As crazy as it may sound, Luis Ortiz reminds me of former heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe. No, the two men don’t exactly have similar rings styles, but they look similar, both tall without exactly being giant-sized, a la Fury, Wilder, or Klitschko. Also, neither will be known for looking like an Adonis in the ring. These are two guys who just ain’t meant for eight pack abs, Bowe as you’ll recall having a kitchen installed into his bedroom when he was the world’s heavyweight champion. Something tells me Ortiz may have similarly oversized appetites.
Add in that both men are exceedingly skilled and hit hard and it’s obvious there’s even more traits they share. Perhaps most significantly, both Ortiz and Bowe have thrived in the shadows. Because while Ortiz is getting some much needed attention now, just as Bowe did in his high-profile wars with Evander Holyfield, the fact is neither fighter has the personality or ring pizzazz to really capture people’s imaginations. But that may not matter as Ortiz, like Bowe before him, is creating quite a name for himself on his ring exploits alone.
This past Saturday evening in Washington D.C., Ortiz battered crafty veteran and world title challenger Tony Thompson and notched a sixth round knockout victory. The usually durable Thompson was dropped three times by heavy left hands and never appeared to have a serious chance of winning. Indeed, it sometimes looked like the smiling Thompson didn’t want to fight at all. He just kind of stood there, seemingly content to accept his inevitable demise, or as if waiting for a cue or command that never came. It was a strange sight to behold.
Still, Ortiz won and won convincingly. It’s also worth noting that Thompson was pretty much the only name opponent willing to fight the Cuban defector. Apparently Ortiz is that feared. Which is understandable, to some degree. The man is big, strong, hits hard, plus he can really box.
But that said, Thompson, like Bryant Jennings before him, was able to connect against Ortiz before being taken apart by the Cuban’s power-punching. It’s not as if Ortiz is an unstoppable destroyer, a la Mike Tyson, or a defensive wizard. He’s a good boxer, but there’s no reason why any of the top heavyweights should be thinking they can’t compete with this guy.
The wins over Bryant and Thompson are high quality and definitely put Ortiz in the top five of the division; currently the good people at the Transnational Rankings Board rank him fourth behind Fury, Klitschko and Povetkin. But it’s hard for this writer to overlook the fact that Jennings was simply outgunned and that Thompson barely showed up. We have yet to see how Ortiz will react when faced with someone who can hold his own both physically and tactically, and then actually test King Kong’s chin.
How would Ortiz handle a shot from Deontay Wilder? How would he handle the herky jerky movements Tyson Fury employed against Klitcshko? How would he handle Klitschko himself? The fact that these questions are even worth asking makes it clear that Ortiz is a true force to be reckoned with. But also that, to some degree at least, the jury is still out.
So here’s hoping some major moves are in the works; Ortiz is 36-years-old so there’s no time to waste. And he’s highly regarded enough to represent a significant payday for any of the top men in the heavyweight division. Boxing fans want to know: is Ortiz really as good as he appears to be? And that means other fighters have to step up to the plate, because Tony Thompson isn’t Fury, or Klitschko, or Wilder. He’s not even the Tony Thompson of the past.
Riddick Bowe had Evander “Real Deal” Holyfield to help everyone see what “Big Daddy” truly had to offer. Without Evander, Bowe may never have realized his potential to the extent that he did. Here’s hoping someone who, unlike Thompson, actually wants to fight and win, helps us find out if “The Real King Kong” truly is for real. — Sean Crose