LAST week we were treated to a heavyweight battle that had us reminiscing of the heavyweight slugfests of yesteryear. Deontay Wilder vs Luis Ortiz lived up to the pre-fight hype and delivered a contest that had even the most hardened naysayers silent in awe.
Most of the fight, at least the early rounds were spent with Ortiz outboxing the WBC champion and looking every bit “the most avoided” man in the division. The jab of Ortiz was finding a home while he displayed some brilliant body work that notably drained Wilder’s stamina. Ortiz was firmly in the driving seat and putting on the pressure. That is until Wilder did what Wilder does. Despite being under pressure Wilder was noticeably calm, relaxed and composed. He looked as if he was banking on setting up a fight turning shot, which he managed to do in the fifth round. The WBC kingpin uncorked a tremendous right hand that dumped Ortiz to the canvas and immediately changed the tone of the bout. Ortiz was somewhat fortunate that there was 10 seconds of the round remaining which saved him from Wilder’s trademark ‘windmill’ attack. Perhaps with fellow compatriot Guillermo Rigondeaux’s lacklustre performance against Vasyl Lomachenko recently still in his mind, Ortiz was determined to come storming back into the contest and display his fighting heart which will no doubt have gained him a huge number of fans. Whilst Wilder was once again looking for the fight ending blows Ortiz delivered a huge counter right hook which all but had Wilder out on his feet. A tremendous barrage of punches followed from the Cuban but somehow Wilder refused to be knocked down.
Wilder endured a torrid assortment of shots as Ortiz aimed to become the first Cuban to win the heavyweight title, Deontay however showed his fighting mettle by making it back to his corner on his feet. Having ridden that wave you had a feeling that Wilder grew in confidence and the end was near. This turned out to be the case as Wilder once again found a home for his bazooka right hand which put Ortiz down. This time when Luis rose there was too much time and too many follow up punches from Wilder which caused the referee to call a halt to the action.
Wilder, in this gripping slugfest ticked most boxes that remained unchecked by his critics. Could the giant take a punch? Does he have a fighting heart? Does he have stamina? Is his power for real? All these questions were answered last week with an emphatic yes. We now, however, have a whole new set of questions that perhaps will only be answered when the inevitable showdown between Britain’s own Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder takes place. For all his guts, power and heart, Wilder was shown to be crude, defensively open and devoid of ideas at times. Against an opponent listed at 38 years old (amidst a cloud of suspicion) Wilder proved he had the stamina, speed and power late in the fight to close the show, as did our own AJ against an ageing Klitschko. It remains to be seen how these two juggernauts will do when they collide with fighters just as young, just as quick, just as powerful as them.
For every question that now remains about the two premier heavyweights in the world it is becoming obvious that only they will hold the answers for each other. Make no mistake about it, the two speeding trains are now on an inevitable blockbuster collision course. Whether the culmination is in 2018 is the only question that really matters now.