2 World Heavyweight Title Fights – This Saturday, March 5th, not one but two WBA World titles are set to be defended. The much talked about Golden Boy promoted fight between “interim” champion Luis Ortiz and challenger Tony Thompson takes place at the DC Armory in Washington and is set to air on HBO. Ortiz is 24-0 and he has been building momentum at just the right time in the heavyweight division, and he has Golden Boy’s full backing.
Thompson is 44 years old and he enters the fight with a career mark of 40 wins and 6 losses. The word was that GBP was having trouble finding an opponent for Ortiz, until the veteran Thompson stepped up.
Ortiz enters the fight a massive favorite, returning at -3400. Thompson is a +1800 underdog.
Thompson is slow at his age and is not a crowd pleaser, as he employs a cagey, defensive style, but he could make Ortiz look bad if Ortiz lets him. Although the choice of opponent has little upside for Ortiz, he does deserve credit for fighting and staying busy, not choosing to wait for a “big” fight. Ortiz and GBP feel those are coming.
Across the world, in Grozny, Russia the WBA’s World title is on the line between titleholder Ruslan Chagaev and challenger Lucas Browne.
Chagaev is 34-2-1, and though he started his career fighting in the United States, he has not fought west of Germany since the first half of 2003. Chagaev won the belt with a hard fought majority decision over Fres Oquendo in July of 2014. He defended the belt in July of 2015 against Francesco Pianeta. The two losses on his record came to Alexander Povetkin and Wladimir Klitschko. He is 37 years old, and he is a heavyweight of the short and stout variety, coming in at under six feet tall and usually weighing between 240 and 250 pounds.
The sport books have opened Chagaev a favorite in this fight, and as we enter fight week Chagaev is returning -220, with the comeback on Browne at +180.
Browne faces a lot of challenges fighting the Uzbek Chagaev in Grozny, a city that was practically levelled by war just a decade ago. But Browne will be half a foot taller than Chagaev and have a three inch reach advantage. Browne will be in the neighborhood of 260 lbs for the fight, so he is big enough to potentially hold off Chagaev as he bulls his way in. Browne holds a perfect record of 23-0 with 20 KOs, but he figures to need a knockout for the win.
In some ways, Browne has had a rough year and half. Since being named the mandatory challenger to Chagaev back in February of 2015 he has fought just once, an outing against Julius Long that can only be described as lackluster. He was pushed to the side as Chagaev signed to fight Oquendo in a re-match last October after those two became embattled in a lawsuit. This match is on the schedule now because Oquendo pulled out of the fight with an injured shoulder. The Long fight is his only bout in the last 16 months.
Browne is a unique character, however. He has a brawler’s mindset, even dabbling in MMA a few years back. Browne is also keenly aware that a win over Chagaev would earn him a place in Australian boxing history as that country’s first ever World heavyweight champion. Browne has been chomping at the bit for a big opportunity for a couple of years now.
Poster from www.proboxing.cz (czech language)
If the WBA has any plan at all, the potential exists for the winners of the two fights to meet, as Ortiz would likely relish upgrading his belt from “interim” status.
It should also be noted that the WBA has a “Super World” Heavyweight title as well, and that belt is currently held by Tyson Fury. No word on Fury’s next bout which officially is scheduled to be against Wladimir Klitschko.
Check out a results video for this fight at The Boxing Channel