In a thrilling fight turnaround, Luis ‘King Kong’ Ortiz (33-2, 28 KOs) pulled a victory out of the jaws of defeat on Saturday night with a stunning sixth round knockout victory over Charles Martin (28-3-1, 25 KOs) in an IBF sanctioned heavyweight title eliminator at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, Florida. The time of the stoppage was at 1:37 of the sixth.
Ortiz looked like he was on the brink of a near-certain loss through the first five rounds, as Martin dropped him in rounds one and fourth.
The Cuban fighter Ortiz had no mobility, and he was wide open for every left hand that Martin threw at him.
However, in the sixth round, the 42-year-old Ortiz suddenly turned things around with a massive combination that had Martin looking lifeless somehow still standing.
Ortiz then went after the zombie-like Martin, nailing him with repeated left hands until he hit the deck. Momentarily, the 35-year-old Ortiz was stuck between the ropes, and the referee needed to untangle the former IBF champion.
When the 6’5″ southpaw Martin climbed up off the canvas, ‘King Kong’ Ortiz tagged him with a powerful shot to the breadbasket. Instinctively, Martin reached out and grabbed Ortiz in a bear hug to get him to let up on him.
Ortiz was having none of it, and continued to batter the hurt Martin with powerful right hands to the head, sending him down on the canvas. The referee then wisely stopped it rather than waiting for Martin to get back up again.
The win for Luis Ortiz makes him the IBF mandatory challenger for IBF/WBA/WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk, making it the third time the Cuban talent will be fighting for a world title.
On two previous tries, Ortiz challenge former WBC champion Deontay Wilder and lost both fights, but he was competitive and gave the Bronze Bomber a lot of trouble.
As long as Ortiz doesn’t lose to anybody while waiting for his title shot, he’ll be able to challenge for a world title.
We’re probably talking about Ortiz needing to wait until 2023 before he gets a shot at the IBF belt because Usyk will be tied up this year fighting Anthony Joshua in a rematch in April, and the winner of the contest will take on WBC champion Tyson Fury in the second half of the year.
Ortiz, 6’4″, is going to need a lot better against Usyk or whoever has the IBF title when he does challenge for the IBF belt. Tonight, Ortiz fought like he had leg problems. Whether that was old age or a knee issue that Ortiz failed to reveal is unknown.
In the co-feature bout, heavyweight contender Frank Sanchez (20-0, 13 KOs) defeated Christian Hammer (26-9, 16 KOs) by a 10 round unanimous decision. The scores were 100-89, 100-89, and 100-89.
It wasn’t the performance that boxing fans had expected from the 29-year-old Cuban Sanchez, as he fought defensively throughout the contest, moving around the ring, throwing single potshots, and rarely standing still long enough for the plodding Hammer to hit him with anything.
Sanchez failed to realize that this was an important showcase opportunity for him to make a case for him to be given a title shot in 2022.
Rather than taking advantage of his chance to impress, Sanchez ran around the ring, spoiling and making it boring for the boxing fans at ringside at the Seminole and at home.
Sanchez’s performance was easily the worst on the card from a winning fighter and failed to let his hands to in the way that he needed to win over boxing fans.
We’ll see what happens now with Sanchez. His trainer Eddy Reynoso said this week that he wants him to challenge IBF/WBA/WBO champion Usyk for his titles in 2022, and he thinks he’s more than ready to dethrone him.
Based on tonight’s performance, Sanchez is nowhere near good enough to beat Usyk, Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, or Deontay Wilder.