Ortiz won the interim strap with a one round KO of Lateef Kayode in September, but the result has now been made a no contest and the belt is likely to be declared vacant after the Cuban tested positive for the banned substance Nandrolone.
The Nevada State Athletic Committee held a meeting on Monday and unanimously voted to ban Ortiz for eight months (backdated to September) and fine him $8,000.
Browne is ranked number five by the WBA, but with Bryant Jennings likely to face Wladimir Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin and Tyson Fury exploring options with other sanctioning bodies, the hard-hitting Aussie is the highest available contender.
“I’m so close to landing a huge fight, I can almost touch it,” Browne, 22-0 (19 KOs), said. “I’m crossing my fingers that I’m going to land a title fight early this year and I’ll make sure that I grab the opportunity with both hands, if it eventuates.
“Whether it’s the interim title or Ruslan Chagaev, it doesn’t matter to me. I like my chances with any heavyweight in the world and that includes Chagaev. I’ve got two legends of the sport in Ricky Hatton, my promoter and Jeff Fenech, my trainer, in my corner.
“I’m going from strength to strength. My fans base in Australia and also the UK and Ireland will be right behind me. I get constant messages of support from all over the world and I thank the fans for that.
“I try to make myself accessible to the fans and I think that’s why I get such a strong following. Fighting for a world title with all that support would be a dream come true.”
Matt Clark, Browne’s co-manager, added: “We are hopeful that this opens up a huge opportunity for Lucas Browne to either challenge for the vacant interim title or face Ruslan Chagaev for his regular belt.
“Lucas is essentially the highest ranked contender available in the WBA rankings to face Chagaev or contest the interim title, as the other boxers appear to be taking different paths.
“Lucas has fought away from Australia on six occasions, which is a testament to his warrior mentality. If we have to travel again for the interim crown or to face Chagaev, he will have no problems at all in doing so.”