For weeks, the boxing community was curious to see how Deontay Wilder would fare against Luis Ortiz, one of the sport’s top heavyweights and Wilder’s toughest opponents. It’s safe to say that Wilder proved deserving of his WBC world heavyweight title.
Wilder knocked out Ortiz in the ninth round of their world title clash at the Barclays Center in the main event of a Showtime Championship Boxing card. Wilder scored his 39th knockout in 40 wins in a fight that saw Wilder put in a lot uncomfortable positions for the first time in his pro career, in serious risk of losing his title in the judges’ hands. At the time of the knockout, Fightful had Ortiz winning 87-83 while all three judges at ringside had Wilder winning 85-84.
Ortiz started the fight, not with a bang, but with a calculated gameplan that saw him throw several jabs at Wilder, disrupting the champion’s rhythm and preventing him from landing his signature power punches and right jab. Wilder turned the tide towards the end of the fifth round by successfully knocking down Ortiz. Wilder used the momentum to get some more punches land on Ortiz in the sixth round.
But Ortiz soon recovered and was back to landing numerous jabs. Ortiz even hurt Wilder on a number of occasions with Wilder’s legs buckling down, but Wilder was never knocked down to the surprise of many watching the fight. Wilder soon started to catch his second win in the eighth round and found his strength in the ninth round, Wilder returned to being the killer knockout artist he is known for.
Wilder scored a major knockdown in the ninth round with a flurry of punches that sent Ortiz to the canvas. Ortiz barely managed to get back up, but he never fully recovered from the second knockdown and Wilder got the decisive knockout with a vicious uppercut to Ortiz's chin to win the fight for good. According to CompuBox, Wilder landed 98 of 346 total punches (28 percent) while Ortiz landed 87 of 363 (24 percent).
The fight was supposed to happen last November, but Ortiz violated the WBC's Clean Boxing Program weeks before the fight and so the bout was scrapped. Wilder instead fought then-mandatory challenger Bermane Stiverne and Wilder knocked out Stiverne in the first round on November 4 at the Barclays Center.
With Ortiz now out of the picture, Wilder’s sights are set on Anthony Joshua, who will look to unify the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles against Joseph Parker on March 31. Should Wilder fight the winner of the March 31 bout, it would mean the first-ever four-belt world heavyweight title unification in the long history of the sport. After the fight, Wilder said he is ready to take on the soon-to-be unified WBA, IBF and WBO champion.
"I'm ready right now. I always said that I want to unify. I'm ready whenever those guys are. I am the baddest man on the planet and I proved that tonight. This solidified my position at the top of the food chain," Wilder said.
The win was Wilder's seventh WBC title defense since winning the title off of Stiverne back in 2015.