Don't let Luis Ortiz' two-a-day workouts fool you—it has nothing to do with rumors of his next fight as much as for maintaining his own sanity.
"This is the only thing I know how to do," Ortiz (27-0, 23KOS), the consummate gym rat told FightNights.com during a morning training session at Doral Fitness in the Miami suburb of Doral. Florida. "I wish it was always for a fight."
The latter part of the statement is in reference to recent rumors of a fall showdown versus unbeaten heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder. Highly respected boxing journalist Keith Idec recently reported on BoxingScene.com the news of a potential clash between the two, with sources indicating that all signs were pointing to a November 4 showdown at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
It was news to Ortiz' ears—at least until talking to his own team and learning that, for now, it's just more of the same talk.
"Opponents using Luis' name as leverage for another fight is nothing new," notes Herman Caicedo, Ortiz' head trainer. "Look, we commend Deontay—or at least whoever is speaking on his behalf—for appearing to be serious about fighting Luis. I know that he's not very big on fighting (Bermane) Stiverne again, likely because no TV network wants the fight.
"But until his team can figure out a way for his next fight to not be his mandatory challenge, we're just going to continue with business as usual. We get our hopes up way too often, and then find out (Ortiz) is just being used as leverage without any real interest from those mentioning his name."
With that came immediate hesitation in heavily investing in such rumors. Wilder has been idle since a 5th round stoppage win over Gerald Washington, which aired live in primetime on Fox. The voluntary title defense was granted only because Stiverne—whom Wilder defeated via 12-round decision to win the title in Jan. '15—had accepted an interim title fight with Alexander Povetkin at a time when the unbeaten champ was recovering from surgery.
The interim title fight collapsed when Povetkin was popped for a banned substance during pre-fight testing for the second time in less than eight months, the previous occasion coming shortly before his eventually canceled May '16 clash with Wilder. Stiverne followed his prior conqueror's lead, bailing from the scheduled Dec. '16 clash upon learning of Povetkin's failed drug test, though leaving the 38-year old heavyweight without a fight since a narrow points win over Derric Rossy in Nov. '15.
Where Stiverne doesn't seem too concerned is in the assurance through the World Boxing Council (WBC) that he is next in line to fight for Wilder's title. The sanctioning body ordered a rematch in late February, with talks still ongoing between Stiverne's promoter Don King and representation for Wilder's adviser Al Haymon. The biggest hurdles remain: a lack of network interest; and Stiverne's refusal to accept a step-aside package, as he not only wants to fight but for the title.
As much as he'd love his own shot at Wilder next, it's a scenario to which Ortiz can offer empathy.
"If they told me the fight was tomorrow, I'm on a plane today to fly wherever the fight is taking place," insists the 38-year old southpaw from Miami by way of Cuba, whom hasn't fought since 7th round stoppage of David Allen last December. "But for my business, everything runs through the team I trust, beginning with my manager Jay Jimenez who I talk to constantly. We're not seeing anything (so far) where he can step around Bermane Stiverne to fight me or anyone else.
"I get where Stiverne is coming from because I'm going through the same crap with (unbeaten, unified titlist) Anthony Joshua. I've been his mandatory challenger (through the WBA) forever, but the WBA doesn't want to act until Wladimir Klitschko (whom Joshua stopped in 11 rounds this past April) decides what he wants to do with the rest of his career. That's the fight I've been waiting for—that or the WBA title that Joshua is holding ransom through all of this."
Providing all of boxing's politics can be sorted out long enough to make everyone happy, Ortiz will embrace with open arms any chance to become the first-ever Cuba-born boxer to win a heavyweight title.
Just don't ask him to get his hopes up over random hearsay—again.
"We've wasted a lot of training camps believing a big fight was going to happen, only to find out it's either a much smaller fight or none at all," laments Ortiz. "I'm in the gym, regardless. I'm always in shape and ready to go.
"Right now, Jay told me to be ready for a fight in October—maybe mid, maybe late October. Maybe it's even Wilder and whenever he and his team are able to do it. I want to make this clear, though—with me, there's no negotiating for a fight. A champ like Wilder, Joshua or even a Wladimir Klitschko—those guys say they're available to fight me, my team knows to make the fight happen. If Deontay and his team can clean up their mess, I promise I'm ready to fight him tomorrow."