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Jarrett Hurd, Luis Ortiz bouts lead way on Wilder-Fury undercard

Unified junior middleweight world titleholder Jarrett Hurd and heavyweights Luis "King Kong" Ortiz and Joe Joyce will highlight the televised undercard for the showdown between heavyweight world titleholder Deontay Wilder and lineal champion Tyson Fury, Showtime made official on Friday.

None of the fights announced come as any surprise, as they have been rumored for the Dec. 1 card (Showtime PPV, 9 p.m. ET) at Staples Center in Los Angeles in support of the much-anticipated main event.

Hurd (22-0, 15 KOs), 28, of Accokeek, Maryland, who is coming off surgery on his left shoulder following a hard-fought split decision win over Erislandy Lara to unify two belts in April in a leading fight of the year candidate, will face Jason Welborn (24-6, 7 KOs), 32, of England.

"'Swift' is back and Christmas is coming early," Hurd said. "This is the perfect way to get ready for 2019. I expect it to be a big year with big fights that the fans will love. I'm locked in right now and ready to put on a great performance against Jason Welborn. Tune in on Dec. 1 because I promise you it won't go 12 rounds."

Welborn is a step down in competition for Hurd as he seeks to test his surgically repaired shoulder as well as set up a further unification fight in the first half of 2019 against fellow titleholder Jermell Charlo (31-0, 15 KOs), who is scheduled to first defend his 154-pound belt against Tony Harrison on Dec. 22 in New York.

Welborn, who recently vacated the British middleweight title, has won five fights in a row since back-to-back decision losses in 2016, including a six-rounder to William Warburton, who entered the fight with a record 18-96-8. Welborn will be fighting outside of England for the first time.

"Jarrett Hurd is a big talent who holds [two of] the belts and I respect the challenge he poses," Welborn said. "I was a huge underdog against Tommy Langford in May, and I came through and shocked Britain. In December, I'm going to shock the world. I've been in training camp since my last fight, and I've already been preparing for Hurd's style. This is my time."

Ortiz (29-1, 25 KOs), 39, a Cuban southpaw who fights out of Miami will take on former Travis Kauffman (32-2, 23 KOs), 33, of Reading, Pennsylvania, in a 10-round bout.

Ortiz challenged Wilder for his world title on March 3 and suffered a brutal 10th-round knockout in a fight of the year candidate. He returned on July 28, also at Staples Center, and notched a second-round knockout of former world title challenger Razvan Cojanu on the Mikey Garcia-Robert Easter Jr. undercard.

"I feel blessed to be on the Wilder vs. Fury card and competing on a huge night of boxing in front of a full house," Ortiz said. "In my last fight at Staples Center, the fans showed me so much love, and I can't wait to be back. I know Travis Kauffman has a good record, and I know he's definitely got heart. If all goes as expected and Wilder puts Fury to sleep like I think he will, I want another shot at him ASAP. It will be an epic rematch between me and Wilder.''

Kauffman suffered a majority decision loss to Amir Mansour in March 2017 and has won his only fight since, a majority 10-round decision against club fighter Scott Alexander on June 10. They traded first-round knockdowns.

"I'm looking forward to stepping up and challenging myself in an exciting fight," Kauffman said. "Luis Ortiz is the second-best heavyweight in the world next to Deontay Wilder. But I'm the toughest fighter you'll ever face. This is my chance to prove that I'm a great fighter, and I'm excited to do it on this huge stage."

The Abel Sanchez-trained Joyce (6-0, 6 KOs), 33, who claimed the 2016 Olympic super heavyweight silver medal for Great Britain and is on the fast track as a pro, will face Newark, New Jersey, native Joe Hanks (23-2, 15 KOs), 35, in a 10-rounder that will open the pay-per-view broadcast.

Joyce made his American debut on Sept. 30 and knocked out Iago Kiladze in the fifth round knowing a win would likely lock up a spot on the Wilder-Fury pay-per-view.

"It's an honor to be part of this huge event, and I give a lot of credit to Joe Hanks for stepping up and taking this fight," Joyce said. "Hanks has a good record, but I am coming to take him out. If everything goes to plan and I come through this fight as I should, I am ready for a big fight early next year to show that I'm a force in this division."

Since suffering back-to-back losses to Andy Ruiz Jr., by fourth-round knockout in July 2013, and a majority 10-round decision loss to journeyman Derric Rossy in May 2014, Hanks has fought just twice and defeated low-level opponents in scheduled six-round fights in December 2017 and on Sept. 25.

"It feels good to be in the mix and getting exposure with the top heavyweights," Hanks said. "I bring speed, athleticism and power to this fight. I've got a lot of great experience in my career sparring against guys like Deontay Wilder and Wladimir Klitschko, so I'm comfortable against a guy like Joe Joyce. I live in Los Angeles now and this is going to be like fighting in my front yard. I'm going to be feeling good on fight night."