Cuban Mike Perez. His only loss had come against Wladimir Klitschko by decision, in a fairly competitive bout.
Ortiz went through him like a storm wave crashing over a sand castle. It put him firmly on the radar as one of the division’s top five fighters. But a major bout has still yet to materialize for him.
Fighting under Al Haymon’s banner should finally provide Ortiz the opportunity to force himself into the conversation. The sport needs all the exciting, talented heavyweights it get.