LOS ANGELES (Feb. 8, 2016) – Fresh from a stunning knockout of Bryant “By-By” Jennings and eager to continue his quest to be the best heavyweight in the sport, WBA Interim Heavyweight World Champion Luis “The Real King Kong” Ortiz (24-0, 21 KOs) will make his first title defense of 2016 when he faces former world title challenger Tony “The Tiger” Thompson (40-6, 27 KOs) in 12-round main event at the DC Armory, in Washington D.C.on Saturday, March 5 and televised live on HBO Boxing After Dark®beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Opening up the live telecast, top contender and 2008 Olympian Sadam “World Kid” Ali (22-0, 13 KOs) will face former WBA Super Lightweight World Champion Jessie Vargas (26-1, 9 KOs) in a 12-round co-main event for the vacant WBO Welterweight World Championship.
“This fight is just another stepping stone on my path to becoming the unified heavyweight world champion,” said Luis Ortiz. “I came to the United States to chase my American Dream and fighting at the nation’s capital is a dream come true. My life is coming full circle, and I know that this fight will put me a step closer to achieving everything I have worked so hard for in my career.”
“I’m happy to be back on HBO fighting for another world title,” said Tony Thompson. “If you look at my competition and his [Ortiz], it’s not even close. This isn’t the amateurs. I’m going to use my experience as a professional to take him places he’s never been. Odlanier Solis was a great Cuban amateur but he was also an Olympic Gold Medalist, and I beat him twice. Ortiz thinks he has it tough. I’ve been avoided for my entire career. Just about all my fights have been on short notice and in foreign countries. If I fought the guys Ortiz fought, I’d be undefeated too. If Ortiz is King Kong, I’m Godzilla; Godzilla coming to whoop some ass!”
“Luis Ortiz and Sadam Ali are two top fighters in our sport today and both will impress audiences in the ring on March 5 in their first fights of 2016,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. “Luis demonstrated in his brilliant knockout over Bryant Jennings in December that he is an elite fighter that can dominate even the toughest opponent. Sadam Ali is a phenomenal fighter, and I think he is the future of the welterweight division, which is very exciting.”
“Tony Thompson is a very talented hard punching contender who has beaten David Price and Odlanier Solis twice each over the last 2 years,” said Leon R. Margules, President of Warriors Boxing and Promotions. “Luis Ortiz will have his hands full on March 5 in clearly his toughest challenge to date, and in Tony’s hometown. We are very excited he is getting this opportunity.”
“We are excited to televise a heavyweight knockout machine like Luis Ortiz in a tough bout on a big stage against Tony Thompson on March 5 in our nation’s capital,” said Peter Nelson, Executive Vice President, HBO Sports. “The winner will take a significant step up in the public’s esteem. The Ali-Vargas co-feature is a terrific 50-50 fight at welterweight that has fans eager to see who will come out on top.”
“To fight for the world championship is something that I have been training and fighting for my whole career,” said Sadam Ali. “I am grateful for the opportunity and promise all my fans I will not let them down. On March 5, I will have my hands raised up in victory as the new WBO Welterweight World Champion.”
“This is a different Jessie Vargas,” said Jessie Vargas. “I learned a lot from my last fight and I am ready to prove that I am still a world champion. I’m coming back with a Vengeance!”
“Jessie Vargas knows what’s at stake this time around” said Carl Moretti, VP, Top Rank. “He plans to take full advantage of this opportunity and we fully expect his hand to be raised as the winner in what promises to be a great fight.”