British boxing promotion company Matchroom has signed its first overseas fighter to its books in Cuban heavyweight Luis Ortiz.
The signing of the unbeaten 37-year-old nicknamed "King Kong", who has won 22 of his 25 fights with a knockout, underlines the growth of the UK as an international boxing destination.
Ortiz will become stable mates with IBF world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua who will mount a mandatory defence of his title against an as yet unnamed opponent on November 26.
The Cuban won't be put up against the British Olympic gold medallist just yet, but Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn is keen to keep him active in the UK where other heavyweights such as Dillian Whyte, Tyson Fury, Hughie Fury and David Price are based.
“Luis Ortiz is one of the most exciting heavyweights in the world and I am delighted to be working with him,” said Hearn. “We plan to keep him very busy and let the fans enjoy his devastating power. Luis is an avoided fighter but we plan on giving him the profile that will make that impossible.
“First stop for ‘King Kong’ will be announced on Monday on a huge card in November and then we plan to get him out in the UK straight after, potentially on the Anthony Joshua card. I'm very excited to work with our first international fighter as we continue to expand into new markets.”
Ortiz added: “I’m going to be very busy over the next few months and looking forward to boxing in many countries as we continue my journey to the Heavyweight World championship.”
Matchroom has been the driving force behind a recent resurgence in British boxing that has seen crowds, TV audiences and the number of active world champions grow simultaneously.
In its most recently disclosed accounts for the year ended 30 June 2015, Matchroom Sport - which also cover darts and other sports - reported a £1.5m rise in pre-tax profit to £5.4m.
With the sport struggling in the USA amid lack of serious homegrown contenders, the UK has become a viable destination for international fighters to build their career.
Gennady Golovkin, world middleweight champion and one of the biggest names in the sport, fought Kell Brook in London last month while the promoter of New Zealand heavyweight Joseph Parker told City A.M. that his team had plans to set up camp in the UK for an assault on Joshua's world title.