ONLY a few weeks before he was due to challenge for the WBC heavyweight title, Cuba’s Luis Ortiz has failed a drug test.

Mauricio Sulaiman confirmed that the WBC were notified of the positive drug test by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) as part of the WBC’s clean boxing programme.

Ortiz was due to box WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder on November 4 in a major event at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, broadcast on Showtime. While Ortiz can appeal, this is not the first time he has a failed a drug test. He was suspended for a prohibited substance in 2014.

Ortiz was in line to compete in big-time heavyweight bouts. Not only the Wilder world title fight, Ortiz was the mandatory challenger for Anthony Joshua’s WBA world title and the winner of Wilder-Ortiz would have been most likely to fight Joshua, in one of the most lucrative showdowns in the sport, in 2018.

It remains deeply frustrating for Wilder, who has lost out on big fights due to opponents failing drug tests before, notably a significant showdown with Alexander Povetkin in Russia in 2016. Ahead of a fight in February this year his original opponent Andrzej Wawrzyk also tested positive for a banned substance.

Luis Ortiz

There are at least obvious substitutes on the November 4 bill, with former world champion Bermane Stiverne and former world title challenger Dominic Breazeale due to box one another on the bill.

Wilder had warned Ortiz to stay clean at their pre-fight press conference:

Video: Showtime