Deontay Wilder’s Nov. 4 WBC heavyweight title defense against Luis Ortiz at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Showtime has been cancelled. According to ESPN, which broke the story, this action was taken after the undefeated 38-year-old Cuban tested positive for banned substances, namely chlorothiazide and hydrochlorothiazide. These are diuretics used to treat hypertension but are also used as masking agents. Ortiz previously failed a PED test in 2014.
This is another tough break for Wilder and his promoter Lou DiBella. They have had several recent fights fall apart because Wilder’s scheduled opponent flunked his PED test. In a more bizarre incident, DeBella’s fighter Avtandil Khurtsidze had his match with WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders scuttled when he was arrested on federal racketeering charges.
Wilder (38-0, 37 KOs) won his title with a unanimous decision over Bermane Stiverne at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Jan. 17, 2015. The title was previously held by Vitali Klitschko who vacated it when he retired. The match with Luis Ortiz, the self-styled Real King Kong, would have been Wilder’s sixth title defense.
The 38-year-old Stiverne, a Las Vegas resident by way of Canada and Haiti, was Wilder’s mandatory challenger but was induced to forego the match in return for a hefty step-aside payment. Stiverne is slated to appear on the Nov. 4 show in a televised undercard match against Dominic Breazeale.
Although Wilder-Ortiz is kaput, it is not yet clear if the entire show will evaporate. There is speculation that it will be salvaged by bumping Stiverne (25-2-1) into the main event. He is the only man to have lasted the distance with Wilder, but that hook alone wouldn’t make the match as compelling as Wilder-Ortiz. The first encounter between Wilder and Stiverne was a one-sided, lackluster affair and the soft-spoken Stiverne, who has been largely inactive, is pretty much a blank in the personality department.
This is an ongoing story. Check back for more developments.
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