NEW YORK (AFP) - Undefeated American heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder will defend his World Boxing Council crown in March against unbeaten Cuban contender Luis Ortiz in New York, promoters announced on Friday (Jan 12).
The move comes amid reports that rival unbeaten champions Anthony Joshua of Britain and Joseph Parker of New Zealand are in final talks to fight in March and that could set the stage for the winners to meet for the undisputed crown later this year.
Wilder's title bout will be staged on March 3 at Barclays Centre in Brooklyn, the same venue where Wilder stopped Canada's Bermane Stiverne in the first round last November in the sixth defence of the crown he took from Stiverne in 2015, with his three-year reign being the longest in the division.
Wilder is 39-0 with 38 knockouts, with his only fight reaching the distance being the 2015 Stiverne bout, while Ortiz is 28-0 with 24 knockouts.
"We are thrilled to welcome the heavyweight champ back to Barclays Centre," said Brett Yormark, chief executive of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment.
"Deontay's long-awaited bout with Ortiz is sure to be one of 2018's best matchups."
Joshua, the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation champion, is 20-0 with 20 knockouts and according to the BBC, nearly set for a March 31 bout in Cardiff against Parker, the World Boxing Organisation champion who is 24-0 with 18 knockouts.
After stopping Stiverne in November, Wilder called out Joshua, saying, "I been waiting on that boy for a long time now. Listen mate. I know I am the best. Are you up for the test? I want Joshua. Joshua come and see me baby."
Joshua says his goal is to unify the titles and fight all champions by the end of this year.