Heavyweight contender Luis "King Kong" Ortiz, who was cleared last week by the WBC for his recent failed drug test but remains suspended by the WBA, will return to the ring on Friday night.
Ortiz, added to the show on Monday, will face journeyman Daniel Martz in a scheduled 10-round bout on the Premier Boxing Champions card (Fox Sports 1/Fox Deportes, 9 p.m. ET) at Hialeah Park in Hialeah, Florida.
Ortiz, who has failed two drug tests for banned substances in the past three years, failed his most recent one on Sept. 22 as he was preparing to challenge world titleholder Deontay Wilder in a much-anticipated Nov. 4 showdown. Ortiz tested positive for two banned diuretics, chlorothaizide 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 and was dropped from the bout.
Ortiz claimed the positive tests were caused by ingesting medication to control high blood pressure. After an investigation, the WBC last week said it accepted Ortiz's reason for the failed test and said it would re-instate him in its rankings, though it still imposed a $25,000 fine for failing to disclose the medication he was taking as is required by the WBC Clean Boxing Program.
Ortiz remains suspended from participating in any WBA-sanctioned bout for a year for the failed test. Friday's fight with Martz likely won't last long, but it's a chance for the 38-year-old Cuban defector Ortiz (27-0, 23 KOs), a big-punching southpaw who fights out of Miami, to shake off the rust of a 13-month layoff and set himself up for the possibility of having the fight with Wilder put back together for early 2018.
"I'm just thankful to be back in the sport I love so much," Ortiz said. "I can't wait to get some action and feel that ring and those gloves tight on my wrist. I'd like to thank everyone, especially my loyal fans, who stood by me and supported me through this rough time. I don't think it would have been possible without you guys.
"I'd like to thank the WBC and Mr. (Mauricio) Sulaiman (the WBC president) for being humane enough to take time for their investigation, and my entire team who never lost faith in me. But most of all I need to thank God because without him there wouldn't be anything worth living for."
Martz (16-5-1, 13 KOs), 27, of Clarksburg, West Virginia, has been knocked out four of his five losses and has lost three of his last five fights, including a second-round knockout to contender Bryant Jennings on Aug. 19 on the Terence Crawford-Julius Indongo undercard in Lincoln, Nebraska.
In September 2014, Ortiz fought for the WBA's vacant interim heavyweight belt and scored a blistering first-round knockout of Lateef Kayode in Las Vegas. But the pre-fight urine sample he provided to the Nevada State Athletic Commission was positive for the banned anabolic steroid Nandrolone in the post-fight drug screen. The belt was taken away from Ortiz, the result of the fight was changed to a no decision, and Ortiz was fined and suspended for eight months by the Nevada commission.
The main event of Friday's card features light heavyweight prospect Ahmed Elbiali, (16-0, 13 KOs), 27, a native of Egypt fighting out of Miami, stepping up in competition to take on faded former world champion Jean Pascal (31-5-1, 18 KOs), 35, of Montreal, in a scheduled 10-round bout. The telecast will also feature an eight-round between featherweight prospects Stephen Fulton (11-0, 5 KOs), 23, of Philadelphia, and Adam Lopez (8-0, 3 KOs), 21, of Glendale, California, and a 10-rounder between welterweights Bryant Perrella (14-1, 13 KOs), 28, of Fort Myers, Florida, and Alex Martin (13-2, 5 KOs), 28, of Chicago. The originally co-feature between former light heavyweight world champion Chad Dawson (34-5, 19 KOs) and Edwin Rodriguez (29-2, 20 KOs) was called off because Dawson suffered an undisclosed injury in training camp. The fight could be rescheduled for a PBC card in early 2018.