With the Ultimate Fighting Championship taking a rare weekend off, WBC Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder steps into a unique occasion this Saturday night, defending his title for the eleventh time against Luis Ortiz, the Cuban expat with whom Wilder engaged with a wonderful battle twenty months ago in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Yet the despite the fact that Ortiz gave Wilder absolute hell for most of the ten rounds they were in the ring that night, opinions about this Saturday’s rematch remain very differed. The bout will go down Saturday on FOX PPV, with the four bout main card going starting at 9pm Eastern.
For the hardcore fanbase known simply as “boxing Twitter” along with many of the prominent boxing writers, what Ortiz did for those rounds doesn’t matter as much of how it ended, with Wilder shaking off being badly hurt in the seventh and eight rounds to put away Ortiz in the tenth round. That Ortiz outlanded Wilder 105 to 86 over the first eight rounds doesn’t matter. Many believe that the forty year old Ortiz (and there are those who believe the Cuban could be much older) had his best shot twenty months ago and that he is in the ring with Wilder because the people with Premier Boxing Champions know Wilder can beat him, and they do not won’t to spoil the big money rematch the champ has with Tyson Fury that is penciled in for Spring 2020.
Yet Wilder and the PBC are doing their best to try to convince the public that Ortiz is the same kind of threat to Wilder that he was last March. Given how Ortiz came off the canvas in the fifth round and was dominant at times last March and that Wilder, despite his big heart and his even bigger punch, is a rudimentary boxer at best, it’s not totally out of scope. After all, Wilder was outboxed for much of the first eight rounds against an ordinary, undersized Pole named Artur Szpilka in 2016 and again for much of five rounds by an ordinary, thirty-nine year old former football player named Gerald Washington. That the seasoned, well-schooled Ortiz could do it even at his advanced age is not out of the realm of possibility.
Ortiz’ detractors look at his three fights since the Wilder knockout and see a fighter that looks diminished, having gone ten rounds with fighters like Travis Kauffman and Christian Hammer, two fighters way below Ortiz’ station. Frankly, Ortiz has looked like an old fighter since meeting Wilder, giving credence to those who say Ortiz is several years older than the forty he claims. Throw in the fact that Wilder knows that he can hurt put away Ortiz, and Wilder is riding high after a first round knockout victory over Dominic Breazeale in May, it is easy to see why hardcore boxing fans believe Ortiz has no shot come Friday night.
But at the end of the day, this is heavyweight boxing. If Ortiz can show up in shape and bring out that last proverbial great fight that is supposed to be in him, maybe he can avoid Wilder’s big shots and outbox him for twelve rounds the way it seemed he could last March, or maybe, the 240 pound Ortiz can catch the wide open Wilder with a clean left hand counter and put him away..
Stranger things have happened.
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