Unbeaten Cuban heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz has plenty of options, the most appealing of which just might be the mooted WBC final eliminator between Ortiz and former WBC heavyweight champ and current WBC NO.1 contender Bermane Stiverne. Ortiz, who is currently ranked at NO.2 with the WBC, would likely take the Stiverne fight if it were indeed offered to him – so says his promoter Eddie Hearn.
“It hasn’t been called yet by the WBC, but people are talking about [contenders] one and two having a final eliminator for [Deontay] Wilder, which would make sense” Hearn told Sky Sports today. “Ortiz is high in the IBF, he’s mandatory in the WBA, he’s now number two in the WBC. There are so many ways he can go. I think if the Stiverne fight came up, he would take that in a final eliminator, but then that would close the door on the other governing bodies, so it’s something he has got to think about carefully.”
Ortiz, who also has a possible big fight with the unbeaten Jarrell Miller in the offing, seems to be targeting Wilder most seriously. Recently stating how “The Bronze Bomber” is “scared” to face him in a fight, Ortiz, if he became the WBC mandatory, would leave Wilder with no option but to fight him. But would Ortiz beat Stiverne if the two did meet? It’s an interesting fight between two big heavyweights who are pushing the age of 40.
Stiverne – who was to have fought Alexander Povetkin in a final eliminator for a shot at Wilder, only to see the fight fall through due to the Russian star failing a drugs test – has been far from active recently (last fighting in November of 2015), while Ortiz put almost 19 rounds under his belt in his two recent fights, in November and December. Ortiz, 27-0(23) would likely be the favourite over Stiverne, based on the respective activity levels of the two men, but it could be the Cuban southpaw’s toughest pro fight.
How much has Stiverne, 25-2-1(21) got left? We should have found out in the aborted Povetkin bout (and Stiverne did look to have got himself in great physical condition for that fight) but we may now find out against Ortiz.