By: Hans Themistode
Heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz was minding his business. The Cuban native just finished unwrapping presents with his children for Christmas and enjoyed watching their faces light up with excitement. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Ortiz received a present of his own as fellow contender Dillian Whyte brought up the possibility of facing him in the first half of 2021. From there, Ortiz frantically reached for his phone and started dialing numbers.
“I heard my name and I got excited,” said Ortiz during a recent interview with Boxingscene. “I called my manager, my coach, and (Al) Haymon to ask if there’s a possibility so I’m waiting patiently.”
Whyte’s interest in a showdown with Ortiz (32-2, 27 KOs) stems from his failed attempts to drag current WBC interim titlist Alexander Povetkin back into the ring with him. In late August, Whyte was riding high from an 11 fight win streak that dated back to 2015. With his persistent call outs to fight for a world title, WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman assured Whyte that as long as he got past Alexander Povetkin, that his wish would be granted.
Things started off well for Whyte as he outboxed his man during the first three rounds before dropping him twice in the fourth. As the bell rang to kick off the fifth, Whyte (27-2, 18 KOs) seemed to be on track to stopping Povetkin and securing his title shot. Unfortunately for Whyte however, Povetkin had other plans as he scored a devastating left uppercut that immediately left Whyte unconscious before his head bounced off the canvas.
Since then, Whyte enacted his rematch clause. Part two between them was set to take place in late November until Povetkin informed team Whyte that he contracted COVID-19. Unlike most athletes who have had a quick and successful turnaround from the virus, Povetkin, 41, is said to be dealing with issues with his lungs.
Whyte took the time to sympathize with his opponent and urged him not to rush back. In the meanwhile, as he awaits Povetkin to receive the green light, Whyte called for a matchup with Ortiz.
“They keep saying that he’s sick so they keep delaying it,” said Whyte on Toe 2 Toe podcast. “Okay that’s fine, I want you to be at your best when I fight you so I’ll tell you what. Have as much time as you want. Let me fight Luis Ortiz in February then I’ll fight Povetkin later in the year.”
For Ortiz, he’s spent a mere 45 seconds inside of the ring this year. After taking some time to recover after his one-punch knockout loss at the hands of Deontay Wilder in November of 2019, Ortiz returned this past November against fringe contender Alexander Flores. Ortiz wasted no time in flooring his man with a body shot in the first round.
Following the win, Ortiz told reporters that he would love to make a quick turn around since he sustained no injuries or damage in the bout. Originally, Ortiz was believed to be eyeing a showdown with former heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr., however, with Whyte naming him as a possible opponent, Ortiz is now shifting his focus.
“Look, I think me and Whyte would be a good fight. I think our fans would love it and I would love to jump in there with him and stand toe to toe with him and exchange some blows. If he’s available and willing – I’m available and ready.”