ACCORDING to Jeff Powell of the Daily Mail, there’s a chance much-avoided Cuban heavyweight Luis Ortiz wins the race to become Anthony Joshua’s opponent on June 1 at Madison Square Garden, New York.
Powell believes Ortiz has been offered the opportunity to replace Jarrell Miller, who failed a VADA performance-enhancing drug test this week, and has until Tuesday to either accept or decline.
Ortiz, whose sole career loss came at the hands of WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, has been identified as the prime target to save the June 1 show at Madison Square Garden but many will question whether the money men behind Joshua would be willing to let him fight a man as awkward and well-schooled – not to mention a southpaw – on relatively late notice. (Joshua, by all accounts, has put Ortiz at the top of his own list.)
It’s certainly a risk. Ortiz, though 40, and presumably not the force of old, has beaten Christian Hammer and Travis Kauffman since losing to Wilder and would appear a far tougher test for the WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight champion than the likes of Michael Hunter and Adam Kownacki, two other names linked with the plum job on June 1.
One stumbling block for Ortiz could be the amount of time he has to prepare for the fight. Apparently, his team aren’t happy with the six weeks and this complaint is either being used as a negotiating tactic or is a genuine concern. Regrettably, not all heavyweights stay in camp between fights. Not all heavyweights are ready when they should be (even when there’s a reported $6 million up for grabs).
If there’s one thing we know about Amir Khan it’s that he will challenge pretty much anyone and that he loves a high-profile ‘money’ fight.
Having spent years chasing Floyd Mayweather to no avail, and then deciding to fight Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez at middleweight, Khan’s reputation for going after the money is by now well-established. What’s more, if Saturday’s fight against Terence Crawford is anything to go by, he has no problem taking fights some people say he should avoid and, as with Canelo, attempting to pull off the seemingly impossible.
One fight we really don’t need to see, however, is Amir Khan vs. Conor McGregor. This one, no more than a fantasy matchup, thankfully, was bandied about by Gareth A. Davies on talkSPORT and Khan, as is his custom, showed a willingness to at least entertain it once Saturday’s test against Crawford is over and done with.
“I mean it’s business, isn’t it?” said Khan. “We’re at a level now where it makes great business, like Floyd Mayweather. We all learned from Floyd Mayweather – how he makes fights happen.
“Conor McGregor vs. Amir Khan would be a massive fight. It’d be huge. You’ve got Irish vs. English so that’ll be massive.
“If that happens, I’m not one to turn away from that.”
McGregor recently announced his ‘retirement’ from mixed martial arts but has since teased a possible return – surprise, surprise – and been spotted working on his boxing in Ireland. Khan, meanwhile, has a proper fight on his hands this weekend.
If, and it’s a big if, Khan vs. McGregor ever becomes a thing, it’s not necessarily Khan who has to turn away from it. It’s a money fight, after all. He’ll be well-paid. Instead, it’s our responsibility to do the turning away. The turning over. The turning off.