By David A. Avila
Heavyweights are a different breed of fighter. They can fight into their 40s and they don’t need to worry about making weight.
They are simply big.
Ever since “Irish” Gerry Cooney arrived in the 1980s the heavyweight division has become the land of the giants. The days of someone smaller than 6-feet winning a heavyweight title may be gone forever.
The Mike Tysons and James Toneys do not come along too often.
Cuban heavyweight Luis “King Kong” Ortiz fits the new bill as the prototype for a heavyweight world champion. He stands five inches over six-feet, possesses speed, power and the skills to clash with even the biggest heavyweights.
“He is the best heavyweight out there by far, not just because we have him,” said Roberto Diaz matchmaker for Golden Boy Promotions. “But it’s scary. He looks to be getting better and better. He has power, speed, boxing ability and most of all he is a southpaw.”
So far Ortiz has proven to be a sledgehammer in the heavyweight division.
Just recently, within a bicycle ride to the Washington Monument, the Cuban southpaw dismantled veteran contender Tony Thompson over the course of six rounds. Before that it was Bryant Jennings in a battle of rising contenders. And preceding that was the seismic demolition of Argentina’s Matias Vidondo, a towering heavyweight with vaunted power.
Ortiz has mowed them down like a Roaring 20s Thompson machine gun.
Is he the best Cuban heavyweight ever?
Seldom do I spend time on the heavyweight division. Of all the divisions in boxing it seemed the heavyweights had the least amount of skill. It was more who is bigger than who is better. The days of skillful heavyweights seemed to have disappeared since Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe last rumbled. It seemed they were gone forever.
Cuba’s boxing machine has been molding fighters for decades but heavyweights seemed to be off limits. Years ago Teofilo Stevenson was the pride of the island and even rumored to be a possible opponent of Muhammad Ali at one time. Of course it never happened, but could Cuba’s heavyweight have competed with “the Greatest”?
Most experts agree that he was definitely good enough.
A few Cuban heavyweights have trickled from the island nation to the U.S., Germany and Ireland. Juan Carlos Gomez left the island in 1995 and was very talented but too small in terms of power. He was a good cruiserweight but when he moved up to the big boy division he was crushed by Vitali Klitschko. Even fellow Cuban Yanqui Diaz proved too much for Gomez when they met in 2004 and was knocked out in the first round. Other Cubans have arrived and not shown resilience until Ortiz.
Is he the real deal?
Golden Boy’s Diaz feels he truly is the best of the heavyweights today.
“I think he’s better good enough to beat anyone out there. Even Klitschko or Fury,” said Diaz. “They don’t want to have anything to do with him.”
Maybe it’s because of his tactical approach. Like most Cubans in the pro world he’s careful when the first bell rings and applies just enough pressure to force a reaction from his opponents. From that point on he looks to find the chinks in their defensive armor and when they are wide enough he strikes. Unlike most Cubans the southpaw slugger lets his hands go when he does open up. Few heavyweights can match his speed.
Of course it always comes down to the chin. Fighters can have all of the tools in the world but a weak chin can be the downfall of anyone even Ortiz. To this point the Cuban’s chin has been quite good.
Diaz wants to line them all up. He feels Ortiz can grab all of the belts.
“He’s the best heavyweight out there,” Diaz said.
Maybe the best since Teofilo?