It’s official. The Nov. 4th Showtime card which was to be headlined by a heavyweight title fight between Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz will go on as scheduled, except that Luis Ortiz is out and Bermane Stiverne is now in.
Ortiz, who recently flunked a VADA drug test, was officially scrapped from the card yesterday after the WBC ruled that it was withdrawing its sanction of the bout due to the failed test. Ortiz tested positive for both chlorothiazide and hydrochlorothiazide, which are used to treat high blood pressure, but can also be used to mask PED usage — and thus they are on the list of banned substances.
"The WBC has concluded the process according to its Clean Boxing Program protocol in the adverse finding of Luis Ortiz," the WBC said in a statement. "An official ruling has been sent to the corresponding parties. The WBC has withdrawn its sanction of the Wilder vs. Ortiz fight and Wilder will fight next his mandatory fight against Bermane Stiverne."
For his part, Ortiz claims that he was just taking prescribed medicine from his doctor and that not disclosing it was a simple oversight — but that didn’t absolve him from his responsibilities.
So in addition of Luis Ortiz being pulled from this card, the WBC has also fined him $25,000 to be paid withing seven days of their ruling and ordered him to take a complete physical examination. VADA will also design a specific random drug testing program for Ortiz, to be paid for on his own dime, which will continue for the next six months or until his next fight (whichever time is longer).
Meanwhile, Bermane Stiverne, the WBC mandatory challenger to the heavyweight title, had been vying for a rematch with Deontay Wilder for some time now, but had some trouble securing the bout because of a lack of demand for the fight and no network wanting to pick it up. That caused a lot of issues between the camps of Stiverne and Wilder as the fight wasn’t thought to be commercially viable, but the sides would eventually settle on a step-aside agreement ($675,000 and a spot on the undercard for Stiverne) to allow Wilder-Ortiz to go ahead, with the winner to take on Stiverne next.
Stiverne was then scheduled to appear on the undercard in a bout against Dominic Breazeale but that, as well as the step-aside agreement, has apparently gone out the window now that Stiverne will get the title shot after all. It should be noted, though, that Showtime has not yet officially signed-off on Wilder-Stiverne II, but the network is expected to do so according to ESPN.
This replacement bout between Wilder and Stiverne is unlikely to gain a lot of traction considering how easily Wilder handled Stiverne to take his WBC belt in early 2015, but, as they say, ‘it is what it is.’
"It's obviously not what we wanted," DiBella told ESPN. "We spent a lot of time to make a fight we thought was better for the fans," he said. "Ortiz, in concept, was a really good fight, and we spent a long time trying to make it happen. But I understand the WBC had to do what it had to do based on the material in front of it. So Deontay will get in the ring and defend his title against Stiverne, who is still a top heavyweight, and we'll have a great show.”
Should Wilder get this mandatory title defense taken care of without any hiccups, it just continues to build towards a future showdown with fellow heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua.