By Keith Idec
LOS ANGELES – Travis Kauffman knows every time he steps into a boxing ring that there’s a chance neither he nor his opponent will leave it as healthy as when their fight began.
That’s among the reasons Kaumann never considered using performance-enhancing drugs.
Permanently injuring an opponent or worse would be tough enough on Kauffman’s conscience. It would be unbearable for the veteran heavyweight if he knew his PED use contributed to such devastating damage.
It’s also why Kauffman couldn’t overlook Luis Ortiz’s PED history throughout the buildup toward their 10-round fight Saturday night at Staples Center (Showtime Pay-Per-View; $74.99 in HD). Kauffman was brutally honest during the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury undercard press conference Thursday when Showtime’s Brian Custer asked him about Ortiz’s ordeals involving PEDs.
“I think anybody who puts a needle in their ass to get by is a cheater,” Kauffman said at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites. “I don’t blame Luis Ortiz, though. It’s not his fault, because it’s like this – if I’m in a relationship with my wife and I cheat, and she keeps letting me back, I’m gonna keep cheatin’. It’s not Luis Ortiz’s fault. They keep letting him back, so he’s gonna keep cheatin’. That’s how I feel. It ain’t his fault. I’m not mad at him.
“The problem is, the boxing world, the commission, they praise a guy like him. And he’s very skilled. To me, people who use steroids is because they’re insecure about something. … He is one of the most skilled fighters in the world, and that’s the truth. So why do you have to use steroids? He can sit there and say he didn’t use steroids. It’s a fact, so that’s my thing.”
Ortiz interjected while Kauffman condemned him.
“Save your energy for the fight,” Ortiz said. “You’re gonna need it.”
Cuba’s Ortiz tested positive for two diuretics 14 months ago, which caused the cancelation of his first scheduled shot at Wilder’s WBC title.
Ortiz and his team maintain prescribed medication for high blood pressure triggered those positive tests. Their failure to disclose that he was taking that medication before he was tested was a violation of the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association’s rules.
VADA performs PED tests for the WBC’s “Clean Boxing Program,” which refused to sanction Wilder-Ortiz as a fight last November 4 for its heavyweight championship. Wilder, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, instead made a mandatory defense of his title by knocking out former champion Bermane Stiverne (25-3-1, 21 KOs) in the first round of their rematch at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The WBC later ruled that independent physical examinations determined Ortiz requires medication for high blood pressure and kept him in its rankings.
The powerful southpaw previously tested positive for an anabolic steroid following his first-round knockout of Lateef Kayode in September 2014. Failing that test cost Ortiz the WBA interim title he won by defeating Kayode at StubHub Center in Carson, California.
The WBA suspended Ortiz for a year and removed him from its rankings once Ortiz failed another PED test prior to his canceled fight with Wilder. Ortiz was the mandatory challenger for WBA heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua prior to that suspension.
Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) knocked down Ortiz three times on his way to stopping Ortiz in the 10th round of their rescheduled fight March 3 at Barclays Center.
Ortiz (29-1, 25 KOs, 2 NC) bounced back from his lone loss by knocking out Romania’s Razvan Cojanu (16-4, 9 KOs) in the second round July 28 at Staples Center. He expects to extend his winning streak to two when he encounters Kauffman (32-2, 23 KOs, 1 NC) on Saturday night.
“They can continue saying what they wanna say,” Ortiz said regarding Kauffman’s criticism. “I’ve been tested more times than VADA’s even tested – period. So, whatever. If I’m a cheater, figure it out Saturday night.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.