Heavyweight Luis "King Kong" Ortiz, who holds an interim world title and is perhaps the most feared big man in boxing, signed a promotional agreement with British promoter Matchroom Boxing, the company announced Saturday.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the signing comes six weeks after Ortiz's camp paid $1 million to Golden Boy Promotions to buy out his promotional contract because they were unhappy with the agreement.
The signing comes as a bit of a surprise because Ortiz was close to signing a deal with Roc Nation Sports that would have commenced with an appearance on the HBO PPV undercard of the Sergey Kovalev-Andre Ward light heavyweight title fight on Nov. 19 in Las Vegas.
Now Ortiz is with Eddie Hearn's company, which could pave the way to an eventual fight with world titleholder Anthony Joshua (17-0, 17 KOs).
"Luis Ortiz is one of the most exciting heavyweights in the world and I am delighted to be working with him," Hearn said. "We plan to keep him very busy and let the fans enjoy his devastating power. Luis is an avoided fighter but we plan on giving him the profile that will make that impossible."
Hearn said Ortiz's first bout of their deal will be announced Monday. Ortiz, a 37-year-old southpaw, is expected to fight fringe contender Carlos Takam (33-3-1, 25 KOs), 35, of France, on Nov. 12 in Monte Carlo on the card that includes junior lightweight titlist Jason Sosa defending his secondary title against Stephen Smith. Takam is coming off a 12-round decision loss top contender Joseph Parker on May 21.
"First stop for 'King Kong' will be announced on Monday on a huge card in November and then we plan to get him out in the U.K. straight after, potentially on the Anthony Joshua card [in late November or December]. I'm very excited to work with our first international fighter as we continue to expand into new markets."
Ortiz (25-0, 22 KOs), a Cuban defector based in Miami, said he was pleased to have a new deal following the uncertainty of the past couple of months.
"I always had faith in my manager and friend Jay Jimenez, but I never expect this fast turnaround and I'm so excited about the future," Ortiz said. "God has been great to me and my family. I'm ready. I'm going to be very busy over the next few months and looking forward to boxing in many countries as we continue my journey to the heavyweight world championship."
Ortiz's rise began in 2014 when he smashed Lateef Kayode in a first-round knockout win to claim an interim heavyweight belt in Las Vegas. However, he tested positive for a banned steroid following the bout and was stripped of the title, fined and suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The result of the fight was changed to a no decision.
Golden Boy stuck by Ortiz and brought him back after his suspension. After a first-round knockout of journeyman Byron Polley in a tune-up fight, he knocked out Matias Ariel Vidondo in the third round to claim the still-vacant interim belt.
Golden Boy then lined up the 6-foot-4, 240-pound Ortiz with two high-profile fights on HBO, a sensational seventh-round destruction of former world title challenger Bryant Jennings last December followed by a one-sided sixth-round knockout of former two-time world title challenger Tony Thompson in March.
Ortiz was next supposed to defend his interim belt in a mandatory defense against Alexander Ustinov (33-1, 24 KOs). Golden Boy hoped to place the fight on the Canelo Alvarez-Liam Smith pay-per-view card that took place Sept. 17, but friction with the Ortiz camp and a dispute over the purse killed the deal and led to the buyout.
It is unclear what the status is of the mandatory bout against Ustinov, whose promoter, Andrey Ryabinsky's World of Boxing, won a purse bid for $600,000, of which Ortiz is entitled to 60 percent ($360,000). There have been ongoing issues finalizing the bout because of a disagreement between the sides on how the drug testing would be handled.