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Luis Ortiz wants to cap 2018 with a statement then aim for the best

Photo by Ryan Loco / SHOWTIME
Fighters Network

MIAMI, Florida – For heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz there is no stopping. It’s almost midnight on November 15. After a long day of training, which included a media workout, and a Q&A session, Ortiz goes for a long run. Fight night was only two weeks away, and he understood the special opportunity to show the world why he’s considered one of the best big men in the sport.

“I know that anytime I can go out and fight my perfect fight, it opens up another opportunity for me,” Ortiz told The Ring.

On December 1, The Ring’s No. 3-rated heavyweight will fight for the third time in 2018 when he takes on Travis Kauffman on the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury undercard at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

“This is huge for me,” Ortiz said. “That means people are keeping me in mind (by) putting me on this card.”

In today’s day in age it’s rare to see a world-class boxer fight three or more times in any given year, especially if the fighter is 39 years old. The 6-foot-3 southpaw, nicknamed “King Kong”, sees his activity as normal since he’s still a hungry fighter looking for another title shot.

“If they give me food, I’m going to eat,” Ortiz says. “If they give me the opportunity to fight, I’m going to take it. If my manager sets up a fight, I’m not going to say no. That’s why I’m a fighter, to fight.”

For Ortiz (29-1-2 NC, 25 KOs) it’s a more than perfect night to make a statement. Wilder, the main event fighter on the card, and the reigning WBC heavyweight titleholder, is coming off a hard-fought win against the Cuban fighter.

Ortiz has Wilder reeling. Photo by Amanda Wescott/SHOWTIME

That night in March, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Ortiz was seconds away from stopping Wilder. In the seventh round he had Wilder badly hurt, but time ran out his chances. Three rounds later Wilder stopped Ortiz after dropping him for the second and third time in the fight.

A couple of months after the loss to Wilder, Ortiz described the frustration as he thought back as to what could’ve been.

“I feel it in my skin, up and down my arms. I had him. I let it slip away,” Ortiz said then.

Eight months later Ortiz has had a chance to think back on the Wilder fight with a clearer head and knows that it was a performance that opened up a lot of eyes.

“I don’t feel defeated,” Ortiz said. “My hunger hasn’t subsided. It’s grown even bigger.”

Ortiz says Wilder cracks as hard as any heavyweight in the world, but other factors led to the lone loss of his career.

“All of us fighters can hit, and yes, Wilder does hit hard,” Ortiz said. “He landed some good shots that hurt me, but at the end of the day he didn’t knock me completely out. At the end of the fight I was very fatigued. Only my team, and those close to me know why, but all I could say is that it was just his night.”

Ortiz knows 2019 may present another chance to prove himself as the best heavyweight on the planet. It is also be the year when Ortiz turns 40. He feels great, and stays in shape, rarely ever taking time off between fights, but he knows many will look and point at that number and see it as a weakness.

Whether it’s a rematch with Wilder, a title fight against unified beltholder Anthony Joshua, or a battle of southpaws with cruiserweight champ Aleksandr Usyk, Ortiz says he’s ready for the challenge, and is ready to impose his four decades of boxing wisdom on all comers.

“I have a message for everyone down the line in the heavyweight division. I’m ready for you. Come fight me,” Ortiz said. “I know everyone thinks I’m old, but they’ll be surprised when they step into the ring with me. I’m ready to fight the best in the world.”