The former world title challenger plans to make a statement to the rest of the heavyweight division when he faces Alexander Flores Saturday night on FOX PBC Fight Night.
He’ll reach over and turn the light off, then back in, a hand cupped over his mouth to prevent any outburst, and somehow fold his massive 6-foot-4, 240-pound frame in the tiny area behind the men’s bathroom door each day at the Caicedo Sports Training Center.
Then, out of nowhere, Luis Ortiz will burst out with a grizzly growl, scaring the living hell of the poor, unsuspecting guy that just walked in, almost to the point where they piss themselves. Then, the Cuban expatriate will let out his infectious bellowing laugh, that echoes throughout the Miami, Florida, facility because he’s pranked another one.
This Saturday, November 7, Ortiz (31-2, 26 KOs) doesn’t plan on springing out against Alexander Flores (18-2-1, 16 KOs) in their 10-round heavyweight main event on FOX PBC Fight Night (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) from the Microsoft Theater, in Los Angeles, California.
Ortiz plans on coming straight at Flores, as the same destructive force he’s been throughout his career. He also plans to keep the heavyweight division on notice that he’s not going to hide behind any doors in letting them know he’s still a viable contender, despite his setback to then-WBC heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder in November 2019.
“I haven’t watched a replay of the Wilder fight to this day, or even the first fight,” said Ortiz, through his trainer, German Caicedo. “That’s because it’s in my head. It’s better than high-definition (TV), it’s better than watching it, because I lived it punch-by-punch.
“I had a unique point of view of both fights, so I don’t need to watch it and I haven’t watched it. I don’t have nightmares about it (laughs). The past is the past, but I was very upset over (the second fight). I never saw (Wilder’s) right hand. My issues have been with losing the (second Wilder) fight, because people forget, I was winning that fight.”
Ortiz was beating Wilder with :09 left in the seventh round. At the time, judges Eric Cheek, Dave Moretti and Steve Weisfeld all had the 41-year-old southpaw known as “King Kong” leading. Moretti and Weisfeld actually had it 5-1 after six in favor of Ortiz.
“I didn’t hide after I lost,” Ortiz said. “I spent time with my family and kids, and I took about a week off, and then I came right back. I knew I had to do something different. It bothered me, because I let my left hand down for a second, and that’s what happened to me.”
Ortiz says he knows Flores is about his height (6-4), he says he knows Flores is right-handed, and he says he knows Flores is in his way of winning a heavyweight title. Ortiz stressed his attitude has not changed. But he will be physically different.
“ I don’t care whoever they put in front of me..I’ll continue to knock them down. ” Heavyweight Contender - Luis Ortiz
The years’ time off has helped him. The COVID-19 pandemic forced him to stay away from the gym, so the little things that ached him have healed. Caicedo and Team Ortiz has instituted a new physical-conditioning trainer, Jukka Toivola, who has reshaped Ortiz, who came in at 236½ pounds for Wilder, the lightest Ortiz had been in five years.
Caicedo promised Ortiz will be around 240 pounds, though he’ll look much leaner and have greater endurance.
Toivola had Ortiz doing balance work, doing drills like closing his eyes while standing on one leg. Ortiz gave Toivola the one-raised eyebrow crazy look, wondering what he was doing.
It took some time for Ortiz to trust Toivola, and through time, he began demanding the balance drills in every session.
“I think his greater balance makes Luis that much more dangerous,” Caicedo said. “Luis has great punching power, but he’s much more well centered than he’s ever been. It makes his punching power that much more impactful. Luis will buy into anything, if he sees something works.
“He’s better underneath himself, with is a dangerous combination for a power-puncher like Luis. We’re really looking forward to this fight. Luis has been dialed since the Wilder loss. He’s been dialed in with his nutrition and his conditioning. He never did two- or three-a-days. He does now.”
Ortiz himself feels different.
“I feel lighter on my feet,” Ortiz said. “I’m still coming for blood. But I do feel more refreshed. I’ve been someone committed to the gym for the last seven years. I didn’t miss a day. I don’t remember too much from the March to June shutdown (laughs). I have three crazy, little kids running around, and that’s a lot to keep up with.
“I loved every second of it. It’s been hard, but I’m very grateful for being able to come back. I’ve lived worse. I came to the United States when I was 29, 30, when no one knew anything about me, or was willing to give me a chance. I slept in the back of abandoned cars with rain and mosquitos. I know what it’s like to be out there with nothing.
“My daughter is sick (she has a rare skin condition called epidermolysis bullosa). That’s the worst, and I live it every day. So, just getting back and fighting again, knowing it helps my daughter, motivates me.”
Then, Ortiz stopped in mid-sentence for a moment. Then, from a distance, you hear laughter. King Kong just leapt out on a Fed-Ex delivery guy with the grizzly growl. The delivery man laughed, but Ortiz noted that he is not joking anymore with the heavyweight division.
“The doubters and the haters can laugh, I don’t care,” Ortiz said. “I don’t care whoever they put in front of me, I’ll continue to fight them and I’ll continue to knock them down. I don’t need to prove myself anymore.”
For a closer look at Luis Ortiz, check out his fighter page.