WBC Champion Deontay Wilder retained his title, and proved doubters wrong with his 10th round KO victory over Cuban challenger Luis Ortiz in a fight that was a back and forth slugfest. This was the type of performance that sticks in the minds of observers, and that can define a career.
The fight was viewed as the biggest test in Wilder’s career thus far, and it showed. There was not much action in the first 4 rounds, but it appeared as though Ortiz was winning, landing good shots on Wilder and not getting hit by anything devastating.
However, at the end of the 5th round, Wilder was able to finally land a clean power punch, and it seriously hurt Ortiz. He followed it up with an additional right hand that sent the challenger to the canvas. The round ended before the action could resume, giving Ortiz time to recover in-between rounds.
Ortiz fully recovered, and in the 7th round, he was able to connect on Wilder and nearly end the fight. He was unloading on Wilder, and Wilder was just trying to not get knocked out. Referee David Fields appeared ready to stop it at any moment, but Wilder did enough to make it out of the round.
Many critics said Wilder’s chin was sub par, but he proved the opposite. He has a great chin, especially for a heavyweight where one punch can end any fight. He somehow was able to make it out of the 7th round, and without getting dropped (although all 3 judges scored the round 10-8 for Ortiz, it was that bad for Wilder).
It would have been easy for a fighter to give up in that situation. Wilder was visibly hurt, and it was clear that one more big punch would have dropped him. However, Wilder showed tremendous heart, and fought on. He appeared to still be hurt in the 8th, but was able to survive the round and get his legs back.
Then, in the 10th, Wilder showed why he is a force in the division. In a fight where he was on the brink of being knocked out, and losing on points in the eyes of most observers, Wilder was able to completely change the fight. He landed one of his trademark right hands, seriously hurting Ortiz.
This was followed up by a barrage of punches, which lead to Ortiz being knocked down. Ortiz was visibly hurt, but rose up from the canvas and continued on. Wilder went for the kill, and eventually landed a highlight-reel right uppercut that folded Ortiz, making his body limp to the floor and ending the fight. It was a truly devastating uppercut, one that no fighter alive could have survived.
This fight showed a lot about Wilder. He was often criticized for his weak resume, and subpar boxing skills. Both of those may be true, but it doesn’t matter.
He appears willing to fight the best, and shows he has the heart of a warrior. Not many fighters could have survived that 7th round, let alone come back and knock out their opponent. Wilder was also willing to fight challenger Alexander Povetkin in Russia, it is not Wilder’s fault Povetkin is a cheater and failed a drug test.
Wilder showed skills do not always pay the bills. Sometimes, you just need heart. And having absolutely devastating power doesn’t hurt either. Hopefully we get to see the mega-fight with Anthony Joshua before the end of 2019.