That didn’t take long. Just two days after news broke that Luis Ortiz and Charles Martin had agreed to square off on New Year’s Day, PBC has announced that the pair will headline a five-fight, all-heavyweight Fox Sports pay-per-view.
Those interested will need to cough up $39.99.
The press release claims that Ortiz (32-2, 27 KO) vs. Martin (28-2-1, 25 KO) will serve as an “IBF eliminator;” where that leaves Filip Hrgovic is anyone’s guess, as the Croat got the call when Martin turned down an eliminator against Michael Hunter.
“I can’t wait to give my fans in South Florida a great show on New Year’s Day and earn another shot at the heavyweight title,” said Ortiz. “Charles Martin is a good fighter, but he’s standing in my way. The only thing on my mind is getting in the ring and making a big statement in this fight to show again why the heavyweight division fears me.”
“Nobody wants to fight me, and nobody wants to fight Ortiz, so we’ll fight each other,” said Martin. “I’m going to show the world on January 1 why I deserve a title shot. I’ve paid my dues, and I want my belt back. Beating Ortiz is going to get me one step closer to that goal. To become a two-time heavyweight champion, I have to get past Ortiz first, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
The co-feature sees Frank Sanchez (19-0, 13 KO) step back in competition against Carlos Negron (25-3, 20 KO). Sanchez is coming off a solid if dull decision over Efe Ajagba, while Negron, a former Olympian, is 5-0 over low-level competition since consecutive knockout losses to Dominic Breazeale and Brian Howard.
“I’m happy to be back so soon after beating Agjaba, but the work is only beginning,” said Sanchez. “There’s much more to be done. I believe I will be the first heavyweight champion in Cuban history. Negron is a strong, dangerous opponent. I’ll have to be my best, but I’m confident that I will come out victorious. I believe in my team, and my team believes in me. We’ll start the New Year off getting to 20-0, remain busy, and make a strong case for a world title by year’s end.”
The 2008 Puerto Rican Olympian Negron (25-3, 20 KOs) rides a five-fight winning streak into January 1, including four wins by stoppage. The 34-year-old bounced back from defeats to Dominic Breazeale and Brian Howard to put together his win streak, including a March 2020 knockout over previously unbeaten Robert Alfonso. Negron has fought professionally since 2009 and now lives in Miami, where he trains alongside Luis Ortiz.
“This is a great opportunity for me to get a win over a strong up-and-coming fighter and show everyone what I’m capable of,” said Negron. “I’m training hard, and I’ve had great sparring to be ready for anything that Sanchez is going to bring. My experience and preparation are going to be different. I’m extremely motivated to give the fans a great fight and put myself in a position to get a world title opportunity.”
The middle bout’s a rematch pitting Jonnie Rice (14-6-1, 10 KO) against the man he derailed in July, Michael Coffie (12-1, 9 KO). Rice entered the bout as a late replacement, but beat down Coffie in decisive fashion for a fifth-round finish.
“In my last fight against Coffie, I went in there to prove myself and do what I had been training to do,” said Rice. “It was sunk or swim, and I came out on top. Now I have to go out there on January 1 and show that it wasn’t a fluke. This is a great stage for displaying my talents and proving that I’m capable of big things. I’m looking to give the fans a great performance, and I know that Coffie is doing the same. Don’t miss this fight.”
“I want to get it back and make it an actual fight this time against Jonny Rice,” said Coffie. “Last time, I was in a position where I faced some adversity, and I had to decide to go through with the fight. I know that I can fight through adversity, and on January 1, I will be ready for whatever way the fight goes. On January 1, there will be a fight.”
The man Rice replaced in that fight, Gerald Washington (20-4-1, 13 KO), squares off against Turkish Olympian Ali Eren Demirezen (14-1, 11 KO). Demirezen has won three straight since his sole loss to Efe Ajagba, though Washington looks to be a fair bit tougher than that lot despite being in the midst of a 2-4 skid.
“I’m looking forward to stepping back in the ring on January 1,” said Washington. “I’m ready to go to work and get myself back in position for some big-time fights. My experience is going to be the difference in this fight, and it’s going to be a great night of heavyweight action!”
“I learned a lot from my loss to Ajagba, and I’m looking forward to getting another chance to box in the U.S.,” said Demirezen. “I’m still angry about the Ajagba fight because I know that I could have won. I want to show now that I belong on this stage. I’m proud to be in this position to show what I can do, and I’m going to make the most of the opportunity.”
In the opener, Ukraine’s Viktor Faust (8-0, 6 KO) takes on the always game Iago Kiladze (27-5-1, 19 KO). Kiladze is two fights removed from an absolute slobberknocker with Ajagba.
“I’m excited to be back fighting in the U.S. again on January 1,” said Faust. “I’ve been welcomed warmly, and fighting stateside already feels like my living room. I love the atmosphere. This is a great chance to show me on this pay-per-view show against a very high-quality opponent. I won’t disappoint fans when I step into the ring.”
“I’ll be ready on fight night, and I’ll be focused,” said Kiladze. “I’m grateful for the opportunity and training hard to put on a good performance and leave the ring with a victory.”