The sizzle that was Deontay Wilder V Luiz Ortiz, expected to produce Grade A beef in the ring on November 4 @ Barclays Center in Brooklyn, is dangerously close to being off the menu. What the fuck happened?
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Sorry for being a little gratuitous with the F-bomb folks, but I'm sure quite a few of them are dropping from the executive offices of the WBC, SHOWTIME, DiBella Entertainment and Barclays Center as we speak. Besides, you sat through all of the Mayweather V MacGregor press events. You'll be alright.
Early Friday morning, ESPN Senior Boxing Writer Dan Rafael reported that promoter Lou DiBella informed him over the phone on Thursday night that Luis “King Kong” Ortiz (27-0, 23KOs), the much feared heavyweight menace from Cuba, failed a VADA issued drug test just 5 weeks ahead of his showdown with WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (38-0, 37KOs).
We don't like the idea of Kong being drugged off of the Empire State Building instead of collapsing due to the force of the “Bomb Squad”, especially when Ortiz indicated all systems were go via conference call during the September 20 presser at the Dream Hotel in New York. He said some nice things about Wilder before assuring him that he ‘fucked up this time', to which Wilder, fully conscious of Ortiz's past infractions, offered a cryptic response.
“Stay clean, because we'll be checking,” Wilder told Ortiz. “Stay clean. Don't fuck this up for me, nor you, because I'm gonna prove to the world that I am the best.”
Ortiz then pounded the keyboard a few more times to fire shots from Twitterville, explaining the non-performance enhancing nature of the blood pressure medication Losartan and how its being used as an excuse to protect the thin resume of Wilder. He urged all of us in his tweets to ‘check blood pressure meds on you own online' and to not ‘let them use this as excuse to stop fight'.
Wilder has been critical of the American media for its negative portrayal and/or outright betrayal of him, so this is a conundrum of sorts, in ways athletic and geo-political. There are those oriented to conspiracy who believe Ortiz would indeed win, therefore bringing the biggest belt in boxing back to Cuba in an already tense Washington. No other champion in the sport is in the dual position of needing/wanting a validation of greatness more than Wilder. I got the sense in watching Deontay, both before and after he spoke at the press conference, that he has absolutely no fear of Ortiz (rumored by some to really be around 45, with a birth certificate as questionable as his PED use) and desperately wants this fight.
Despite what's been reported, Wilder should fight like hell with whoever he needs to, in order to go to war with Ortiz as planned. Let me explain.
The only other heavyweight title fight of epic proportion in 2017 occurred in April featuring IBF champion Anthony Joshua V Wladimir Klitschko. In a tremendous, give and take action fight widely seen around the world, Joshua mounted a late rally to KO a valiant Klitschko in the 11th round to be seen as the true heavyweight champion, despite Wilder's WBC title and scary record. But virtually anyone would agree that Ortiz, in 2017, is the greater threat to another heavyweight's health than Klitschko. So, if Wilder were to defeat a monster like Ortiz – in the devastating fashion that he says he would – then two things would happen:
1. To hell with the whole Lineal and RING champion bullshit. We don't care. Wilder would receive universal recognition as the American media's #1 heavyweight in the world. So let him have his blood pressure medication, he can take it in the dressing room again after getting KTFO.
2. At 39-0 with 38KOs, it would be difficult to not make Wilder the favorite in a bout between himself and Anthony Joshua for ultimate supremacy. The Bronze Bomber and naturally powerful product from Tuscaloosa, AL (They ARE naturally strong. I spent part of the summer in South Central LA with a chiseled 6'4, 240lb childhood friend from AL who has never lifted weights in his life), could even conceivably force Joshua to bring his ass to Brooklyn. We definitely want that fight at Barclays Center! In our eyes, we'd have ourselves a fully proven WBC heavyweight champion and stand behind him 100%.
It'll be interesting to see what Stephen Espinoza, Showtime Exec VP of Sports, and Barclays Center brass does over the weekend. I know Lou DiBella wants this fight just as badly as Wilder does, and anything less than Wilder V Ortiz will be a letdown. The only other alternative that might fly is a telephone call to a ready to fight Dillian Whyte, total livewire from the UK who gave Joshua hell in his only loss. There is also no love lost between Whyte and Wilder. Pretty sure promoter Eddie Hearn would be willing to fill in a huge blank caused by the absence of Kong.