Cuban contender can’t turn back the clock on his setback to Deontay Wilder, but the powerful heavyweight can take the lessons he learned from his lone loss as a pro into Saturday night's showdown vs Travis Kauffman on Showtime PPV.
Luis Ortiz’s lone loss didn’t demoralize the 39-year-old heavyweight contender.
Eight months later, the powerful southpaw is more motivated than ever to become world champion. Ortiz has taken only one month off since Deontay Wilder knocked him out in the 10th round of their March 3rd fight at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Ortiz had Wilder in serious trouble during the seventh round of their tense contest and is convinced he can finish the job if he earns a second shot at Wilder.
That has inspired him to stay as active as possible.
Two fights after Wilder dropped him three times and stopped him, Ortiz can remain at the forefront of fight fans’ consciousness as a potential opponent for the Wilder-Tyson Fury winner by impressively defeating Travis Kauffman this Saturday night. The Ortiz-Kauffman match will be one of three undercard bouts on the Showtime pay-per-view (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) from Staples Center in Los Angeles.
For Ortiz, it’s a high-profile opportunity to show the appropriate people that he deserves another title shot, whether it’s against Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) or Fury (27-0, 19 KOs).
“I think that my performance against Wilder and since that fight have warranted a rematch,” Ortiz said. “I had Wilder hurt. I just made mental mistakes during the fight. I was fatigued, but I did not get knocked out flat. The referee did his job, but I feel that I did enough to merit another shot. I’ve worked hard to correct the mistakes I made and, in a rematch, it would be a different ending.”
Crushing conclusion notwithstanding, Ortiz and his handlers took invaluable lessons from the first defeat of his professional career that they’ll utilize if he gets another championship chance.
Once Ortiz hurt Wilder with a right hook, he went for broke, rather than patiently picking his spots to finish off the WBC champion in those final 40 seconds of the seventh. Unloading a barrage of power punches against the dazed Wilder fatigued Ortiz and enabled Wilder to regain his senses.
“Luis went through the experience of what happened in the Wilder fight and that’s the best way to overcome it in the future,” said Herman Caicedo, Ortiz’s trainer. “He lived it, he breathed it and now, he’s going to go out and earn a chance to change the outcome. We have no excuses for the way the Wilder fight ended. I thought Ortiz was doing fine, but Wilder’s punches certainly had an effect.
“It’s heavyweight boxing, so being knocked down first in the fifth round definitely drew from the power supply. Unfortunately, when he let everything go in the seventh round against Wilder, and almost knocked Wilder out, that drained him completely. Wilder was able to recover and capitalize. But we now know what we have to do in a rematch.”
Following the Wilder defeat, Ortiz obliterated Razvan Cojanu in July. The former WBA interim title-holder cracked Cojanu with a left hand to the middle of his face, a devastating shot that floored the towering Romanian in the second round. Cojanu attempted to rise, but fell face-first, through the bottom ropes. He tried to reach his feet again, stumbled and fell once more, prompting the bout’s stoppage.
A rejuvenated Ortiz (29-1, 25 KOs, 2 NC) hopes to produce a comparably emphatic knockout of Kauffman on Saturday night.
“He has been doing a lot of talking, saying that I am a cheater,” Ortiz said, referring Kauffman’s criticism of his PED ordeals. “But what my advantage is, is my hands and he will see that. Twenty-nine others have tried and it didn’t work, so he will see what I bring on fight night.”
The 33-year-old Kauffman (32-2, 23 KOs, 1 NC) won a hard-fought, 10-round majority decision over Los Angeles’ Scott Alexander (14-3-2, 8 KOs) in his last fight, on a PBC on FS1 card June 10 in Lancaster, California.
The Reading, Pennsylvania native can better position himself for a title shot by beating his heavily favored opponent. Kauffman has lost only a 12-round majority decision to Amir Mansour since Tony Grano defeated him nine years ago.
“Kauffman is a strong fighter who came up fighting in Philadelphia,” Ortiz said. “I know that he’s a tough guy who’s going to come to fight and I’m going to be prepared it.”
Inactivity has hurt Ortiz at times. Fighting for the third time in nine months has been a welcome change of pace for a fighter who’ll turn 40 in March.
“I’m 100-percent ready for this fight,” Ortiz said. “We never stopped working after my last fight and I’m going to show it on December 1. I love staying active. I just want to keep fighting and showing off my skills.”
- Luis Ortiz