By: Sean Crose
“Everybody knows I don’t talk a lot, and prefer to make my name in the ring,” says the sometimes surly, always exciting to watch, heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz, “On Saturday you’re going to see what I do best and that’s throw punches. That’s my job.” Part of Ortiz’ job this Saturday, when he faces the 25-5 Christian Hammer at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York, is to not only win, but win impressively. For the fractured heavyweight division means there are possible openings available for Ortiz to get a second shot at a world title.
“This is a big fight for me to prove that I deserve another shot at the title,” he says. “In my heart I still believe I had that fight against Deontay Wilder in my hands. It was mine to win. Hopefully he will step up and face me again.” The fight with Wilder that Ortiz is referring to was an absolute war last year that saw the Cuban slugger have his opponent badly hurt, before the hard hitting WBC champion ended the affair by successfully stopping Ortiz in the 10th round. Before he can get another chance at a belt, however, Ortiz has to get past Hammer.
“Christian Hammer says that he’s coming to win so he better come with a lot of energy,” Ortiz says. Officially 39 years old (though he’s rumored to be even older), Ortiz is a fighter who simply doesn’t have time on his side. “I fight for my family and I bring that passion into the gym every day,” says Ortiz. “You will see it in the ring Saturday night. I hope that Hammer has prepared because I’m leaving it all in the ring like I always do.”
For his part, Hammer is exuding confidence in the leadup to Saturday’s fight. “I’m completely focused on this fight,” the German (by way of Romania) fighter says. “I’m here to cancel his plans for a Wilder rematch. I’m going to put myself in a position for even more big fights.” Needless to say, Ortiz isn’t coming across as intimidated. “I don’t know how I’m going to win on Saturday,” he claims, “but I’ll leave with my hand raised. I don’t know how, but I’m going to do everything to make it happen.”
With little likelihood of Wilder, Anthony Joshua, or Tyson Fury facing off anytime soon, it’s been suggested there’s plenty of room and opportunity in the heavyweight playground at the moment. There are already whispers that, should Ortiz prevail on Saturday, a rematch with Wilder might go down in the spring. At the moment, though, Ortiz looks content staying locked in on what’s directly in front of him. “My focus is completely on Christian Hammer,” he says. “I’ve been doing this for a long time and I know what it takes to be at my best. After this fight, I’ll see where we’re at and see which of the top heavyweights will be available to me.”
The Wilder-Hammer fight is part of a Premiere Boxing Champions card featuring Erislandy Lara and Brian Castano, which will be aired live on Showtime starting at 9PM Eastern Standard Time this Saturday night.