The rematch between WBC heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz is official, as the fight was announced today for Nov. 23 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, live on FOX pay-per-view.
Leo Santa Cruz will return in the co-feature in a dreadful matchup against Miguel Flores, quite ridiculously for a vacant WBA title at 130 pounds.
Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KO) beat Ortiz (31-1, 26 KO) via 10th round stoppage in a back-and-forth brawl in Mar. 2018 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, in a fight that aired on Showtime.
Since the loss, the 40-year-old Ortiz has gone 3-0, stopping Razvan Cojanu and Travis Kauffman, and beating Christian Hammer over 10 rounds in March of this year.
Wilder has fought twice in the interim, controversially drawing with Tyson Fury last December and then violently knocking out Dominic Breazeale in May.
“When I fought Ortiz not only did he have the pedigree, but also he had the classification of being the boogeyman of the division,” said Wilder. “I agree with those who say that Luis Ortiz was my toughest fight to date. No one wanted to fight him and they still don’t. In the rematch there’s more confidence and more motivation to do what I have to do. I’ve already seen the style before. It’s going to make it more fun. I can’t wait to see how he tries to handle me when I’m at my best.”
“I have to give Deontay Wilder a lot of credit for taking this fight because it shows he has the heart of a true champion,” said Ortiz. “He is not at all scared to take a dangerous fight, because let’s be honest, this is the most dangerous fight for him. In my opinion, he’s the best heavyweight in the world until someone beats him, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do on Nov. 23.”
Santa Cruz (36-1-1, 19 KO) has held titles at 118, 122, and 126, but despite a pair of two-fight series with Abner Mares and Carl Frampton, his opposition has been routinely criticized, and rightfully so. This fight with Flores (24-2, 12 KO) will be again, and should be. The two were originally scheduled to meet in a FOX main event in February for Santa Cruz’s WBA featherweight title, but Flores withdrew and was replaced by Rafael Rivera.
It wasn’t a good fight then, and isn’t now. Flores, 27, isn’t remotely a legitimate world level contender. He was stopped by Dat Nguyen and Chris Avalos in back-to-back fights in 2017, and since then all he’s done is beat a pair of club fighters in Raul Chirino and Luis May. BoxRec have him ranked No. 131 in the world at 130 pounds.
“When I first started boxing my dream was to be a world champion and I’ve been fortunate to win three different world championships in three different divisions,” said Santa Cruz. “I couldn’t imagine winning championships in four divisions. It’s something I never really dreamed of and I’m very happy about this opportunity. I know Flores is another tough Mexican boxer like me. He always comes forward, so it’s going to be a fun fight for the fans.”
“I’m extremely excited to be getting this opportunity once again to fight Leo Santa Cruz and win a world title,” said Flores. “This is a dream come true for me, and I’m going to take advantage of the situation. This moment in my life is something I’ve envisioned since I was a kid. On Nov. 23, you will see the best version of myself as I plan to be in the best shape of my life, with the goal of becoming a world champion, and what better way to do it than in Las Vegas at MGM Grand? Leo and I are going to put on a great show, that you can guarantee.”