Luis Ortiz has started to look his age, but “King Kong” remains dangerous, as he got off the canvas twice tonight and rallied to stop Charles Martin in the sixth round of a heavyweight slugfest main event on FOX pay-per-view.
The 42-year-old Ortiz (33-2, 28 KO) hadn’t fought at all in 14 months, and really hadn’t had a serious fight since his late 2019 rematch loss to Deontay Wilder. And he definitely looked a tick slower than his best days, and more than that, he looked noticeably more vulnerable.
Martin (28-3, 25 KO) dropped Ortiz in the first round and again late in the fourth, the first one a flash knockdown and the second one a bit more substantial, but coming off of a jab.
Ortiz had also struggled a bit to land big shots, until he did, and Martin was pretty much out on his feet on a big shot that landed early in round six. He didn’t go down, and Ortiz pounced, dropping Martin, who also got his glove tangled between the top and second ropes, sort of like Andre the Giant used to do but with just a hand, not both arms, and also, you know, not on purpose.
Martin did get free and it bought him a few seconds, but it wasn’t enough. Ortiz smelled blood in the water and went for the finish, battering a still-groggy and shaky-legged Martin until a second knockdown, after which referee Frank Santore Jr stopped the fight.
Martin did protest, including telling Ortiz that the ending was “bullshit.” Ortiz responded by shoving Martin away, but cooler heads prevailed and peace was brokered after an emotional moment.
“I told you this was going to be fireworks. He knocked me down twice, and at the end I finished him. I do respect him a lot,” Ortiz said. “I was never worried. I just kept working the jab. Southpaw against southpaw is a difficult fight, but at the end intelligence won it.”
There’s no telling what Ortiz might do next, but PBC definitely have options for him. One would be a fight with Andy Ruiz Jr, another former titleholder like Martin, but one with a better win and more name value than Martin has ever had. Asked himself what he wants to do, Ortiz declined to name anyone specifically.
Undercard results and highlights
Frank Sanchez UD-10 Christian Hammer
Awful fight. Sanchez goes to 20-0 (13 KO) with an easy win over short notice opponent Hammer (26-9, 19 KO), a durable veteran who loses at this level, and usually doesn’t win rounds at this level. He again did not win a round, with Sanchez sweeping the cards 100-89 across the board, an extra point off of Hammer’s total for a bogus knockdown call at the tail end of the 10th and final round.
If this weren’t how Sanchez always fights, where he has the very “Cuban” habit of exerting exactly as much effort as it takes to win a round and nothing more, you’d be forgiven for having the feeling that this played out like a gentleman’s agreement, where Sanchez was happy someone stepped in to make sure he still got a payday, and Hammer were happy to pop over to the States for the smaller end of the payday, but maybe let’s not get too crazy, huh?
Jonnie Rice UD-10 Michael Coffie
A rematch of a FOX fight from last year, where journeyman Rice scored a minor upset on short notice against Coffie, who was a mid-30s novice — if we’re being honest — getting a push from FOX and PBC for whatever reason. I mean, he seems like a great guy and he fights hard, so that’s something if nothing else. But Coffie (12-2, 9 KO) not only hasn’t bean able to beat Rice (15-6-1, 10 KO), he hasn’t come very close either time.
Scores here were 97-93, 97-93, and 99-91 for Rice. Bad Left Hook had it 98-92 for Rice.
This started brutally slow but after the third round was pretty much all Rice, who wasn’t in great shape to say the least but his long right hands just gave Coffie fits, and Coffie didn’t do close to enough, and the last third or so of the fight had a pretty badly damaged left eye, too.
Rice and Coffie both seem like really nice dudes and they’re big, tough men, but this is a certain level, and “third out of five on a major pay-per-view” is not that level. Coffie has to really consider his boxing career at this point; he’s 35 years old and has fallen well short of beating Jonnie Rice, who is nowhere near a contender.
Ali Eren Demirezen TKO-8 Gerald Washington
At 39, Washington (20-5-1, 13 KO) may also want to consider if boxing on further is the right thing for him. He started OK-ish in the first couple rounds here, but then he started pretty visibly tiring, and badly, and Demirezen (15-1, 12 KO) just took over.
Demirezen was an Olympian for Turkey, but not, like, an Olympian Olympian, not an Olympian in the way you think he must be some great technical boxer. Lots of people make the Olympics and aren’t, and he’s not, but he’s solid fundamentally and once Washington started fatiguing, he took advantage and took over the fight, turning it pretty one-sided until Buddy McGirt told the referee to stop this early in the eighth. It seemed like McGirt was giving Gerald just enough chance to maybe do something, but when it was clear it wasn’t changing that round, he called it.
Washington’s had a much longer, more successful run than other football players-turned-boxers of his era have, becoming a real pro and not just a brief experiment. Tonight may have been the end of the line.
Viktor Faust TKO-2 Iago Kiladze
The big question, at least for Brian Kenny, was whether or not Faust (9-0, 7 KO) is as good as advertised/hoped. The answer is pretty clear after this fight, and though Kenny didn’t say it, that answer is no.
This was rock ‘em, sock ‘em stuff while it lasted, a truly crazy round-and-a-half of action.
Kiladze went down in the first. Then Faust went down. Then Kiladze went down. In the second, Faust went down, then Kiladze went down, and referee Samuel Burgos stopped it, which made Kiladze (27-6-1, 19 KO) mad enough that he took half a swipe at Burgos. Now, listen, adrenaline and the fact that Kiladze was rocked can explain that, and I hope they met up after and hashed it out and whatever, but it was pretty funny to watch Samuel Burgos — not a tall man — give the 6’3” or so Kiladze the, “Fuck’s wrong witchu, man?” for taking that little shoving potshot at him.
To me, Faust looked like a guy who definitely has power, but he’s very basic, sort of robotic, and doesn’t take the best shot, either. Looks like cannon fodder for heavyweight contenders if he manages to get to that level, which is really questionable.