HOLLYWOOD, FL. – Top heavyweight Luis “King Kong” Ortiz scored a sixth-round TKO of former heavyweight champion Charles Martin in a dramatic IBF Heavyweight Title Eliminator showdown that headlined a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View Saturday night from Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
In a back and forth battle that topped a five-fight all-heavyweight pay-per-view, Ortiz (33-2, 28 KOs) recovered from two knockdowns to earn the TKO over the former heavyweight titleholder Martin (28-3-1, 25 KOs). The fight got off to a hot start in round one, with Martin landing a bruising left hand to the side of Ortiz’s head that sent him down late in the frame.
While Ortiz was able to regain his composure and do effective body work and snap his jab, Martin struck once again at the end of round four, landing a hard jab with his right hand that put Ortiz down for the second time in the fight.
“I was very focused during this fight,” said Ortiz. “I was never worried. My trainer just told me to keep working the jab and that’s what I was able to do.”
In a battle of gargantuan southpaws, Ortiz landed the left hand that ultimately decided the fight, connecting on a counter early in round six that immediately dazed Martin, who looked potentially out on his feet. Ortiz quickly followed up with a flurry and scored the knockdown, leaving Martin with his glove tied up in the ropes.
“It was very difficult going southpaw against southpaw,” said Ortiz. “At the end of the day, my intelligence won the fight.”
Martin was able to rise to his feet and looked to hold on with over two minutes left in the round, but Ortiz was relentless in his attack and eventually forced referee Frank Santore Jr. to wave off the bout 1:37 into round six. Despite trailing on all three scorecards coming into the final round, Ortiz landed an impressive 57 percent of his power punches in the fight, including 19 of 23 in round six, according to CompuBox.
“I maintained faith the entire time,” said Ortiz. “I knew I had my family and these fans behind me. I told everyone that this fight would be fireworks. He knocked me down, but then I finished him. I respect him a lot and now I’m coming after every heavyweight in line for the title.”
In the co-main event, rising heavyweight star Frank “The Cuban Flash” Sanchez (20-0, 13 KOs) dominated Christian Hammer (26-9, 16 KOs) on his way to a unanimous decision victory after 10 rounds of action.
“To see Canelo there, supporting me like he was definitely motivated me even more,” said Sanchez. “He always supports me and everyone that’s with him in his gym. It makes me want to keep improving.”
Sanchez entered the fight after earning a career-best victory in October 2021 over then-unbeaten Efe Ajagba, and kicked off 2022 showing the supreme boxing skill that has put him on the radar as a potential future heavyweight champion. The 29-year-old Sanchez has risen up the rankings under the tutelage of renowned coach Eddy Reynoso and received ringside encouragement Saturday night from stablemate and pound-for-pound star Canelo Alvarez.
Hammer proved why he has become a durable veteran contender at heavyweight and hung tough with Sanchez, who controlled the fight with a strong jab and a sharp and relentless body attack. Throughout the course of the action Sanchez landed 36 punches to the body and seemed to hurt him to the body in round three, forcing Hammer to retreat to the ropes.
Sanchez scored a knockdown late in round 10 to punctuate the performance and put together an impressive 87 to 24 advantage in total punches landed, including a 27% to 13% accuracy edge. After 10 rounds, all three judges saw the fight 100-89 in favor of Sanchez.
“I feel very happy,” said Sanchez. “Starting out the year like this with another win in front of all the Cuban fans here in Miami is amazing.”
In a 10-round rematch, Jonnie Rice (15-6-1, 10 KOs) earned a unanimous decision over Michael Coffie (12-2, 9 KOs), following up on his upset victory in their first fight, when he stepped in as a late replacement to stop Coffie in July 2021.
“The key to victory was my mom,” said Rice. “My mom texted me and called me and told me tonight was going to be a test of my endurance. You have to always trust your mom.”
Coffie looked to reverse the outcome from their first fight by coming out in a southpaw stance, and was able to deter Rice from coming forward early, but did not end up opening up his own offense at the same time. The offense from both men was slow to develop early, with each man landing 16 punches through the first three rounds.
Rice began to take control of the fight in round four, connecting with a straight right hand during an exchange that seemed to stagger Rice. That stagger was all Rice needed to begin opening up his offense, pouring on power punches against Coffie. After another similar onslaught in round six, Coffie began to start bleeding from his left eye that was quickly closing.
The eye made it tough for Coffie to avoid the oncoming attack, while Rice was careful not to leave himself open for a counter from the powerful Coffie. In the second half of the fight, Rice was able to build his lead with a 69 to 25 edge in punches landed in rounds six through ten.
After 10 rounds, all three judges saw the fight in favor of Rice, with tallies of 97-93 twice and 99-91.
“This changes my life, I can quit my job,” said Rice. “I’m watching everybody in the heavyweight division. I’m watching everybody and I’m ready for any of them.”
“No excuses from me, he was the better fighter tonight,” said Coffie. “I couldn’t see out of my left eye for the last third of the fight. It is what it is. It happens.”
The lineup also saw Turkish Olympian Ali Eren Demirezen (15-1, 12 KOs) score a career-best victory with an eighth-round stoppage of former title challenger Gerald “El Gallo Negro” Washington (20-5-1, 13 KOs).
“We prepared very well for this fight,” said Demirezen. “I knew that I was going to go out there and get a dominating victory. I’m very happy and proud of my performance tonight. This is a great night for my country of Turkey.”
Washington got off to a strong start in the fight, connecting with combinations early through the high guard of Demirezen and showing superior activity on his way to a 48-34 edge in punches landed over the first three rounds. As the fight went into the middle rounds, Demirezen was able to close the distance against his taller opponent and increased his activity as Washington tried to evade him around the ring.
By the end of round five, the power-punching onslaught from Demirezen slowed Washington down significantly and caused swelling in both eyes in addition to a cut below Washington’s right eye. Demirezen out landed Washington in each of rounds four through seven, piling up an 84 to 59 edge in power punches landed.
Early in round eight, Demirezen connected on a sharp straight right hand that immediately appeared to hurt Washington, who began to wobble as he tried to avoid a follow-up attack. Washington’s corner had seen enough at that point, as they signaled to referee Frank Santore Jr. to stop the fight, with the final stoppage coming 27 seconds into the round. Washington led 67-66 on two cards at the time of the stoppage, with the third card scored 67-66 for Demirezen.
“This is my dream, I’m going to keep fighting the U.S. and become a world champion,” said Demirezen. “I’m going to take it fight by fight and keep winning. I’m here to stay.”
The action packed pay-per-view opener saw five knockdowns in less than two rounds as Viktor Faust (9-0, 7 KOs) remained unbeaten via second-round TKO over a game Iago Kiladze (30-6, 11 KOs).
“I felt very confident in the fight,” said Faust. “This was a great win for my career. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but I’m proud of this victory today.”
In a wild first round that saw both men hit the canvas, Faust struck first, connecting on a left hook that dropped Kiladze less than a minute into the round. With Faust looking to finish the fight quickly, Kiladze unloaded a missile counter right hand that sent Faust tumbling into the ropes and to the mat.
The first round action was not over yet, as Faust would go on to score a second knockdown in the round, again connecting with a clean left hook. In round two, the fireworks continued, with Kiladze striking first via another counter right hand that dropped Faust.
Despite the onslaught, Faust was able to return fire once again, landing a left hand-right hook combination that put Kiladze on the mat for the third time in the fight. This time, referee Samuel Burgos waved off the bout at 1:44 into round, ending the fight to the disgust of Kiladze, who pleaded to continue after the fight was called.
“The stoppage was definitely unexpected, but from the way things were going, it was inevitable,” said Faust.
Preceding the pay-per-view, action on FOX was headlined by rising lightweight contender Frank Martin (15-0, 11 KOs) delivering a fourth-round TKO victory over Romero Duno (24-3, 19 KOs) 2:54 into the round.
Also on FOX, Lenier Pero (6-0, 3 KOs) emerged victorious in an eight-round battle of unbeaten Cuban heavyweights, defeating Geovany Bruzon (6-1, 5 KOs) by unanimous decision with scores of 78-74 and 77-75 twice.
Photos Courtesy of Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions