Luis ‘King Kong’ Ortiz recovered from two knockdowns to stop ‘Prince’ Charles Martin and potentially put himself in line for a future shot at the IBF world heavyweight title. Marketed as a battle of the big hitters, the fight did not disappoint and included four total knockdowns as well as a spectacular finish.
There was early concern for Ortiz when he was knocked down twice including being felled in round four by what looked like a stiff jab. Ortiz came out for round six behind on the scorecards and froze Martin with a powerful left hook, never letting him recover and forcing referee Frank Santore Jr. to wave off the bout.
IN THE BLUE CORNER – LUIS ORTIZ
Hard hitting Cuban Ortiz entered this contest with a record of 32-2 (27KO) and two no contests, Ortiz was ranked #7 on The Ring Magazine list of top 10 heavyweights. Notable wins include a 6th round knockout of Tony Thompson, a man who twice challenged Wladimir Klitschko for the unified world heavyweight title.
Ortiz also beat Malik Scott in 2016 via unanimous decision, Scott compiled a career record of 38-3-1 and recently rose to fame as head trainer of his former opponent Deontay Wilder for his third fight with WBC world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
With his two career defeats coming at the hands of former world champion Wilder in 2018 and 2019, Ortiz has no defeats on his resume to opposition below the elite level.
IN THE RED CORNER – CHARLES MARTIN
Martin started his career in exciting fashion with six straight knockouts before a disappointing majority decision draw against Alvaro Morales. Martin bounced back from that result with a 16-fight winning streak that set up a showdown with Vyacheslav Glazkov in 2016 for the vacant IBF world heavyweight title.
Martin stopped Glazkov in the third round with the referee ruling the Ukrainian unable to continue due to a knee injury. Martin would have a short title reign, dropping the belt in his next bout against Anthony Joshua.
Victories against Byron Polley and Michael Marrone followed the Joshua defeat, before Martin fell by unanimous decision to Adam Kownacki in Brooklyn. Martin entered this bout on a three-fight winning streak that brought his career record to 28-2-1 (25 KO), including a 6th round stoppage of Gerald Washington last time out on the undercard of Fury v Wilder 2.
The sizable frame of Ortiz filled the center of the ring as he snapped out jabs during the opening minute of the fight. Martin ended up on the ground after three Ortiz jabs but referee Santore ruled no knockdown due to Ortiz stepping on the foot of Martin to cause the loss of balance.
Ortiz was down himself soon after and this time the knockdown did count after a lead right hand from Martin was followed by a left hook to the side of the head. Ortiz smiled as he took an eight count before resuming the fight as an emboldened Martin swung and missed with a looping overhand right late in the round.
Round two started with Ortiz on the front foot firing out the jab again while Martin responded with a one-two combination and a clean left hook. Martin stepped forward to let go a right hand only to be rocked back with a left-handed counter from Ortiz who remained on the front foot for the remainder of the round.
The breakneck fight pace slowed a little in round three with Martin circling the ring and fighting behind the jab. Ortiz responded in similar fashion and neither man gave away much of an opening in a cagey period from both fighters.
Ortiz walked down Martin and connected with sharp jabs in round four, while Martin looked to respond with heavy hooks. Just as it appeared Ortiz may bank the round on the scorecards, he was dropped in the final seconds by what appeared to be a stiff jab from Martin, taking another eight count before the bell rang.
Martin went on the front foot in round five, releasing punches and looking confident while Ortiz landed a right hand to the body. Ortiz doubled up on the jab before Martin closed out the round by landing two right hands to the jaw.
Round six began with both fighters having landed 41 punches each, but Martin held a lead on the scorecards courtesy of the two knockdowns. The momentum of the fight would soon change however as a crashing left hook from Ortiz froze Martin and the Cuban unloaded with a vicious barrage of punches that felled Martin against the ropes.
After the knockdown, referee Santore had to free Martin’s glove after it got tangled up in the ropes during the fall. The fight resumed and Ortiz sensed blood in the water, swinging heavy punches to the head and body, dropping Martin for a second time with a left hook to the ribs.
With blood running from his nose and mouth, Martin rose to his feet but looked dazed after getting up and referee Santore waved off the fight.
WHAT THEY SAID
Speaking in the ring after the fight with his children by his side, Ortiz thanked his wife, children, and the crowd who came to support. After professing his respect for his opponent, southpaw Ortiz acknowledged the difficulty that fighting a fellow southpaw gave him. “It’s very different when it’s right-handed against right-handed but southpaw against southpaw is a very difficult fight, at the end intelligence won the fight.”
WHAT NEXT FOR THE WINNER
This fight was an IBF world title eliminator, moving Ortiz further along the path to become mandatory challenger to unified champion Oleksandr Usyk. Quality opponents that could further that claim include Joseph Parker and undefeated Croatian Filip Hrgovic.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE LOSER
With this fight seen by many as a defeat to somebody in the lower echelon of the top 10 heavyweights, this defeat leaves Martin far away from a world title shot. If the matchups can be made then Joe Joyce, Andy Ruiz Jr, or Frank Sanchez would be scalps that would shift his standing within the division.
Author’s Scorecard (round by round)