Luis Ortiz is back
In a shock announcement, Matchroom Boxing confirmed they have signed classy Cuban heavyweight Luis Ortiz. The hard-hitting southpaw parted ways with Golden Boy earlier in the year, though it was highly unlikely he would join forces with a European promoter. Having joined Eddie Hearn’s stable alongside superstar and IBF champion Anthony Joshua, things could be about to get interesting.
Ortiz will box Malik Scott in Monte Carlo on November 12 and could then feature on the undercard of Joshua’s next fight. This could go one of two ways, Ortiz and Joshua may now be on a collision course, or the 37-year-old will be used as a wrecking ball to clear the way for Joshua to take big fights without seeing off those pesky top 10 contenders.
Regardless, it’s yet more exciting news for the heavyweight division. With Matchroom, Ortiz can conceivably get fights with any heavyweight on the planet, and with a lofty WBA ranking he could be in line to box for that title should Tyson Fury vacate it or be stripped.
Liam Walsh is the real deal
Liam Walsh has long been tipped for big things, but – by his own admission – had not yet proven the hype to be true. That changed on Saturday when he dominated Andrey Klimov to become mandatory challenger for Jose Pedraza’s IBF world super-featherweight title.
On paper, it was Walsh’s toughest fight to date but he oozed class as he dropped Klimov en route to a whitewash decision. He was a joy to watch as he moved effortlessly through the gears and displayed a wide array of skills. That being said, Klimov was slightly disappointing and barely made any earnest attempts to win the fight – though perhaps that is testament to Walsh’s skill.
His promoter, Frank Warren, is eager to get Pedraza to the UK for the title defence though that could prove difficult. Walsh is a classy boxer who looks to be a stern challenge for the unbeaten champion.
Ricky Burns is a tough, tough man
OK, so we sort of already found this out after Burns fought Rey Beltran to a draw back in 2013 despite suffering a broken jaw in the second round. However this weekend he once again showed that, on his night, he is a very tough man to beat.
Defending his WBA world super-lightweight title for the first time against Kiryl Relikh, the Scotsman had to see off an inspired start and finish by the Belorussian in order to retain his belt on the cards. For the first couple of rounds it looked as though an inspired and heavy-handed Relikh may upset the party, but Burns adjusted and took control of the fight. There were some great rounds in the middle stages until Relikh found a second wind and came on strong, hurting Burns and pushing him very close until the final bell. Burns even hit the deck under dubious circumstances, though it was not ruled a knockdown.
Despite the farcical scoring, the right man won – but he was made to work for it.
Scoring is still an issue
The scourge of dubious scoring is a universal one across boxing, and it was on display again this weekend. That’s not to say it happens every week, but judges need to be held to account much more.
In Glasgow, Burns retained his title with scores of 118-110 and 116-112 twice. The two scores of 116-112 are reasonably fair, though the fight was closer than they suggest. Jesus Cova’s score of 118-110 is outrageous. There is no way that Relikh won just two rounds in the fight.
Though the officials got the right winner, it’s worrying that one judge could score the fight so poorly and it’s an issue that constantly needs to be addressed.
Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko could be close
With still no announcement of Joshua’s next opponent the rumour mill has gone into overdrive, and Eddie Hearn kept it spinning this weekend as he gave a gleeful interview. The announcement is now expected at the back end of this week.
Hearn is still working away to try and get the Klitschko fight over the line, and it would be a real coup if it comes off. He couldn’t hide his smile while giving the interview and remains very positive about the fight happening. Indeed Joshua’s other main option, mandatory challenger Joseph Parker, might now be out of the equation, putting more pressure on Hearn to make the Klitschko fight.
Parker recently met with Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, and hinted at some big news coming. If Fury loses his WBO title, Parker is in line to box for the vacant belt against Andy Ruiz – who is promoted by Top Rank.
There will obviously be major hurdles to clear in order to get Wladimir over to the UK and face his former sparring partner, though it looks closer than ever at this stage.