Fightful Boxing Newsletter (11/22/19) Table Of Contents:
- Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz 2 Preview (Page 1)
- Latest On Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.'s Suspension (Page 2)
- Latest On WBO Cruiserweight & Junior Middleweight Titles (Page 3)
- News And Notes From Around The World Of Boxing (Page 4)
- Fightful Boxing Rankings (Pages 5-6)
Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz 2 Preview:
Though some may argue that the Andy Ruiz Jr. vs. Anthony Joshua rematch in Saudi Arabia next month is the biggest heavyweight title rematch in years, Deontay Wilder’s second go at Luis Ortiz on November 23 carries significant weight for the future of both men.
The two engaged in a great fight back in March 2018 which saw Wilder get hurt by Ortiz in the middle of the fight before Wilder stopped Ortiz in the 10th round to retain the WBC heavyweight title. Now both men will run it back once more in the main event of a PBC on FOX pay-per-view from Las Vegas.
It seemed like Wilder was done with Ortiz, but even after scoring a TKO win, Wilder somehow knew that a rematch between the two would happen eventually.
"After that fight I felt like I wanted to run it back. It was such a great fight, I definitely wanted to run that one back with him. There was a moment in time where I felt like there was a part of me proving myself as a heavyweight champion. Everybody has got their own different opponents that they look and say okay, I believe him. He is the real deal. I think with Ortiz it opened up a lot of people's eyes. I know for a fact it opened up a lot of people's eyes and it allowed a lot of the haters or the doubters I will say, it silenced the doubters and it made them a big fan of mine," Wilder told Fightful in a recent media call.
The one thing to follow throughout this rematch is how Ortiz’s body will perform in the fight. Ortiz has completely revamped his body, hiring a nutritionist and trimming a lot of fat and turning it into muscle. Just by looking at pictures of him during workout, he’s probably in the best shape he’s been heading into a fight in a long time. From a weight perspective, he figures to be at around the same weight range he normally comes in, but the body will look vastly different.
It’s possible that this leaner version of Ortiz will be faster and possibly have more stamina this time around, but it won’t really matter if he still has issues handling Wilder’s power. At this point, it’s really more of an inevitability that Wilder will land that right hand to send Ortiz to the canvas. The question has been, and always will be, can Ortiz hurt Wilder once more and finish the job before Wilder’s power breaks him down.
Looking at the first fight between the two, it’s easy to understand why some could feel tempted to pick Ortiz to pull off the upset. While he may look good in the workout videos, one can’t deny that Ortiz has looked a tad bit slower in some of his fights after the first Wilder loss. His most recent bout, a unanimous decision win against Christian Hammer back in March, didn’t seem to give much of an impression that Ortiz is still the same fighter that nearly shocked the world in 2018.
There will be plenty of ramifications in the heavyweight division depending on what happens on Saturday night. Obviously, if Wilder wins, then the rematch against Tyson Fury is all but guaranteed. Although February 22 is still the date that Fury has thrown around for months, nothing is set in stone yet. Wilder vs. Fury 2 has been something many people had hoped to see at some point in 2019, but Fury’s team and ESPN opted to give him more fights in the United States to build his profile as a rising star to make the rematch against Wilder even bigger. Whether or not it ultimately worked remains to be seen.
A loss for Ortiz might effectively be it for him as far as his career is concerned. He’s in his 40s, has had multiple seven-figure bouts and fought for the WBC heavyweight title twice. Ortiz may opt to fight a little more to keep getting money for his daughter's treatment for a rare skin condition called epidermolysis bullosa, but as far as world title prospects are concerned, this may very well be his last opportunity.
But if Ortiz were to pull off the upset, it would be nearly at a Ruiz beating Joshua levels of shocking, and would effectively ruin the luster that would have been the Wilder vs. Fury rematch. It would be an incredible feat and Ortiz as the WBC champion could change the landscape of the division, at least in the short term. A win for Ortiz would almost definitely mean a rubber match is coming and that could potentially be a massive win for FOX on the pay-per-view buyrates (assuming FOX would also carry that fight).
Regardless, given how both men squared off in one of the most dramatic heavyweight fights of 2018, it’s safe to assume that people are going to be in for another bonafide modern heavyweight classic.
The pay-per-view undercard itself may be just as intriguing as the main event.
The opening bout is a bantamweight fight between former world champions Luis Nery and Emmanuel Rodriguez. On paper, it's more than likely going to end up being the best fight in the four-bout main card. Nery is a strong, aggressive puncher while Rodriguez does a very good job attacking the body with the left hook.
Though no titles are at stake, an opportunity to fight WBC champion Nordine Oubaali may very well be on the line. Nery already has that opportunity secured based on a ruling from the WBC in October, but it would be nearly impossible to justify giving him a title shot if Rodriguez ends up winning.
This fight will serve nothing but to further complete the bantamweight title puzzle. As it stands, the top four bantamweights today are Nery, Oubaali, Naoya Inoue and Zolani Tete. Although it’s hard to tell if there will ever come a point where all four will face each other at some point to ultimately crown an undisputed bantamweight champion, but the biggest fight in the division remains Inoue vs. Nery as it has been for a year. A win over Nery and then Oubaali would potentially make way for a borderline superfight against Inoue in late 2020 at the earliest.
The co-main event will feature Leo Santa Cruz attempting to win a title in four different weight classes when he takes on Miguel Flores for the vacant WBA “Super” super featherweight title. The WBA "Super" version of the title was vacated by Gervonta Davis recently, temporarily leaving "Regular" champion Andrew Cancio as the sole WBA champion at 130 pounds. But with all things, the WBA couldn’t help itself but further complicate everything and add another unnecessary “world” title. The fight between Santa Cruz and Flores was originally supposed to take place in February for Santa Cruz’s featherweight title but Flores suffered an injury weeks before the bout and had to withdraw. Santa Cruz ended up facing Rafael Rivera and won the fight by unanimous decision.
While Santa Cruz had always aimed to become a quadruple divisional champion, the one disappointing thing about him is the fact that, once again, a fight against Gary Russell Jr. was not made despite PBC hinting at it for roughly two years. That fight can always be revisited if Santa Cruz wins, but there’s no reason to believe we are any closer to seeing a Santa Cruz-Russell fight than we were a year ago. Santa Cruz moving to super featherweight could have also been an attempt to secure a fight against Davis, but that also seems unlikely now that Davis is a lightweight and going back to super featherweight would be difficult. Davis has had problems making weight at 130 pounds in the past, so going back to that weight seems too much trouble to be worth it.
Still, it’s hard to deny Santa Cruz’s desire to want to be remembered as an all-time great. He’s won multiple world titles, has had great fights against the likes of Carl Frampton and Abner Mares and has been arguably the most skillful featherweight of the past 18 months. A win over Flores would give Santa Cruz the leverage needed to secure big fights moving forward even if it isn’t against Davis or Russell. With the super featherweight division getting a much needed shot in the arm with the emergence of Cancio, Shakur Stevenson and Jamel Herring as top names, Santa Cruz is a welcome addition to the 130-pound division.
Lastly, Brandon Figueroa, one of the fastest-rising contenders at super bantamweight, will be defending his WBA “Regular” super bantamweight title against Julio Ceja, who is coming off two straight losses. Figueroa, who has won all three of his fights in 2019 inside the distance, previously held the interim WBA title but was elevated to "Regular" titleholder recently. In his last fight, Figueroa defeated Javier Nicolas Chacon by fourth-round KO in the main event of a PBC on FS1 card back in August.
Ceja has lost three of his last five fights, including his last two bouts. His most recent outing was against former world champion Guillermo Rigondeaux in a title eliminator but Ceja was stopped at the end of the eighth round. Despite the stoppage, Ceja was ahead on all three scorecards.
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