Luis Ortiz injury forces change in heavyweight contender picture

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Editor’s note: This article was originally published at SportingNews.com.

On New Year’s Day, Luis Ortiz pulled off the ultimate comeback when he knocked out Charles Martin in the sixth round. It was a must-win for Ortiz, who reinserted himself back in the heavyweight title picture.

Following his win, Ortiz (33-2, 28 KOs) was given a deadline by the IBF to fight Filip Hrgovic in a title eliminator. The winner of the fight would have most likely faced champion Oleksandr Usyk. However, it appears Ortiz has rejected that path to glory, as it was revealed he injured his left hand during the Martin fight.

“Basically, Luis had a minimal fracture that he should be able to heal without issues, but with something like that he does not want to take any risk,” Jay Jimenez, Ortiz’s manager, told George Ebro (via Boxing Scene).

“He is being evaluated, but he cannot fight as early as April, because he would not be in [the best physical condition]. We are not against fighting against Hrgovic, or against anyone, but let it happen with the best conditions for Luis.’’

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Luis Ortiz gets up from two knockdowns to stop Charles Martin in six

Ortiz made his pro debut in 2010. He is a former interim WBA heavyweight champion and almost took out Deontay Wilder in 2018 and 2019 for the WBC heavyweight title. Wilder stormed back and knocked him out both times, however.

During the Martin fight, Ortiz was down on the scorecards and looked as if he was beaten. He ended up landing wild punches in the sixth that stopped Martin. Ortiz has now won two in a row.

Hrgovic was a bronze medalist in the 2016 Olympics. His last fight was in December, when he beat Emir Ahmatovic via TKO. Promotor Kalle Sauerland quickly moved on from Ortiz-Hrgovic, stating a Hrgovic fight against Joseph Parker makes the most sense.

Parker, a former WBO heavyweight champion, has won six fights in a row. His last bout was a unanimous decision win over Derek Chisora last month.

As far as whom Ortiz would face next, Andy Ruiz Jr. is on his mind. Ruiz, a former IBF, WBA and WBO beltholder, last fought in May, beating Chris Arreola. Now working with Eddy Reynoso, Ruiz has been linked to Ortiz for a while.

“I would like Andy Ruiz to accept my challenge, but if not, I will be ready for whoever comes, because nobody wants to fight with a man they call ‘old,'” Ortiz said, via Boxing Scene.