This truly did look like it could be last call for heavyweight Luis Ortiz, who looked 42 going on 52 as he got sent to the canvas twice by Charles Martin on Saturday night in Florida, in the main event of a FOX PPV show. But the old pro stayed cool, he didn't panic, didn't crumble, and he went to work in round six at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood.
Luis Ortiz, a Cuban native, had fought just a single round in two years, and yes, he looked close to washed. But his big left hand is still something to be feared; Ortiz dropped fellow lefty Martin in the sixth, and the St Louis boxer had to get help to get his stuck glove out between the top two ring ropes. Ortiz knows how to finish, he then flurried hard at the 35 year old Martin, who weathered some of the storm but then got sent to the mat again. He rose, showing admirable heart, but the ref saw his boozy legs wobble and his unfocused eyes, and called a halt to the proceeding at 1:37 of the sixth.
An overhand left after a jab backed up Martin and sent the loser to the floor. He did get extra time because of the glove snafu. Then the flurrying–Luis Ortiz (now 33-2 with 28 KOs) went to the body, then head, then body, he wasted not a bit of time because he knew this was his moment to finish the matter. It was mostly fatigue and the accumulation of blows which put Martin (now 28-3-1) on the floor for the second and final time.
Now, for real, Luis Ortiz did look on last legs, to a degree, before his round six savagery played out. A jab sent the Florida based heavyweight to the floor in round four. That came after a first round which had jaws dropping, when Martin landed a left on the side of the head, which had Ortiz hit the deck.
He was down points after round five, and trainer Herman Caicedo didn't panic. He asked “King Kong” to keep jabbing, told him he liked his work in the fifth, and his calm coolness helped the fighter stay right mentally.
After the triumph, 2 in the ring.
There were tears of relief shed, and he told them it's all in a night's work. Luis Ortiz told Ray Flores that “intelligence won this fight.” Also, “I was very focused during this fight. I was never worried. My trainer just told me to keep working the jab and that's what I was able to do. I maintained faith the entire time. 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.”
I don't want that perception to stain Martin, who has showed admirable grit in soldiering on after getting blasted out by Anthony Joshua in his first IBF crown defense 2016; he was fit, trim and dialed in for five rounds on this night.
And for Luis Ortiz, what's next? It could be the last call, it's clear his legs and chin have seen better days. But any foe best be ready to stay alert, because his power remains.
The all-heavyweight festivities began on a high note, with a shootout featuring Iago Kiladze versus Viktor Faust, a 29 year old Ukrainian prospect. They took turns sending each other to the floor, and tallied two knocks each…until Faust, a 9-0 Ukrainian, felled the 35 year old Kiladze (now 27-6-1, all six losses by stoppage) from Georgia (not the US one) again.
The ref thought he was in no shape to continue, and the loser took umbrage, shoving him. For the record, Kiladze hit the deck twice in the first, Faust once in the first and again in the second, before he closed the showcase.
Ali Demirezen went to 15-1 with a TKO effort against Gerald Washington, who looked gassed out pretty early on. The 39 year old Washington, from CA, is now 20-5-1; he is 1-4 in his last five, having lost to Adam Kownacki, Charles Martin and now the 31 years old Turk.
Buddy McGirt in the Washington corner saw the big lad huffing and puffing and then offering bad body language while taking clean shots, and at the start of the eighth, he asked the Florida inspector to tell the ref to end it.
RICE TRUMPS COFFIE AGAIN
Jonnie Rice (15-6-1; living in Cali) showed up 15 pounds heavier for his rematch, at 284 pounds, with Michael Coffie, so many watchers came in thinking that Coffie would get revenge for the L he took in July, when Rice scored a round five TKO in New Jersey on a PBC event. But no, Coffie (12-2; living in Florida), age 35, came out curiously flat.
The man from South Carolina wasn't the busiest, his activity rate was less than his summer upset special, but it was enough, because his long right hand proved damaging once again.
The bout went the distance, and that's credit to the toughness of Coffie, who said after that his left eye swelling hurt his vision measurably. Rice gave one of the best post-win interviews we've seen lately–he told Ray Flores that he has his mom to thank, because she gave him motivation with her upbeat talk. He also promised to give her a grand-baby, but admitted he has no prospect for that outcome at the moment.
And, he thanked Al Haymon, for what he is hoping will be a six figure fight his next time out.
TO BE FRANK….
Frank Sanchez got the W by ultra unanimous decision, but this fight was a snoozer. The Cuban, listed at 29 years old, acted too deferential to Christian Hammer, who got the call real late, when Carlos Negron tested Covid positive.
Anyone lauding Hammer, for showing up just to go the ten-round distance, and not trying to win, needs to reconsider. And anyone encouraging Sanchez to stay this way, cautious and cute, well, they aren't thinking about the wellness of the sport, or advocating for themselves as consumers, because that was no way to spend 40 minutes of ones' life. I say that for myself, who is on day four of being COVID positive, and ran to the bathroom to throw up after the second fight, because of Omicron nauseous and for all y'all as well.
Sanchez (20-0) has some skills, but he best listen to Eddy Reynoso next camp and follow guidance, because his style won't draw fans to a building, or to a screen. Reynoso asked for more body work and volume, and pound for pound ace Canelo, in the building to root on Sanchez, yelled for the winner to attack that body. Sanchez, dude, you should listen to Reynoso, but you HAVE TO listen to Canelo!
And the 34 year old Romanian/German Hammer (26-9), OK, he was a late fill in. But boxing fans should be able to rely on this basic: that fighters do their best to try and win. That's not too much to ask for, it's not a greedy wish.