Luis Ortiz survived two knockdowns before going on to stop Charles Martin in the sixth round of an unexpectedly entertaining heavyweight match-up last night at the Hard Rock Hotel in Florida.

Ortiz, who turns 43 in March, kept his hopes of a third world title shot alive despite a flat performance which he turned around with an overhand left to wobble the former IBF heavyweight champion at the halfway point of the fight. That moment in the opening seconds of round six was the beginning of the end for Martin who had controlled the fight up until then. A further onslaught by the Cuban led to the American being tied up in the ropes but was given the opportunity to continue by referee Frank Santore Jr.

Arguably the fight should have been waved off there and then. It was obvious to anyone else watching that Martin was operating in another world after Ortiz rocked him with the initial punch that had ‘Prince’ staring into space for a few seconds.

Ortiz moved his attacks to Martin’s body upon the restart and never let his man off the hook and referee Santore Jr had finally seen enough when the visibly beaten Martin was dropped again.

The ending will prove to be one of frustration for the 35-year-old who had been hoping to get himself back into world title contention having spent the last couple of years trying to rebuild his career. An overhand left of his own put Ortiz down in the opening round but the veteran smiled and appeared unfazed by what had just happened. A worrying factor in the performance of ‘King Kong’ will be the fact he was dropped twice rather easily, and the second occasion came in the final seconds of round four. Martin landed a firm jab which was enough to give him another 10-8 round and prove that the punch resistance of Ortiz may be waning significantly.

All of that proved irrelevant when Ortiz flicked the switch to shift the momentum in the sixth. And despite being behind on all three scorecards (48-45, 48-45 and 47-46) Ortiz now takes his record to (33-2, 28 KOs). His only two losses came to Deontay Wilder when he challenged the ‘Bronze Bomber’ for his WBC crown in 2018 and 2019.

The victory for Ortiz now moves him into the mandatory position for a shot at Oleksandr Usyk’s IBF title. Martin had held the number three slot but now drops out of the picture leaving Ortiz in front of unbeaten Croatian Filip Hrgovic who will now move up from three to two in the IBF rankings.

Martin now has three losses on his own record (28-3-1, 25 KOs) but certainly showed enough to prove he is not finished at this level.