Tonight, March 3rd, WBC Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder will defend his WBC belt against Cuban Luis Ortiz. It is a highly anticipated match-up, and one that serves as the biggest test in Wilder’s career. The broadcast airs at 9 pm EST on Showtime.
Deontay Wilder – 39-0, 38 KO’s
Luis Ortiz – 28-0, 24 KO’s
Weigh In Results:
Wilder: 214 lbs
Ortiz: 241 lbs
There was a time where Luis Ortiz was one of the most feared men in the heavyweight division. He had the look of a heavyweight champ (6’4”, 241 lbs.). He also was a southpaw, and a product of the Cuban amateur system, something uncommon for heavyweights.
Coming off of an impressive KO victory over Bryant Jennings, it appeared Ortiz would take the next step. However, that fight against Jennings was in 2015, and if anything Ortiz has taken a step back. Since his fight with Jennings, Ortiz has fought sub-par opposition, including only one fight in 2017.
Additionally, Ortiz has shown some stamina issues, and often appears to gas out in fights. Between his inactivity, stamina issues, and the fact that he is 38 years old (some say he is actually even older), it appears that Ortiz’s best days are behind him. Despite these factors, his fight with Wilder is much anticipated.
Why you may ask? Because Wilder hasn’t fought in a fight viewed as competitive (on paper at least) since his first fight against Bermane Stiverne, in January of 2015.
Since winning the WBC belt in that fight, Wilder has went on to have a horrible string of title defenses. Some of it isn’t his fault, 3 of his opponents failed drug tests (including mandatory Alexander Povetkin and his next opponent, Luis Ortiz). The fight with Povetkin would have been great, as it would have been against a top 5 heavyweight (at the time).
Wilder can’t be blamed for his opponents failing drug tests after the fight was signed, but he does deserve criticism for the selection of his other opponents. A heavyweight champion should not have his best title defenses be against a washed up Chris Arreola or Gerald Washington. That is not a good resume.
Another reason this fight with Ortiz is still viewed as competitive is because of Wilder’s apparent lack of skill. His technique is frankly subpar. He often windmills his punches, missing his opponent, or not landing clean.
He has shown flashes of being able to box (see the first Stiverne fight), but he does not often show off those skills off. Many feel he leaves himself open to being countered, but his opponents have either been undersized, or frankly not skilled enough to do so. From what we have seen from Ortiz, it appears he could be able to catch Wilder, and Ortiz certainly has the power to hurt him if he were to land clean.
While I spent much of this article criticizing Wilder, I do it because I am high on him. I see his size (6’7″), reach (83”), athleticism and hand speed. These are the attributes of someone who can be a great heavyweight champion.
It has been disappointing to see him go on a path with little resistance. Again, not all of it is his fault, but the opponents that do not fail drug tests are simply horrible opponents. This fight is a great step in the right direction, and it appears as though we will see a unification fight with Anthony Joshua by early 2019.
I expect Wilder to earn the victory, via knockout. While Ortiz has more than a puncher’s chance, as he is skilled himself, I just think there are too many factors going against him. He may just be a little too old, a little too inactive, and simply not as athletic as Wilder.
As previously stated, Wilder showed boxing ability in his first fight with Bermane Stiverne, jabbing, moving and not swinging too wildly. He was able to land almost at will, and executed his excellent game plan. In the fights following, his opponents were over-matched. He did not need to box, he was able to simply bully them with his size and power advantages.
Wilder knows Ortiz is the best opponent he has faced so far, so I expect to see more of the Wilder from the first Stiverne fight. And since he weighed in at the lightest he has been since 2009, it appears as though Wilder plans to do just that.
Wilder also knows that Ortiz is much older, and is not as quick on his feet. Between his lateral movement and jab, I envision the older Ortiz tiring out, and I expect Wilder to be able to continuously land his devastating straight right hand. Eventually, one of the right hands will be one too many, and will result in a knockout.
Wilder KO round 7.