Gilberto Jesus Mendoza, president of the WBA, recently met with WBA interim heavyweight titlist Luis Ortiz and Super World bantamweight titleholder Juan Carlos Payano at the Caicedo Sports Gym in Miami.
Thirty-six-year-old Ortiz, aka The Real King Kong, fights out of Miami by way of Cuba. An undefeated six-year ring vet (24-0, 21 KOs, 2 no contests), Ortiz scored the interim title last October by knocking out Matias Ariel Vidondo in the third. First-ranked by the WBA, King Kong defended his crown two months later, stopping Bryant Jennings by seventh-round TKO. The southpaw’s scheduled to fight on Saturday, March 5, though an opponent has yet to be named. He’s also slated to face Alexander Ustinov as part of the WBA heavyweight tournament, which is intended to determine a single champion. In addition to Ortiz’s interim championship, Tyson Fury is the sanctioning body’s Super World titlist, while Ruslan Chagaev is the World titleholder.
Although born in the Dominican Republic, Payano now lives in Miami. In fact, he lives at the gym where Mendoza found him. A 31-year-old southpaw, Payano is an undefeated six-year pro (17-0, 8 KOs) who won the title in September 2014 by beating Anselmo Moreno via sixth-round technical decision, the result of an accidental headbutt that took place in the second. He defended his title last August, beating previously undefeated Rau’shee Warren by split decision, scoring the vacant IBO World bantamweight title at the same time. Because the bout was so closely contested, a rematch was planned for that November, only to be postponed due to an injury suffered by Payano. The fight is likely to take place in March. According to Mendoza, Payano is also eager for his mandatory with WBA World bantamweight champ Jamie McDonnell.
“Luis and Payano, they’re like two peas in a pod,” said gym owner German “Herman” Caicedo. “If Luis is ‘King Kong,’ then Payano is ‘Mighty Joe Young.’ They are always in the gym; Payano practically runs the place.”
This article was penned by the author who is not related to the WBA and the statements, expressions or opinions referenced herein are that of the author alone and not the WBA.