Unbeaten Cuban contender promises to show the world who “King Kong” really is Saturday night on Showtime.
The 38-year-old heavyweight is tired.
Not from the emotional, lengthy journey that began when he defected from Cuba in 2010. Not from all the grueling training. And not from giving so much blood and urine to the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association in recent weeks that he has lost track.
With the biggest opportunity of Ortiz’s boxing career just days away, the comparatively quiet Cuban contender cannot wait to silence Wilder the best way he knows how. Ortiz promises that the brash, unbeaten WBC heavyweight champion is in for a devastating awakening when they meet this Saturday night on the Showtime-televised card (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
“He’s talking too much,” Ortiz said through a translator. “He’s going to have to back that up in the ring. He says he’s going to kill ‘King Kong.’ He's going to knock me out. I want to watch him try. I’m not like those other guys he fought. I’m a real fighter — tough and with a lot of experience. I’ve been fighting since I was 10 years old.”
Wilder has won 38 of his 39 professional fights by knockout. Former WBC champ Bermane Stiverne was the only opponent to go the distance with Wilder, but the 2008 American Olympian dropped him three times and stopped Stiverne in the first round of their rematch November 4 at Barclays Center.
Ortiz isn’t impressed. The 6-feet-4, 240-pound southpaw is certain Wilder hasn’t fought anyone with his combination of intelligence, power and skill.
“He doesn’t intimidate me,” Ortiz said. “His trash talk makes me laugh. It’s just a lot of noise. I’m hungry. I’m doing this for my family. He better take me seriously because he’s going to find himself on the canvas before he knows it. I’m going to show the world who ‘King Kong’ is.”
The 6-feet-7, 220-pound Wilder has promised to destroy “King Kong,” among many other things. After listening to Wilder make countless bold predictions during the buildup toward their showdown, Ortiz (28-0, 24 KOs, 2 NC) wonders whether Wilder is trying to convince himself about his capabilities.
“I’m not the kind that likes to trash talk, but I’ve had it with this guy,” Ortiz said. “He talks too much. He has a big mouth. He has insulted me and has said too many dumb things.”
Insults aside, Ortiz appreciates the position he occupies. Wilder wasn’t obligated to grant him another opportunity once Ortiz’s performance-enhancing drug debacle led to their November 4 bout being canceled.
“ He better take me seriously because he’s going to find himself on the canvas before he knows it. I’m going to show the world who ‘King Kong’ is. ” Unbeaten Heavyweight Contender Luis Ortiz
The WBC wouldn’t allow Wilder to fight Ortiz because Ortiz tested positive for two diuretics — chlorothiazide and hydrochlorothiazide — in a test administered by VADA as part of the WBC’s “Clean Boxing Program.” Ortiz maintains prescribed medication for high blood pressure triggered those positive tests, but he accepts blame for violating VADA’s protocol by failing to disclose that he takes that medication on a form.
“I had been taking that medicine for two years,” Ortiz said. “It was my mistake not to disclose that prescription drug in the paperwork. I never thought a prescription was going to bring me so much trouble. I was taking this medicine to treat high blood pressure, but apparently it’s also used to go to the bathroom a lot and mask other things [PEDs]. I drink two gallons of water per day. I go to the bathroom a lot already. I never put two and two together. I’m clean.
“The dose they found in my system was too low to mask anything at all. If I would have known this prescription drug was not allowed, I would have told my trainer and my doctor. I’m a heavyweight. I don’t need to make weight. Why am I going to go to the trouble of taking an illegal substance that makes you go to the bathroom a lot? I have no need. I simply didn’t know it was banned. If I would have known, I would have said something to my trainer or to the doctors.”
Ortiz hasn’t been given the benefit of the doubt by fans, media and certainly not Wilder because of his previous PED ordeal.
He tested positive for nandrolone, an anabolic steroid, following his first-round knockout of Lateef Kayode in September 2014. The WBA stripped Ortiz of the interim heavyweight title he won in that fight and suspended him for a year.
The WBA took Ortiz out of its rankings and suspended him for another year once his November 4 fight with Wilder was canceled. He had been the WBA’s mandatory challenger for Anthony Joshua.
The WBC accepted Ortiz’s explanation regarding his blood pressure medication and kept him in its rankings.
“A lot of people that believe in me and know me well know that I would not do anything that can jeopardize my future as a boxer,” Ortiz said. “I have too much at stake — my family, my children and the possibility to provide for them.”
The ostracized Ortiz can change all of their lives by upsetting Wilder. Knocking Wilder off his collision course with Joshua would move Ortiz into position to make millions for future fights.
“Every fight I’ve had in my career has been important,” Ortiz said. “The key is always to avoid thinking that it’s win or die because that can put you off center. So the way I see it is that this fight is important for me because I have to win it. And I’m going to. It’s a world championship, but for me it’s just another day at work. My only goal is to win this fight. Win. Win. Win. By winning this fight, everything else unfolds. I get a title and I help my family.”
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