Recently I had the opportunity to speak with Hall of Fame referee, judge and now journalist and special contributor for ESPN, Joe Cortez. In this interview, Joe spoke about Deontay Wilder’s victory over Bermane Stiverne and what he feels is next for the newly crowned heavyweight champ. Cortez also weighed in on the Mayweather-Pacquiao negotiations and gave his prediction for the fight if it is to take place. Lastly, Joe Cortez spoke about rising star, Keith Thurman and British welterweight, Amir Khan. Here is what Joe Cortez had to say.
Robert Brown: What were your thoughts on Deontay Wilder’s performance over Bermane Stiverne?
Joe Cortez: Stiverne said he was not gonna give up his WBC championship. He tried but Deontay Wilder had too much leverage on him — the height, the long reach, he kept him at a distance, combinations from the outside. One of the judges gave Wilder all twelve rounds.
The fans wanted to see an American champion, well they got one now. Now we’ll see him against other top contenders in the very near future so that he can prove that he’s a worthy champion. We have to see him against the other contenders out there. Tyson Fury is a possible opponent for him, I think that would be good. Let him fight some big name fighters, then he can go after Klitschko.
Robert Brown: When do you think Wilder will be ready for Klitschko?
Joe Cortez: I think maybe a year from now he’ll be ready, but he has to prove himself. This was the first time he’s gone over four rounds, he went the twelve rounds and he showed that he can stay in there, but I want to see him against some other top notch heavyweights and then we’ll take it from there.
Robert Brown: What do you think about Shannon Briggs’ persistent social media campaign to fight Wladimir Klitschko? Do you think he’ll get the fight as a result of this?
Joe Cortez: I’d like to see him fight one of the top contenders. Beat one of the top contenders and then you go for the title.
Robert Brown: Briggs has been stalking Wladimir, do you think Klitschko after a while will just give in and fight him?
Joe Cortez: Klitschko has been very active, he’s a hard puncher and Shannon Briggs hasn’t really fought anybody worth while. I don’t see much of a chance for Shannon Briggs if he was to fight Klitschko.
Robert Brown: There’s been a lot of negotiations between Mayweather and Pacquiao. What do you think of the negotiations and do you think the fight will happen?
Joe Cortez: I want to see Floyd Mayweather sign the contract. If it doesn’t happen within the next ten days, I would say it’s not gonna happen. It has to be taken care of within the next ten days because we’re getting too close to May 2nd — the day of the fight that they’re talking about.
They need time to promote the fight and every day that goes by without signing that contract, it’s not a good thing. They gotta hurry up and take care of thing, let’s see if Floyd Mayweather signs the contract.
Robert Brown: Does Manny Pacquiao’s dominant victory over Chris Algieri change your opinion of who you think would win that fight?
Joe Cortez: Manny Pacquiao looked outstanding in beating Chris Algieri, but don’t forget, Chris Algieri is not the same level as Mayweather. Mayweather is a superior fighter with many years of experience and has held on to that championship for over seventeen years, that tells you something about his caliber of a fighter. Chris Algieri was on another level — I thought he was gonna perform better, but he didn’t and Pacquiao looked outstanding putting him down on six occasions.
Robert Brown: Would you still be picking Mayweather?
Joe Cortez: I’d still have to go with Mayweather for this fight because he’s undefeated and he’s been in there for over seventeen years as a world champion, but in boxing things can go wrong for you overnight. In boxing they say you can get old over night.
Mayweather knows his body, he knows how to take care of himself and that’s why he looks so young when he’s fighting, he looks like a young twenty year old, he maintains himself in good shape at all time.
Robert Brown: Amir Khan has wasted so much time by chasing Floyd Mayweather. Does Khan have to move on now and who do you think he should fight?
Joe Cortez: Amir Khan looked outstanding in his last fight when he beat Devon Alexander. He looked better than ever, he looked like he really reached his peak, he’s on top of his game right now. His chin is always been questionable but Devon Alexander could hardly even touch him the whole night. If Khan fights like that against Mayweather, it would be a good match.
I’d like to see Amir Khan fight Marcos Maidana again because I refereed the first time they fought and there was a lot of controversy about the decision. I think Amir Khan, to redeem himself by fighting Maidana and if he beats Maidana then they should be lined up for Mayweather or Pacquiao.
Robert Brown: If Pacquiao vs. Mayweather doesn’t come about, what are your thoughts on a Pacquiao vs. Khan fight?
Joe Cortez: That would be a good fight too, it could be an option for Pacquiao. Fans are dying to see good fights and whoever can step up to the plate and give him a tough fight, that’s what the fans want.
Robert Brown: Rising star, Keith Thurman is coming up against Robert Guerrero. What are your thoughts on that fight?
Joe Cortez: Keith Thurman is an up incoming fighter, he looks very good, he’s very sharp, good puncher. I think Keith Thurman has proven himself to be a good fighter, he’s gonna be a dangerous opponent for any one of the champions out there.
Robert Brown: You will be picking Thurman over Guerrero?
Joe Cortez: Yeah, absolutely.