NEW YORK, NY, March 2, 2018. – Fans who love the big men of boxing finally get their long anticipated and long delayed matchup in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center on Saturday. American Deontay “Bronze Bomber” Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs) of Tuscaloosa, Alabama puts his WBC World Heavyweight belt on the line against Luis “King King” Ortiz (28-0, 24 KOs).
Do the math – that’s 62 knockouts in 67 fights between two undefeated heavyweights. Someone’s O has got to go, and it’s likely one man will be going down with a large thud onto the canvas.
Showtime Boxing: Wilder vs Ortiz finally here
Wilder has the worst string of luck with opponents showing up in the ring. He was supposed to face Ortiz in November, but Ortiz was disqualified for the third time in his career due to using a banned substance. Wilder made a bold statement against Ortiz’s replacement, a rematch with the only man to take him the distance as a professional, Bermane Stiverne. A plodding, slow Stiverne sleepwalked through a single round before being dropped by Wilder at 2:59.
Before Ortiz, Wilder opponent Alexander Povetkin got popped and Wilder had to find a new though lesser dance partner. Wilder has acknowledged his struggle to schedule fights against top level opposition for multiple reasons which haven’t been his fault.
“So much frustration, man, it just seemed like my career has been crazy, so many guys ducking, so many guys using PEDs. I just want to prove I am the best, I know am the best,” said Wilder.
Wilder now has that chance against Ortiz, who stayed clean and hit the scale at 241 pounds on Friday to 214 for Wilder. It is important for Wilder’s momentum leads to a fight with the superstar of the division, Anthony Joshua of Great Britain.
That Wilder have another strong knockout performance.
“I put guys on their ass, and that’s what I intend to do Saturday night,” said Wilder at Friday’s weigh-in. “He’s never faced a guy who really wants to rip his head off. I’m ready to show I’m the best come Saturday night.”
But it’s far from a given. Ortiz is a strong, resolute southpaw who may not have much speed, but he is as formidable as a mighty oak tree. Whether he has the chin to go with it will be one of the big questions looking for an answer on Saturday. The same question can be asked of Wilder.
“This is my opportunity, this is my time,” said Ortiz. “I respect everyone that I step inside the ring with … he has been world champion for three years but this is my opportunity.”
Ortiz has the punching power to succeed
Ortiz has punching power on par with Wilder to be sure. Where he suffers against Wilder is with the long jab Wilder can deploy against an opponent, should he feel like using it. Wilder often gets anxious to score a showstopping knockout, and this is where Ortiz can take advantage. But Ortiz cannot leave himself open to Wilder’s weapon of mass destruction, the windmill right hand.
As a southpaw he is vulnerable to this.
Wilder is 32 to Ortiz’s 38, if you believe his Cuban birth certificate. Ortiz has a significant advantage in experience, far more than just six years. He rolled up an amateur record like many Cuban fighters of 343 wins and 19 losses.
Wilder fought just three years before winning a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic Games.
There is more that joins than separates these boxing champions
Looking at the intangible elements, both men are fathers fighting for the future of their young daughters who both suffer with health problems. Wilder’s daughter was born with spina bifida, a disease of the backbone and spinal cord; Ortiz’s daughter was born with epidermolysis bullosa, with fragile skin prone to blistering and ongoing damage.
In this, both men understand the powerful drive of a father who would do whatever it takes to provide his child the proper treatment and care it takes to give her the best chance of a happy, healthy life.
But it doesn’t mean the two will give each other the slightest break. Wilder wants his shot at Joshua; Ortiz wants to become the first professional Cuban heavyweight champion and all that goes with it.
Don’t bet against Wilder, or ignore Ortiz
It is impossible to bet against Wilder, but Ortiz could catch Wilder unaware and unarmed. Both have their best chance of success by boxing in the early rounds of the fight to determine what might be available to exploit in the other man. Thanks to his amateur pedigree, Ortiz may be better equipped to do this. He needs to ignore the crowd egging the fighters on, and fight his own way.
Wilder can end the fight with one punch, if he gets the chance. If both men decide to proceed carefully, they could go the distance which wouldn’t make fans too happy, and would be to Wilder’s advantage with the judges.
The undercard features a rematch between super middleweights Andre Dirrell and Jose Uzcategui. Dirrell (26-2, 16 KOs) of Flint, Michigan won by disqualification after Uzcategui (26-2, 22 KOs) of Venezuela landed the third of a three punch combination after the bell in the eighth round.
Referee Bill Clancy ruled Dirrell unable to continue and gave Uzcategui the DQ. If he had gone to the scorecards, Uzcategui was ahead on two, with the third a draw. Dirrell’s then trainer Leon Lawson Jr. was so outraged, he attached Uzcategui, landing a sucker punch to the face.
Lawson was arrested with charges of second-degree assault. Dawson was suspended by various sanctioning organizations. Dirrell is now working with Virgil Hunter at the suggestion of his friend and former Olympic teammate, Andre Ward.
Saying there’s a score to settle here is an understatement.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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