By Jason Gonzalez at ringside
Deontay Wilder detonated heavy artillery on the man known as “King Kong” Luis Ortiz. It was the type of firepower that Ortiz wasn’t familiar with. They were the type of bombs that he just simply couldn’t handle.
At 40-0 with 39 knockouts, Wilder, the WBC heavyweight champion, has truly separated himself from the rest of his contemporaries. He now stands on top of the division because he possesses weapons of mass destruction.
Last Saturday night, before a crowd of 14,069, Wilder retained his title for the 7th time, via a spectacular 10th round knockout of the former Cuban amateur champion Ortiz in the main event at Barclays Center. The contest can only be summed up in five words: a modern-day boxing classic.
"King Kong’ ain’t got nothing on me,” a joyous Wilder shouted during his post-fight interview with Jim Gray, in which he referenced Denzel Washington’s famous line in his Oscar-winning role from the movie Training Day. “A true champion always finds a way to come back and that’s what I did tonight. Luis Ortiz is definitely a crafty guy. He put up a great fight. We knew we had to wear him down. I showed everyone I can take a punch.”
Wilder was very complimentary towards his counterpart that nearly became the first Cuban-born heavyweight champion. Ortiz went out on his shield and was within inches from forcing Wilder to taste defeat.
“When he leaves tonight Ortiz can hold his head high,” said the 32-year-old native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. “He gave the fans a hell of a fight.”
Ortiz almost stopped Wilder in a brutally one-sided seventh round, but to Wilder’s credit, he kept his composure and showed the true grit of a world champion. Fight fans alike have all the more reason to gloat now, because the road to Wilder-Anthony Joshua is now a straight shot, assuming that Joshua gets by Joseph Parker at the end of the month in Cardiff, Wales.
"I feel fine. I did receive a right hand, but I’m okay," Ortiz would say through an interpreter. "I was listening to the directions that my corner was giving me. In this sport, any punch can end a fight. It was a great fight and I performed well. I thought I was up on the scorecard going in to the 10th round, but its heavyweight boxing and you never know what’s going to happen."
From the time that the fight was signed, Ortiz was deemed as a legitimate threat to upset the apple cart. A lot of the pundits as well as the other distinguished members of the boxing media described Ortiz as the first “real opponent” that Wilder will have fought. But by weighing in at a lean 214 pounds, the more athletic, although flawed Wilder, proved to the masses that he was just the better overall fighter. Wilder asked the press,
“How do you like me now?”
Wilder, who was led to the ring by Lil’ Kim of Brooklyn, jabbed from the outside at the onset of the bout. Taking Ortiz’s pedigree into consideration, it wasn’t shocking to see him match Wilder at his own game. There were instances in the bout that the shorter Ortiz was besting the champion.
The first four rounds started off slowly. It was obvious that both men had a lot of respect for each other’s power. However, things took a turn in round five. Wilder scored a knockdown via a straight right hand.
There were four things that were revealed about Wilder in this victory. 1.) He exhibited the poise and patience that only great athletes do when in the clutch situations. 2.) Unlike most heavyweights that throw a lot of punches, tiring themselves out, Wilder doesn’t expend any unnecessary energy. 3.) He believes in himself as well as his punching prowess. Whenever you have prodigious power like Wilder does, he will always be a threat from rounds 1 through 12. It is now obvious that he can take a good shot to chin.
A Wilder right uppercut spelled the e-n-d for Ortiz, who touched the canvas two more times in the 10th. At the time of the stoppage, Wilder was ahead on all three of the judges’ scorecards by 1 point, 85-84. With the loss Ortiz tasted defeat for the first time in 29 fights.
Wilder and Ortiz were originally scheduled to fight in November, however, the 38-year-old Ortiz tested positive for a banned substance and was scratched off the card. Moving forward, Ortiz was able to substantiate that the positive result was the cause of medication for hypertension. Ortiz was then pardoned by the WBC and given a second chance.
The only fight that matters now in the sport of boxing is Wilder and Joshua. It must happen, it has to happen. It is inevitable.
In regards to his nemesis across the pond in the United Kingdom, “I’m ready right now. I always said that I want to unify. I’m ready whenever those guys are,” he would say. “I am the baddest man on the planet and I proved that tonight. This solidified my position at the top of the food chain tonight.”
In the co-feature bout of the evening, super middleweight Jose Uzcategui employed a whupping on Andre Dirrell, prompting his corner to stop the fight in the 9th round of their rematch of their controversial first fight, in which Dirrell’s uncle punched the Mexican Uzcategui in the face shortly after the fight was ruled a disqualification.
The loss brings Dirrell’s ledger to 26-3, (16). With the victory, Uzcategui captured the interim IBF strap.
The 34-year-old Dirrell was a shell of himself, merely pop-shotting and retreating most of the fight. Dirrell, who was once known as “The Matrix”, looked more like a glitch. Maybe the oracle was speaking to him in the form of punches from Uzcategui. For anyone wondering if Dirrell was still an elite fighter, a response would only take half a bar. He’s shot.
In the past, Wilder has been heard telling all those that would listen that he was the best heavyweight in the world. But after a performance such as the one he put forth against Ortiz, you would be hard pressed to disagree with him.