Deontay Wilder did it again last night, as he had promised: he gave us another highlight-reel KO, this one of the one-punch variety (there was no windmilling on display this time). But Wilder had to do something else once again: overcome a points deficit to hang onto his treasured WBC heavyweight crown. And it was his withering power that allowed him to do so..
Luis Ortiz, in perhaps the best shape of his pro career, certainly he weighed-in at the lightest ever at 236, was outboxing Wilder quite soundly, and quite safely. Perhaps remembering how badly hurt he was in the first fight with Ortiz, which was also a slow-paced technichal affair in-between the rounds that showcased explosiveness, Wilder was more cautious than we have ever seen him. This lack of commitment and an unwillingness or inability to get set and throw quality shots allowed southpaw Ortiz to win the first half of the fight.
Up by scores of 59-55, 59-55 and 58-56, Ortiz had Wilder fans concerned (and this writer, who had made the brave/dumb prediction of an upset points win scored by the Cuban, began to get his hopes seriously up!). But then, cruelly for the ageing Ortiz, Wilder suddenly and without warning flicked the switch – and it was all over. Boom! One enormous and perfectly placed right hand to the head from “The Bronze Bomber” (who sure left it late before showing up) and Ortiz, now 31-2(26) was ruined.
Wilder, 42-0-1(41) has some highlight reel to look back on – his two wins of this year coming in satisfying fashion for lovers of a nasty, bone-crunching knockout; Dominic Breazeale and now Ortiz being on the painful receiving end – but he might never shake off the critics who point to his shortcomings in the art of The Sweet Science. A number of fighters have been able to outbox Wilder, and in the future this will almost certainly happen again, yet time and again, Wilder has got out of jail. Tyson Fury came the closest to beating Wilder, before he was heavily sent to the canvas in that truly astonishing 12th-round almost a year ago.
So can any heavyweight stay on their feet long enough to defeat Wilder? Next up, Fury should get another shot at doing it (and yes, plenty of people feel Fury did beat Wilder last December, only to fail to get the decision) and what a fascinating fight this rematch really is.
Just one word of advice for Fury, and for the fans: don’t blink. It could be the last few seconds of the last round of any fight, and Wilder could put the lights out. Has there ever been a heavyweight puncher quite like him!?