Heavyweight contender Luis "The Real King Kong" Ortiz, perhaps the most feared big man in boxing, will be back in the ring on April 22.
Ortiz will face Derric Rossy in a 10-round bout that will take place on the undercard of the welterweight title elimination fight between former titleholders Shawn Porter and Andre Berto at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Ortiz and Rossy met the media at a news conference at a Manhattan steakhouse Thursday to announce the fight, which will be televised, although it has not been determined yet whether it will air as part of the Showtime telecast (9 p.m. ET) featuring Porter-Berto and the Jermell Charlo-Charles Hatley junior middleweight world title bout or on Showtime Extreme, where preliminary fights typically air.
Ortiz's addition to the card came one day after he signed with adviser Al Haymon, who controls the April 22 show, and the day after his 38th birthday. Naturally, he was presented with a birthday cake at the news conference.
"I'm not a man of many words, but yesterday was my birthday, so with that extra year of experience, I'll speak a little bit more," Ortiz said through a translator. "I'm ready to fight right now. I'm waiting for the opportunity to fight the winner of Anthony Joshua versus Wladimir Klitschko [who meet in an April 29 world title fight]. They better get ready, because 'King Kong' will be waiting for them.
"My plan is to become the heavyweight champion of the world. I feel like I'm with the right team now that will open those doors for me. Whoever they put in front of me, I will take care of them."
Lou DiBella, promoter of the card, said he was pleased to add a fighter of Ortiz's caliber to the show.
"The biggest announcement is that a very big man is going to be on this card. All Luis Ortiz has done as a professional fighter is knock guys out," DiBella said. "He's one of the most feared and avoided men in the heavyweight division. Ortiz and his team want the biggest fights out there. He knows that being seen on a card of this magnitude is a tremendous opportunity. I know that Luis Ortiz has a big victory in mind on April 22 that will propel him to a bigger fight and eventually to the biggest fights in the world. This guy deserves the opportunity."
The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Ortiz (27-0, 23 KOs), who defected from Cuba and fights out of Miami, is a heavy-handed southpaw few top opponents have been willing to fight. He looms as one of the mandatory challengers for the Joshua-Klitschko winner and made his name with a dominant seventh-round knockout of former world title challenger Bryant Jennings in December 2015.
But after one more knockout win against Tony Thompson last March, Ortiz had a falling-out with co-promoter Golden Boy Promotions. His team, which includes Dade Promotions, bought out his contract for more than $1 million and he then began working with Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, who gave him two fights, both of which Ortiz won handily in England.
But with nothing on the immediate horizon and unable to get a fight finalized for the Joshua-Klitschko undercard, Ortiz manager Jay Jimenez told ESPN they elected to go with Haymon, who represents a slew of potential opponents for Ortiz, including titleholder Deontay Wilder, Dominic Breazeale, Izuagbe Ugonoh, Chris Arreola, Artur Szpilka, Travis Kauffman and Gerald Washington.
"I feel it was the right move," Jimenez said, adding that their deal with Hearn had been on a fight-by-fight basis. "Al's track record is good and he has a lot of guys we could face like Deontay Wilder. Time is not on our side. Luis turned 38. It was a great birthday present to sign and get him on this card but we don't have time to waste at his age and Al said he would get behind us.
"Eddie Hearn is a great promoter but we had to move on. Maybe if Luis was 22 it would be different. But things got to a standstill for the Joshua-Klitschko card. We were getting sidelined and I couldn't wait no more. Haymon had been asking to make a deal for a while. So we did and we're ready to go. Luis said to tell Haymon just line 'em up."
First up is Rossy (31-12, 15 KOs), a 36-year-old journeyman from Medford, New York, who typically gives opponents a tough fight, win or lose.
"When they brought the fight to me, I said let's do it. We're doing it right by fighting at Barclays Center," Rossy said. "This is a real fight. I'm always ready. The fans are who pays us and they want to see a legitimate fight.
"I think our styles will match up well. He throws his hands well and I think I do the same. There might be some bull in a china shop, but then it could turn. We both adapt well in the ring. We're going to go at it. I've fought a lot of really good heavyweights. I won't know how he stacks up until I get in there with him. All I know is that he's tough, rugged and good. I'm going to win this fight and it's going to set up some big things. I'm in this business to get a world title. I have to go through Luis Ortiz to get there."
Ortiz knows there has been a lot of discussion about his age, but he has taken little punishment since turning pro in 2010 after arriving in the United States.
"Age is nothing to me. So many fighters have competed into their late age. I still have a lot left in the tank," he said. "Once I get past this bout, it's on to bigger and better things. I would love to fight Deontay Wilder. We're both big, tough fighters. These are the kind of fights that people want to see. I know that my time will come.
"We're looking forward to this new relationship and this first fight on April 22. I can't wait to get out there in front of the fans and show my skills. I believe it will finally be time for 'King Kong' to come out of the jungle."
The card will also include Puerto Rican Amanda Serrano (31-1-1, 23 KOs), of Brooklyn, who has won world titles in four weight classes. She currently holds a junior featherweight title but will drop down to vie for a bantamweight belt against an opponent to be determined.
"I can't wait to get back in the ring and put on a show in front of the fans. That's what I love to do and it'll be great to do it at Barclays Center," Serrano, 28, said of the arena where she has had two of her past three fights. "I'm motivated to make history. This would be my sixth world title in five weight divisions. This is a goal that my whole team has had. We want me to be the first Puerto Rican fighter to conquer five divisions. I want to be known as the girl who made history."
Serrano's bout will also be televised, be it on Showtime or Showtime Extreme, Stephen Espinoza, who runs the network's sports division, told ESPN.
"No matter who is in front of me, my eye is on the title," Serrano said. "This is the one that I want more than anything. I always put on a show for my fans in Brooklyn and my eyes are on the prize."