Deontay Wilder: Lays Down Another Marker
By Sina Latif
When WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (42-0-1, 40 KOs) caught Luis Ortiz (31-2, 26 KOs) with a pulverising right-hand to produce a stunning seventh round stoppage in a rematch he could not dare to lose, he created a little bit of history by making a 10th successful defence of his title, equalling heavyweight legend Muhammad Ali.
The hard-hitting American is now 34 and very much in his prime, with a rematch against Tyson Fury to be formally announced soon, with ambitions to subsequently fight the Andy Ruiz Jr vs Anthony Joshua winner to finally crown an undisputed champion.
In their first fight in March 2018 at Barclays Center, New York, Ortiz pushed the American all the way. Wilder was in serious trouble for the first time in his career before knocking the Cuban out in the tenth round.
For the first time in Ortiz’s career, when the former ‘Boogeyman’ of the division had a man hurt badly, he couldn’t finish the fight. Wilder proved that he is no ordinary fighter.
Yes, Wilder could have fought more top-drawer opponents over the course of a 43-fight career thus far. However, when he came up against a determined and dangerous Cuban southpaw fighting for the future of his family, a man avoided by the top heavyweights for many years, Wilder proved that he has the heart of a champion.
In the first fight, Wilder displayed heart and power.
In the rematch, Wilder yet again showed his pure power. Power that is legendary. He was out-boxed for six rounds and was clearly second-best to the tricky southpaw. Then came a devastating right hand, arguably the first clean right-cross Wilder had landed, and it was all over in a flash.
Another destructive finish from ‘The Bronze Bomber’ means that Wilder will continue his dominance of the blue-ribbon division and boost his reputation as one of the hardest-hitting punchers in heavyweight history, if not the hardest.
Ortiz had employed a new conditioning coach in Larry Wade and was in career-best shape regardless of his advancing years.
He boxed brilliantly. After six completed rounds, the 40-year-old was in total control of the fight. The Cuban was looking light on his feet and was controlling the tempo. He was evasive, smart and quick. Due to the fact that Ortiz is such a sharp counter-puncher, Wilder looked wary of letting his shots go.
Ortiz was using all of the experience and intelligence he had gained during an extensive amateur career representing Cuba. He was controlling distance very well, stepping in and out of range and timing his counters effectively. Then it happened, Wilder’s equaliser landed.
Ortiz boxed near-perfectly for nearly seven rounds, and still found himself in a position so undeserving of such a performance, on his backside. That is a real possibility at all times whilst in the ring with Wilder, such is the American’s power.
The opponent can be cruising to victory and then Wilder can turn the fight upside-down in the blink of an eye. We saw it against Tyson Fury. The Brit was winning the fight heading into the final round and then Wilder managed to land and salvage a draw, with Fury miraculously regaining his footing just as he thought the victory was in the bag.
There are two ways of beating Wilder. You either out-box him for twelve rounds, or you knock him out before he knocks you out.
Attempts to out-box Wilder for 12 rounds will leave a fighter with the constant nagging worry in their mind that one game-changing punch can make all of their hard-work go up in smoke.
Wilder salvaged a draw with Fury after two knockdowns, whilst knockouts in both fights against Ortiz got him out of trouble after being severely out-boxed.
Fury and Ortiz are two of the most skilful heavyweights today and Wilder still held his own. There is a reason that Ortiz has been avoided by so many heavyweights. He is a skilful southpaw with power.
Granted, southpaws may be vulnerable to the right hand, but one who possesses knowledge of the sweet science would believe that Ortiz’s style is all wrong for Wilder.
However, Wilder knocked him out twice. Wilder’s power can prove to be the difference against anybody, regardless of the opponents’ skill level and talks of Wilder’s sub-par technical skills.
An opponent could fight fire with fire and attempt to knock Wilder out first by going for broke, a very dangerous tactic against the sport’s biggest puncher.
The moment Ortiz decided to engage with Wilder in a firefight in the seventh round, he was lying on his back looking like he was struggling to do the last sit-up of the set.
“The Bronze Bomber” now has a historic ten title defences and with 41 KO’s in 43 fights, Wilder has the highest knockout ratio of any heavyweight champion in history.
Not long ago, there was widespread doubts about his eligibility as a genuine elite champion, but those doubts are now starting to be dispelled in the same brutal manner as Wilder’s opponents. He is finally earning his stripes.
With a rematch set against Fury and hopes of an undisputed fight against the Ruiz vs Joshua winner afterwards, Wilder has the opportunity to cement his greatness.