Heavyweight world titleholder Deontay Wilder is giving Luis “King Kong” Ortiz another chance.
Wilder will defend his title against Ortiz on March 3 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, organizers announced Friday.
The fight will come almost four months to the day that they were first supposed to meet — Nov. 4, also at Barclays Center — but Ortiz was dropped from the fight after he tested positive for two banned diuretics.
“It’s one of the toughest fights you could make for Deontay Wilder and it’s certainly a challenge for him,” promoter Lou DiBella, who will put on the fight, told ESPN. “He feels like he has an axe to grind with Luis Ortiz and he’s going to swing that axe on March 3.”
Showtime will produce the event and will televise it either on Showtime or on sister network CBS. A news conference is in the works for next week when the broadcast outlet should be announced.
Ortiz tested positive for chlorothiazide and hydrochlorothiazide, known to be masking agents for performance-enhancing drugs, in a random urine test conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association as part of the WBC’s Clean Boxing Program. It was Ortiz’s second failed drug test in three years.
Ortiz claimed the positive drug test was caused by medication he was taking to control high blood pressure and the WBC, after an investigation, accepted Ortiz’s reason for the positive test and reinstated him in its rankings to make him eligible to fight for Wilder’s belt.
Ortiz returned on Dec. 8 for a second-round knockout of Daniel Martz in a tune-up fight and then went nose to nose with Wilder, who was at the fight, in the ring afterward.
During their WWE-style faceoff, Ortiz (28-0, 24 KOs), a 38-year-old Cuban defector fighting out of Miami, said he still wanted to fight Wilder and Wilder said he would give him another chance.
When their November fight was canceled, Wilder instead faced late replacement and mandatory challenger Bermane Stiverne in a rematch and knocked him out in the first round, fulfilling his promise to take out his anger at Ortiz on Stiverne.
Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs), 32, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, has been extremely outspoken about the need to rid boxing of fighters caught using performance-enhancing drugs.
“I was ready the first time. This is a new day for you,” Wilder told Ortiz in the ring that night. “I think you’re one of the best heavyweights in the world and I want to prove that I am the best. We must fight each other. You will have your fight. Be ready, I don’t want no excuses. I’m gonna whoop your ass.”