Will Luis Ortiz end up like Gamboa and Rigondeaux?
By Hector Franco
August 26, 2016
It was made official earlier this week that Luis Ortiz (25-0, 22 KOs) would no longer be promoted by Golden Boy. It came as a surprise to many when it was first rumored that Ortiz wanted out of his contract. The Cuban heavyweight was scheduled to fight Alexander Ustinov (33-1, 24 KOs) on the undercard of Canelo’s next fight against Liam Smith. Ortiz in the past year has gotten a large amount of exposure from Golden Boy and HBO.
Last October, Ortiz was featured on the undercard of the Golovkin-Lemieux PPV. There he scored a first round knockout over Matias Ariel Vidondo (20-2-1, 18 KOs). He was then featured on two HBO main events against Bryant Jennings (19-2, 10 KOs) and Tony Thompson (40-7, 27 KOs). It seemed like Ortiz had the backing of HBO and Golden Boy to position himself in the heavyweight landscape. Golden Boy it can be argued took a chance on signing on Ortiz since he has in the past failed a post-fight drug test for Nandrolone after a fight in 2014.
At 37 years of age, Ortiz doesn’t have time to waste. With none of the titleholders at heavyweight mentioning his name as a future opponent, Ortiz has found himself in the position as the odd man out. It could be that Ortiz and his team believe that they are on the wrong side of the promotional fence at heavyweight with Golden Boy. This may have been overzealous thinking by his team. This year has seen Deontay Wilder (37-0, 36 KOs) get recently put on the shelf with injuries. Tyson Fury (25-0, 18 KOs) has been going through his own saga of issues with Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 53 KOs). The only active heavyweight champion has been IBF champion, Anthony Joshua (17-0, 17 KOs). It would be unlikely that Joshua at this point would face Ortiz anytime soon.
Fortunately for Ortiz, his bout with Alexander Ustinov still looks like it will take place after it went to a purse bid. Ustinov’s promoter won the purse bid being the only bidder and Ortiz will now have to travel overseas to face Ustinov. If the fight goes through as planned and Ortiz wins the fight, it's unclear where his career will go. Ortiz unlike some of his other Cuban pugilist contemporaries doesn’t have the stigma of being a boring fighter. This could help him get some fights but no one is eager seems eager to face Ortiz. Other Cuban fighters in this era have gotten away from promoters only to see their careers go by the wayside.
Yuriorkis Gamboa (25-1, 17 KOS) was considered one of the best and most exciting fighters in the world in 2012. After no-showing a press conference for a fight with Brandon Rios (33-3-1, 24 KOs), Gamboa left promoter Top Rank. The Cuban gold medalist ended up signing with 50 Cent’s SMS promotions to no avail. He has been largely inactive and has had one major fight since leaving Top Rank. That was in 2014 against Terence Crawford (29-0, 20 KOs) where he was stopped in the 9th round. Gamboa recently left SMS promotions and signed with a new company called BB promotions. As of now, Gamboa has not fought in 2016 and has no fight scheduled.
The case of Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs) is similar to that of Gamboa and Ortiz. The difference with Rigondeaux is that his one-time promoter Top Rank didn’t seem interested in getting the Cuban fights after he defeated, Nonito Donaire (37-3, 24 KOs). Since leaving Top Rank, Rigondeaux has fought sparingly fighting only once in 2015 and 2016. He recently signed with RocNation, who has shown as of late to be inconsistent as a promoter. Showing their lack of experience in the boxing game. It also doesn’t help when fighters most notably, Carl Frampton (23-0, 14 KOs) openly express a disinterest in fighting him. The positive for Rigondeaux is that there is a market for him overseas in the U.K. and Japan where he can at least stay active.
Ortiz in leaving Golden Boy is taking a huge risk with his boxing career. The hope is that he will be able to get opponents in the ring with him so he can showcase his skill, power and get some paychecks. The trend, however, is against Ortiz. Ortiz spoke with boxingscene.com and seemed positive about his future.
It will only be a matter of time before we find out if Ortiz taking a chance in leaving Golden Boy works for him. The over is on Ortiz having shot himself in the foot facing the same fate as Gamboa and Rigondeaux. The hope is that Ortiz won't disappear and be forgotten. Fans deserve to see where Ortiz ultimately stands in this era of heavyweights.
(Featured Photo: Marilyn Paulino)