By John J. Raspanti
Last week WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder raised eyebrows by stating unequivocally that if he had fought Mike Tyson, he would have destroyed the former champ.
"Me vs Tyson in 86, I’d kick the hell outta that guy," Wilder told TMZ.
After drawing a ton of criticism for his remarks, Wilder walked back his remarks a bit.
"My hand speed, I’m too long, I’m too tall, my athleticism, my footwork, all that gives me an advantage, it plays a big part," Wilder told Es News. "No disrespect to Mike Tyson, in his era he was the best but this is a new era.
"No old school fighter should beat a new school fighter. Look at the technology we have. Nobody has a natural killer instinct as I do, ain’t anybody could ever knock me out. I’m very confident in what I say and I speak what I do."
Old school versus new school. That works in a lot of ways, including writing and writers. I’m old school. I saw the young Tyson destroying opponents. “That” Tyson would have annihilated Wilder.
Wilder needs to keep his mind focused on what he’ll be facing in two days at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. His opponent, Luis Ortiz, is the best he’s faced in his 39-fight career. To his credit, Wilder wants to fight the best.
He was scheduled to fight Ortiz last November, but the bout was postponed after Ortiz tested positive for chlorothiazide and hydrochlorothiazide-drugs known for masking performance-enhancing drugs. Ortiz stated that the medication he was taking was for high blood pressure. The WBC investigated and found that he was telling the truth. They restored his ranking—clearing the way for Ortiz to fight for Wilder’s crown on March 3.
Ortiz took a tune-up fight a few months ago—starching Daniel Martz in a couple of rounds. Wilder was there to witness the blowout. He didn’t mince words.
"I was ready the first time,” said Wilder in the ring as Ortiz listened. “This is a new day for you. I think you’re one of the best heavyweights in the world and I want to prove that I am the best. You will have your fight. Be ready, I don’t want no excuses. I’m gonna whoop your ass."
Ortiz fired back.
"I’m ready for you," said Ortiz. "Anthony Joshua doesn’t want to fight either of us, so let’s give the world this fight. There will be no excuses. I will be ready to do this for Cuba."
Words and more words. Let’s look at the actions of the two fighters.
Wilder,32, is undefeated in 39 fights, scoring 38 knockouts. He’ll be defending his WBC strap for the seventh time against Ortiz. His game is all about his right hand. It’s loaded with power. His jab, when he uses it, is good. He’s athletic. That’s the good. Now the bad. Wilder still looks amateurish at times. He’s frequently off balance and his labored with average fighters. His chin is still suspect. He hasn’t beaten a top-tier heavyweight. His last fight was a brutal knockout of Bermane Stiverne, a man who hadn’t been in the ring for two years. His one-punch power has saved him.
Ortiz is 38 going on 46. Nobody really knows how old he is. Maybe his mother. Getting suspended twice has hurt his reputation, but make no mistake about it, the guy can fight. He learned how to box in the highly-respected Cuban amateur system. Ortiz will be giving up three inches to the six-foot-seven-inch Wilder. Reach is a wash. Ortiz can box or punch. His record shows 28 wins, with 24 knockouts. He knows how to fight on the inside. Like Wilder, his resume is thin. His biggest wins have come against Bryant Jennings and Tony Thompson.
Wilder wants a knockout. He’s fighting like guy with a chip on his shoulder. This can be good or bad. Good if he lands his right, bad if runs into a counter shot from Ortiz.
Ortiz is a live underdog. Winning will depend on what Ortiz shows up. The 38-year-old version gives him a real shot at defeating Wilder. On the other hand, Wilder, needs to be smart and take his time. He has the power to hurt anybody. But if he flails away, leaving himself open, Ortiz will nail him.
Wilder could end it early. So could Ortiz if he lands. If the bout goes into the later rounds, it’s anybody’s fight.