A full breakdown of an explosive night of heavyweight action, headlined by Luis Ortiz against Charles Martin in a title eliminator New Year's Day on FOX Sports pay-per-view.
This Saturday, January 1, atop a special New Year’s Day FOX Sports PBC pay-per-view (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) from Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, Cuba’s Luis “King Kong” Ortiz (32-2, 27 KOs) meets former world champ Charles Martin (28-2-1, 25 KOs) in an IBF world title eliminator.
This all-heavyweight card will feature four other high-stakes heavyweight clashes. In the co-main event, top contender Frank “The Cuban Flash” Sanchez faces late replacement Christian Hammer. Also, Jonnie Rice looks to prove that his July upset of Michael Coffie was anything but a fluke when they face off again and Gerald “El Gallo Negro” Washington takes on Turkish Olympian Ali Eren Demirezen. Opening up the pay-per-view, undefeated prospect Viktor Faust battles the always-game Iago Kiladze.
Here's a look at what fans can expect from the action this Saturday:
Luis Ortiz (32-2, 27 KOs) vs. Charles Martin (28-2-1, 25 KOs)
The 42-year-old Ortiz, fighting out of Miami by way of Camaguey, Cuba, has long been included among the elite of the heavyweight division. However, two competitive losses to then-WBC champ Deontay Wilder and a general unwillingness among other heavyweight top dogs to meet his challenge have kept the highly-skilled Cuban from other big opportunities.
Still, the southpaw boxer-puncher has managed to notch dominant victories over prominent names such as Monte Barrett, Bryant Jennings, Tony Thompson, Malik Scott, Travis Kauffman, and Christian Hammer. Most recently, in November 2020, he scored a 45-second stoppage of Alexander Flores.
Charles Martin, originally from St. Louis and now training in Southern California under the guidance of Manny Robles, beat Vyacheslav Glazkov via third-round TKO for the vacant IBF heavyweight title in 2016. Following a brief reign, which ended at the hands of Anthony Joshua, the southpaw has gone 5-1, with notable improvement in style and technique in each subsequent appearance.
Although a former world champ, some may argue that Martin’s breakthrough performance came in his narrow 2018 decision loss to Adam Kownacki, where he turned in a tough, gritty performance. Undefeated in three bouts since that loss, he most recently blasted away a determined Gerald Washington in six rounds on the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury 2 undercard in February 2020.
Ortiz-Martin will pit Ortiz’s craft and guile against Martin’s power, growing skill set, and steadfast self-belief. This southpaw vs. southpaw matchup also features two fighters whose prominent offensive weapon is a jarring straight left hand. While Ortiz’s defensive ability and edge in all-around skill level probably makes him the favorite in this encounter, Martin has been looking quick and potent in recent performances.
Expect a hard-fought battle of skills and wills in this IBF title eliminator with a world title shot at stake.
In Ortiz’s Own Words
“I can’t wait to give my fans in South Florida a great show on New Year’s Day and earn another shot at the heavyweight title. Charles Martin is a good fighter, but he’s standing in my way. The only thing on my mind is getting in the ring and making a big statement in this fight to show again why the heavyweight division fears me.”
In Martin’s Own Words
“Nobody wants to fight me, and nobody wants to fight Ortiz, so we’ll fight each other. I’m going to show the world on January 1 why I deserve a title shot. I’ve paid my dues, and I want my belt back. Beating Ortiz is going to get me one step closer to that goal. To become a two-time heavyweight champion, I have to get past Ortiz first, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
“ I’ve paid my dues, and I want my belt back. ” Former Heavyweight World Champion - Charles Martin
Frank Sanchez (19-0, 13 KOs) vs. Christian Hammer (26-8, 16 KOs)
Sanchez was a standout in the iconic Cuban amateur system and a former Cuban national champion with a 214-6 record before defecting in 2016. In 2017, he made his professional debut and has since been impressing experts with his high-end skills and unflappable ring demeanor. The 29-year-old “Cuban Flash” is based in Miami, but trains in San Diego under the guidance of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez trainer Eddy Reynoso. Hammer is a late replacement for Puerto Rican Olympian Carlos Negron. The 34-year-old Romanian, who fights out of Germany, has career high-water mark victories over David Price and Kevin Johnson, but has been in the ring with big names such as Tyson Fury, Alexander Povetkin, and Luis Ortiz. In his most recent bout, this past October, he was forced to retire against Hughie Fury due to a bicep injury.
Jonnie Rice (14-6-1, 10 KOs) vs. Michael Coffie II (12-1, 9 KOs)
Rice, a native of Columbia, South Carolina, came into his first bout with Coffie as a late replacement and the decided underdog. He not only emerged victorious, he stopped the heavy-handed former Marine in five rounds. Coffie, who seemed to be on the road to heavyweight stardom before July’s upset loss, will be looking to fix the errors made against Rice and earn back his place as a hot property in the division.
Gerald Washington (20-4-1, 13 KOs) vs. Ali Eren Demirezen (14-1, 11 KOs)
Washington, the 6-foot-6 former USC college football star, had a rough 2020. In February, he was stopped in six rounds by Charles Martin on the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury 2 undercard. Then, in July, he was forced to withdraw from his bout with Michael Coffie due to a COVID-19 infection. “El Gallo Negro” is looking to get back on the road of title contention. Demirezen is a 2016 Olympian representing his native Turkey and a former European heavyweight champion as a pro. He’s 3-0 since his lone career loss in 2019 to Efe Ajagba and, in his most recent bout this past March, stopped Nikola Milacic in two rounds.
Viktor Faust (8-0, 6 KOs) vs. Iago Kiladze (27-5-1, 19 KOs)
As an amateur, Faust won gold medals at the 2017 European Championships and 2019 European Games and was on his way to the 2020 Olympics before deciding to turn pro. The style and ring temperament of the 6-foot-5, 29-year-old from Svitlovodsk, Ukraine have garnered comparisons to long-reigning heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko. Georgian Kiladze, meanwhile, is a well-traveled pro with an entertaining kill-or-be-killed style. The 35-year-old’s highest profile fight to date was a fifth-round stoppage loss to Efe Ajagba in 2019 that saw him drop the Nigerian top prospect in the third round.
For a closer look at Ortiz vs Martin, check out our fight night page.
- Ortiz vs Martin