Top heavyweight Luis “King Kong” Ortiz scored a sixth-round TKO of former heavyweight champion Charles Martin in a dramatic IBF Heavyweight Title Eliminator showdown that headlined a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View Saturday night from Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
In a back and forth battle that topped a five-fight all-heavyweight pay-per-view, Ortiz (33-2, 28 KOs) recovered from two knockdowns to earn the TKO over the former heavyweight titleholder Martin (28-3-1, 25 KOs). The fight got off to a hot start in round one, with Martin landing a bruising left hand to the side of Ortiz’s head that sent him down late in the frame.
While Ortiz was able to regain his composure and do effective body work and snap his jab, Martin struck once again at the end of round four, landing a hard jab with his right hand that put Ortiz down for the second time in the fight.
“I was very focused during this fight,” said Ortiz. “I was never worried. My trainer just told me to keep working the jab and that’s what I was able to do.”
In a battle of gargantuan southpaws, Ortiz landed the left hand that ultimately decided the fight, connecting on a counter early in round six that immediately dazed Martin, who looked potentially out on his feet. Ortiz quickly followed up with a flurry and scored the knockdown, leaving Martin with his glove tied up in the ropes.
“It was very difficult going southpaw against southpaw,” said Ortiz. “At the end of the day, my intelligence won the fight.”
Martin was able to rise to his feet and looked to hold on with over two minutes left in the round, but Ortiz was relentless in his attack and eventually forced referee Frank Santore Jr. to wave off the bout 1:37 into round six. Despite trailing on all three scorecards coming into the final round, Ortiz landed an impressive 57 percent of his power punches in the fight, including 19 of 23 in round six, according to CompuBox.
“I maintained faith the entire time,” said Ortiz. “I knew I had my family and these fans behind me. I told everyone that this fight would be fireworks. He knocked me down, but then I finished him. I respect him a lot and now I’m coming after every heavyweight in line for the title.”
Photos from Ryan Hafey/
Premier Boxing Champions
The new year will kick off with a heavyweight bang, as five exciting heavyweight matchups take center stage on a jam-packed FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View on New Year’s Day live from Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
The main event will see top heavyweight Luis “King Kong” Ortiz take on former world champion Charles Martin in a 12-round IBF Heavyweight Title Eliminator. In the co-main event, unbeaten rising heavyweight star Frank “The Cuban Flash” Sanchez will square off against Puerto Rican Olympian Carlos Negron in a 10-round attraction.
The pay-per-view telecast begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and will also see heavyweight contenders Jonnie Rice and Michael Coffie battle in a 10-round rematch, former title challenger Gerald “El Gallo Negro” Washington in a 10-round showdown against Turkish Olympian Ali Eren Demirezen and unbeaten Viktor Faust facing Iago Kiladze in a 10-round attraction to open the pay-per-view.
With exceptional power and sublime technical skills, Ortiz (32-2, 27 KOs) has been a fixture atop heavyweight rankings for years, with his only defeats coming in memorable contests against former longtime heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. Born in Camaguey, Cuba and trained by longtime coach Herman Caicedo in Miami, Ortiz won three bouts between Wilder contests, defeating Travis Kauffman, Christian Hammer and Razvan Cojanu. Prior to that run, Ortiz picked up victories over the likes of Bryant Jennings, Tony Thompson and Malik Scott to build up his heavyweight resume. Most recently, Ortiz blasted out Alexander Flores in the first round of their November 2020 bout.
“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,” said Ortiz. “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 I’m feared by the heavyweight division.”
The 35-year-old Martin (28-2-1, 25 KOs) became heavyweight champion in January 2016 when he won by TKO against then unbeaten Vyacheslav Glazkov. After losing his title to Anthony Joshua, Martin has won five of his last six fights, with all of his wins coming inside the distance. Originally from St. Louis, now living in Las Vegas and currently training in Southern California with Manny Robles, Martin bounced back from a narrow decision defeat to Adam Kownacki in 2018 to earn three-straight victories, including most recently knocking out Gerald Washington in February 2020.
“Nobody wants to fight me and nobody wants to fight Ortiz, so we’ll fight each other,” said Martin. “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. In order to become two-time heavyweight champion, I have to get past Ortiz first, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
An amateur standout from his native Cuba, Sánchez (19-0, 13 KOs) now trains in San Diego with top trainer Eddy Reynoso. The 29-year-old has stayed busy on his rise up the heavyweight rankings, scoring three victories in 2020 as he earned a unanimous decision over Joey Dawejko and stopped Brian Howard and Julian Fernandez. Sanchez most recently scored a career-best win in October, dropping previously unbeaten Efe Ajagba on his way to a unanimous decision victory.
“I’m happy to be back so soon after beating Agjaba, but the work is only beginning,” said Sanchez. “There’s much more to be done. I believe I will be the first heavyweight champion in Cuban history. Negron is a strong, dangerous opponent. I’ll have to be my best, but I’m confident that I will come out victorious. I believe in my team, and my team believes in me. We’ll start the New Year off getting to 20-0, remain busy and make a strong case for a world title by year’s end.”
The 2008 Puerto Rican Olympian Negron (25-3, 20 KOs) rides a five-fight winning streak into January 1, including four wins by stoppage. The 34-year-old bounced back from defeats to Dominic Breazeale and Brian Howard to put together his win streak, which includes a March 2020 knockout over previously unbeaten Robert Alfonso. Negron has fought professionally since 2009 and now lives in Miami where he trains alongside Luis Ortiz.
“This is a great opportunity for me to get a win over a strong up-and-coming fighter and show everyone what I’m capable of,” said Negron. “I’m training hard and I’ve had great sparring in order to be ready for anything that Sanchez is going to bring. My experience and preparation are going to be the difference. I’m extremely motivated to give the fans a great fight and put myself in position to get a world title opportunity.”
Born in South Carolina and now fighting out of Los Angeles, Rice (14-6-1, 10 KOs) will look to repeat a career-best performance in the rematch against Coffie, after he stopped the previously unbeaten fighter in the fifth-round in July. Rice won six of seven fights from 2018 through 2019 before a pair of losses in 2020 against then unbeatens Efe Ajagba and Demsey McKean. In a pro career that dates back to 2014, the blemishes on Rice’s records have all come against previously unbeaten fighters.
“In my last fight against Coffie, I went in there to prove myself and do what I had been training to do,” said Rice. “It was sink or swim, and I came out on top. Now I have to go out there on January 1 and show that it wasn’t a fluke. This is a great stage for me to display my talents and prove that I’m capable of big things. I’m looking to give the fans a great performance and I know that Coffie is doing the same. Don’t miss this fight.”
Coffie (12-1, 9 KOs) hopes to bounce back from his first career defeat after dropping the first matchup against Rice in July. A Marine Corps veteran who picked up boxing after returning from overseas, Coffie quickly impressed in amateur tournaments enough to earn sparring assignments with Deontay Wilder and Adam Kownacki. He was born in the Bronx, but now trains in Orlando, Florida and broke through in 2020 with three dominating stoppage victories, including knockouts over previously unbeaten opponents Darmani Rock and Luis Pena.
“I want to get it back and make it an actual fight this time against Jonny Rice,” said Coffie. “Last time, I was in a position where I faced some adversity, and I had to make a decision to go through with the fight. I know that I can fight through adversity, and on January 1, I will be ready for whatever way the fight goes. On January 1, there will be a fight.”
Washington (20-4-1, 13 KOs) is a six-foot-six heavyweight contender who was a former college football standout at the University of Southern California and a U.S. Navy veteran. Born in San Jose, California, Washington most recently lost a contest against former heavyweight champion Charles Martin in February 2020. Prior to that fight, Washington had delivered a knockout of veteran contender Robert Helenius in July 2019. Washington was unbeaten in his first 19 pro fights before dropping his world title challenge to Deontay Wilder in February 2017.
“I’m looking forward to stepping back in the ring on January 1,” said Washington. “I’m ready to go to work and get myself back in position for some big time fights. My experience is going to be the difference in this fight. It’s going to be a great night of heavyweight action!”
A 2016 Olympian for Turkey, Demirezen (14-1, 11 KOs) has fought out of Hamburg, Germany in the professional ranks since turning pro in late 2016. The 31-year-old won his first 11 pro fights, including a second round stoppage of Rad Rashid to capture a European heavyweight title in 2018. Demirezen made his only other U.S. start in 2019, when he became the first person to go the distance against Efe Ajagba, losing by decision. Since that defeat, Demirezen has scored three-straight victories, most recently stopping Nikola Milacic in March.
“I learned a lot from my loss to Ajagba and I’m looking forward to getting another chance to box in the U.S.,” said Demirezen. “I’m still angry about the Ajagba fight, because I know that I could have won. I want to show now that I belong on this stage. I’m proud to be in this position to show what I can do and I’m going to make the most of the opportunity.”
The 29-year-old Faust (8-0, 6 KOs) turned pro in February 2020 after an extensive amateur career fighting out of his native Svitlovodsk, Ukraine. Faust knocked out his first four opponents, before winning dominant six and eight round decisions. After a first round knockout over previously unbeaten Jacek Piatek in May, Faust made his U.S. debut in October, dropping Mike Marshall twice on his way to a third-round TKO victory.
“I’m really excited to be back fighting in the U.S. again on January 1,” said Faust. “I’ve been welcomed warmly and fighting stateside already feels like my living room. I love the atmosphere. This is a great chance to show myself on this pay-per-view show against a very high-quality opponent. I won’t disappoint fans when I step into the ring.”
Kiladze (27-5-1, 19 KOs) returned to the win column in September, with a knockout victory over Mathew McKinney. Since he began fighting stateside full time in 2017, Kiladze’s losses have come against top heavyweights Adam Kownacki, Michael Hunter, Efe Ajagba and Joe Joyce, who sported a combined 45-1 record heading into their matchups against Kiladze. Originally from Georgia and now fighting out of Los Angeles, Kiladze owns a 2019 draw against then unbeaten Robert Alfonso and won six straight fights between 2014 and 2018.
Alexander “The Great” Flores previewed his showdown against top heavyweight contender Luis “King Kong” Ortiz on a media conference call Tuesday, before they headline FOX PBC Fight Night and on FOX Deportes this Saturday, November 7 from Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
The broadcast begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and will see rising unbeaten heavyweight contender Frank “The Cuban Flash” Sánchez battle Brian Howard in the 10-round co-main event. Plus, undefeated Michael Coffie steps in to face hard-hitting Joey Abell in an eight-round heavyweight duel.
The event will be promoted by TGB Promotions and will take place without fans in attendance at the Microsoft Theater, an AEG venue, in downtown Los Angeles.
Here is what Flores had to say Tuesday about training camp, his matchup with Ortiz, both of their places in the heavyweight division and more:
“Training camp has been going really well. I’m always in shape year around. We were already aiming for a November fight, so when this fight against Ortiz presented itself, we jumped on it. We’re ready to take advantage of this opportunity.
“I got the call about Ortiz over six weeks ago. I just had to adjust to southpaw sparring but everything else kept going smoothly. It was tough to find sparring during the pandemic, but I was blessed to find some great quality southpaws to work with.
“Ortiz is a great fighter. He’s still one of the most feared men in the division. A lot of the people on his level don’t want to fight him. His only losses coming against Deontay Wilder says everything about his quality.
“Whenever you fight at that caliber that Ortiz has been at, I know you’re going to know what you need to do in training. But, the older you get, the harder it is to recover. It doesn’t get easier. Maybe his age will show up Saturday night.
“I thought Ortiz was beating Wilder in the second fight. I think he just relaxed at the 10 second mark and got caught with that straight right hand at the end of the round.
“I do think it’s possible I’m being overlooked by Ortiz. I’m just focused on what I can control. I know that one day I might not get these opportunities anymore, so I have to jump all over this one.
“Beating Ortiz will put me up with the top heavyweights. I think a win is going to definitely lead to a world title fight sooner rather than later.
“I’m expecting the best Luis Ortiz on Saturday night. I’m preparing for the same guy who was beating Deontay Wilder twice.”
“My opponent has to be perfect for 12 rounds, and I only have to be perfect for one second,” Wilder said on Wednesday.
The rematch was a lot like the first one. Luis Ortiz was in complete control of the fight as he was dominating Wilder for the first six rounds, but just as Wilder said on Wednesday, he only has to be perfect for one second. Wilder needed one punch to knock out Ortiz in the seventh round of their rematch Saturday night from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
In the first fight, Ortiz had Wilder in serious trouble in round 7, and he had control of that fight, but in the end, and just like he did on Saturday night, Wilder found a way to get it done.
“This is boxing,” said Ortiz. “I said that one of us was going to get knocked out and it wasn’t going to go 12 rounds. I was clear-headed when I hit the canvas. When I heard the referee say seven, I was trying to get up, but I guess the count went a little quicker than I thought.
“This was a great fight, and I thought I was clearly winning,” continued Ortiz. “I got caught with a big shot, and I have to give Deontay Wilder a lot of credit. I knew my movement was giving him problems. I landed some big shots, and I thought I had him hurt. I thought I was up by the count and could have continued.”
In the ring following the fight, the 40-year-old Ortiz asserted that he would continue his quest for a heavyweight championship.
“Deontay showed great will, and I’m not ashamed with my performance,” said Ortiz. “I know I can beat anyone in the heavyweight division. My career is not over. I’m going to work my way back into a big fight.”
Ortiz can beat any heavyweight in boxing, except for Wilder. Unfortunately, many may continue to avoid a southpaw with skill and power.
Photo: Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions
WBC Heavyweight World Champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder continued his title reign with a one-punch knockout victory over Luis “King Kong” Ortiz in the seventh round of their rematch Saturday night that headlined a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Wilder made his 10th consecutive successful title defense, tying him with Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Larry Holmes, Tommy Burns and Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko as the only heavyweight champions to achieve that feat.
In a rematch of their epic 2018 fight that saw Wilder rally back from nearly being stopped to knock out Ortiz in round 10, the fight again saw both men hold the momentum of the fight at different times.
Ortiz controlled much of the action of the fight as he sought to become the first Cuban heavyweight champion in history. Wilder was not very active in the early rounds, while Ortiz was able to effectively jab, move and throw overhand lefts to rack up rounds on the scorecard.
“With Ortiz, you can see why no other heavyweight wants to fight him,” said Wilder. “He’s very crafty, he moves strategically and his intellect is very high. I had to measure him in certain places.”
Much of Wilder’s attack throughout the first six rounds was centered on his jab and a sweeping left hook that didn’t seem to land cleanly until early in round seven. With the seventh round waning, Wilder used a feint and a straight right cross to put Ortiz down, the first time he had been hurt at all in the fight.
“I had to go in and out, and finally, I found my measurement,” said Wilder. “I saw the shot, and I took it. My intellect is very high in the ring, and no one gives me credit for me. I think I buzzed him with a left hook earlier in the round, and I took it from there.”
Ortiz led on all three scorecards, by margins of 58-56 and 59-55 twice. While Ortiz was able to get to his feet, referee Kenny Bayless waived off the bout at 2:51 into the seventh round. Ortiz led on all three scorecards, by margins of 58-56 and 59-55 twice.
After the fight, Wilder told FOX Sports’ Heidi Androl that his goal is to unify the heavyweight division and become undisputed champion.
“Next, we have Tyson Fury in the rematch,” said Wilder.” It’s scheduled for February, so we’ll see. Then, I want unification. I want one champion, one face and one heavyweight champion – Deontay Wilder. The heavyweight division is too small, there should be one champion and it’s Deontay Wilder.”
Photo: Stephanie Trapp/TGB Promotions
Much has been made of how in shape heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz(31-1, 26 KOs) is as he gets ready to battle WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder(41-0-1, 40 KOs) on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
The 40-year-old Ortiz is hoping to avenge his only loss in this fight. The last time these two men fought back in 2018, Wilder was able to stop Ortiz in 10. However, according to Ortiz, that stoppage was a byproduct of him being tired.