When the news broke last week that Luis Ortiz had failed another drug test, therefore rendering his upcoming fight with Deontay Wilder dead in the water, there was sure to be plenty of people within Wilder’s team that sighed in relief. Though he is a former Olympian and the reigning WBC Heavyweight champion of the world, Wilder is also the most coddled and protected fighter of many years, possibly since the mob-controlled days of the 1930s. With a career-high payday against UK superstar Anthony Joshua presumably locked in for 2018, Wilder decided he had heard enough criticism about his terrible opposition and opted to make a fight against the opponent who almost definitely was going to derail that train.
Barring a miracle, there was no way that Deontay Wilder was going to beat Luis Ortiz. Wilder’s form is so poor, often looking as if he’ll fall over the force of his own blows, that it would have been generous to say he had a puncher’s chance against an opponent so tactically sound and powerful as Ortiz. Being befuddled by Gerald Washington’s jab and troubled by the likes of Artur Szpilka did not bode well for him, and Ortiz was bound to either catch Wilder amid his own excitement with a brutal counter shot or would have boxed his ears off en route to a humiliatingly lopsided decision.
That’s not the point now. The Joshua fight is safe, Wilder is safe and it’s unbelievable that Ortiz is the third opponent in the past 18 months to fail a drug test ahead of fighting Wilder. Ortiz twice failed drug tests ahead of his fights, each coming at seemingly critical points of the aging Cuban Heavyweight’s career. Unlike previous moments where he simply was just an idiot for testing positive, it is shocking that there are people out there that are openly floating some bullshit that Wilder’s team somehow sabotaged Ortiz and thereby saving the Joshua fight.
It is as stupid as it sounds. There is not enough evidence to suggest a conspiracy, nor are there enough unanswered questions to suggest foul play. Ortiz claimed that the positive test came because of blood pressure medication that would be flagged as a masking agent for anabolic steroids, and it came from medication prescribed to him. VADA does not discriminate or overlook any results, not for Lamont Peterson or Andre Berto and certainly not for a lesser fighter of stature as Ortiz.
Ortiz’s aha moment fell on deaf ears, especially because it revealed that he forgot to disclose all medications he was taking as per protocol and lead to questions to further his stupidity regarding why he is even fighting if he’s taking medications for high blood pressure and potential kidney failure. It’s the same as James Toney and Antonio Tarver before him; getting caught more than once with it being impossible each time.
Boxing fans are a fickle bunch, so they drew up a cockamamie theory that Wilder botched the fight according to plan. The running thought is that Wilder’s team made the Ortiz fight with the knowledge of his reputation in the past as well as the WBC’s mandatory clean fighter program would be enough to potentially tank the fight from the beginning and that any amount of banned substance, no matter how minute or miniscule, would lead to an immediate cancellation of a fight they didn’t want in the first place.
Ortiz WAS that dangerous to Wilder, much in the same vein as Alexander Povetkin was around this time last year. Wilder’s team had a strong aversion to fighting the much more polished Povetkin, even though he was his mandatory for many months. When Povetkin tested positive for a small, but acceptable amount, of a recently banned substance that could potentially have been in his system, Wilder’s team immediately called the fight off. Like Ortiz, there was plenty of doubts if Wilder could pull off a win against Povetkin, let alone get a decision in Russia.
Ahead of the shocking announcement of the fight a few weeks ago, it was no secret that Wilder’s team ran into a series of roadblocks for their next opponent. They owed Bermane Stiverne a mandatory rematch to his title, but no network was willing to entertain that fight due to the boring and one-sided nature of the fight. Stiverne was not only paid a step-aside fee to make Wilder/Ortiz happen, but given a slot on the undercard against Dominic Brezeale, making it very easy for Stiverne to be upgraded to main event status in a ballsy switcharoo.
The beneficially of all of this is of course Wilder, and that’s why there are some that can look at themselves in the mirror and buy this snake oil. Does Wilder benefit from all of this? Absolutely. The card is still going to happen, and worst-case scenario if Stiverne doesn’t feel ready to proceed, Brezeale is just as ready to step in like Washington was back in February and we still have a fight. Unless Anthony Joshua loses to Kubrat Pulev in a few weeks, everything will go according to plan and Wilder will cash out in London once he knows his belt will not be stripped from him.
All things considered, the most likely explanation is the best one: Luis Ortiz, a repeat offender for banned substances and a total idiot, coughed up the only shot he’ll ever get at a world title by pissing hot. To no fault of his own, Wilder saw the one fight to truly legitimize his title reign and quash his critics ahead of the fight he probably will lose in spectacular fashion go frustratingly up in smoke. A lot of people are mad, though I’m sure some people are happy, but there’s nothing to see here.
Convenient? Absolutely. Conspiracy? Absolutely not.