Mancuso: Title Mixes At Barclays

This was not a classic heavyweight bout Saturday night  at Barclays Center In Brooklyn But Luis “King Kong” Ortiz of Cuba and Christian Hammer of Germany were fighting to go another step in a division that has made a comeback with champions Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder.

Ortiz had a classic 12-round battle with Wilder last March at Barclays. In that bout, Ortiz put Wilder on the mat and he was eventually knocked down and stopped in the 10th round. He lost a quest for the WBC heavyweight title.

But that setback for Ortiz did not stop his quest to be a part of the revived heavyweight division. The PBC and Showtime were capable to realize that the heavyweight division has made the comeback. They still have Wilder, the WBC champion, though two of the big three heavyweights that are making noise have moved on.

Tyson Fury signed a mega deal last week with Top Rank and their ESPN streaming network. Anthony Joshua has always been with Ed Hearn and Matchroom. With the DAZN streaming network, Joshua will make his United States debut at Madison Square Garden June 1st and defend portions of the heavyweight titles against Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller.

So the heavyweight division has returned to be a part of this boxing revival and the story here continues to also center on soon to be 40-year old Luis Ortiz. That fight with Wilder made believers out of the skeptics and that quest for a heavyweight title never stopped.

Saturday night at Barclays Center was not classic. By all means it was one to not  be remembered. But Ortiz got the unanimous 10-round decision and remained in that hunt to be the first heavyweight champion from Cuba.

Credit: Tom Casino/Showtime

“The fight wasn’t what I expecting” Ortiz said. “It was a hard fight and my corner really had to work with me. It was a hard fight.  After I got the rhythm, I heated up a little bit. Every heavyweight out there should know that I still have it at 40. Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder. I’m ready.”

Ortiz, 31-1, 26 KO’s, felt he did what had to be done. He added,”I fought a fight that I hadn’t for years which is box and work. So I’m not disappointed. I didn’t knock him out. I showed some of my boxing skills tonight.”  

However, boxing fans want to see knockouts. They want to see heavyweights go at it. They want punches and jabs as good as the exciting welterweight, middleweight, light heavyweight and junior welterweight divisions. Fighters in those divisions have become a part of this boxing revival and the money has been been thrown around with streaming services, Showtime and the PBC in the mix.

Luis Ortiz, a big guy and with a great story remained a part of this mix in the heavyweight division.

LARA DENIED 154-TITLE: Before a disappointing crowd of 7,329, and for the second time in a year, Cuban Erislandy Lara was denied a world title. In a tight 12-round contest for the WBA Super Welterweight title, Lara and champion Brian Castano fought to a draw that went to a split decision.

The judges at ringside had it 115-114 for Castano  who lost for the first time in 16 fights. Two others had it 114-114, that resulted in a draw. This columnist had it 115-113 for Lara.  Last April, Jarrett Hurd defeated Lara for the title via a 12-round split decision in Las Vegas in what was classified as one of the fights of the year.

A rematch with Hurd and Lara is now in question for the title. At 154, there may be other options for Castano. Lara, though, disappointed, hopes he can get another chance to wear a title. It appeared that Lara had won the last four rounds that put him back into a fight that was otherwise not a classic that has been seen in the ring at Barclays the past few years.

“If we have to fight him again, Hurd or Castano,” Lara said. “Anybody. I’ll have the rematch with both.

However, with the division belonging to Hurd, and with Castano defending his portion of the title, the 35-year old Lara may be running out of time.

Comment: [email protected]  Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso




About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

Get connected with us on Social Media