The tension and sense of expectation is palpable, filled with eager anticipation, as Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz prepare for another thrilling heavyweight title fight, on November 24 this year. The atmosphere at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas will be electric, as excitement builds and the crowd roars, while eyes will be glued to their screens elsewhere around the world.
The Clash of Unbeaten Titans
Last time these two heavyweight champions went toe to toe, both contenders boasted perfect fight records, Wilder 39-0 unbeaten and Ortiz 30-0 unbeaten, creating plenty of hype and expectations for a monumental battle in the ring. Despite a cautious start of jabbing and countering by the pair, the fight exploded into life in round five as Wilder floored Ortiz for the first time, starting to show his dominance by landing solid blows.
However, the Cuban managed to recover and, by the seventh round, he had the upper hand. A powerful left hand from Ortiz hurt the American badly, as Wilder struggled against the ropes and received further punishment, seriously shaken and looking as though his legs would give at any moment. At that point, it seemed as if the referee would stop the fight, although Wilder somehow survived until the bell rang for the end of the round.
Regaining his composure during the next rounds, the tide eventually turned for Wilder towards the end of round nine, catching Ortiz off his guard with a great right hand. Completing his recovery and with Ortiz running out of steam, Wilder then unloaded and his rival hit the canvas twice. That was enough for the referee, who felt that Ortiz couldn’t take any more, and he stopped the fight at 2:05 of the tenth round.
Road to the Rematch
The mutual respect between these two heavyweight titans was telling after the last bout. Both knew they had been tested to their limits, each glowing in their praise for the other. As the WBC Heavyweight Title goes up for grabs once more this coming November, over a year since the last encounter, the latest Wilder vs Ortiz betting odds suggest that it’s The Bronze Bomber who is the clear favourite, although King Kong from Cuba should never be underestimated.
Fortunes have been somewhat mixed for the two fighters, since that thrilling duel in March 2018. Ortiz recovered his winning form quickly with a second-round TKO against Razvan Cojanu the following July, then beat Travis Kauffman in the tenth round later that year in December. His only fight this year was a unanimous decision win against Christian Hammer, having controlled the fight and outpointing his opponent throughout.
Having beaten Ortiz, Wilder then faced Tyson Fury, in what turned out to be another grueling encounter. Although the American retained his WBC title, the fight against the British heavyweight was a split draw, inevitably leaving both fighters unsatisfied with the outcome and the sensation of unfinished business. The last bout for Wilder was much more straightforward, winning by knockout after just 2:17 of the first round.
Ahead of the rematch, Ortiz claimed he “won’t make the same mistake” of failing to finish Wilder, given the opportunity that arose in the last fight, insisting he’ll be much better prepared and hinting at a different tactical approach. Meanwhile, Wilder admitted the “first fight was a test” and although he also praised the ability of Ortiz, claimed himself as “the best in the world” of heavyweight boxing.
Awaiting the Winner
Some very interesting potential bouts could present themselves early next year, following the Wilder vs Ortiz rematch. Tyson Fury wants a rematch against Wilder after their draw, whatever the outcome of his fight against Ortiz. That said, the Gypsy King might have to keep waiting, given that either fighter might instead prefer to face the winner of the Andy Ruiz Jr vs Anthony Joshua rematch, which carries the added attraction of unifying all the heavyweight titles.
There’s certainly no shortage of fascinating potential fight cards in 2020, depending on the outcome of these thrilling bouts against powerful heavyweight champions, that will see out 2019. Indeed, it’s fair to say that the heavyweight division is back where it should be and with several amazing boxers that are hungry to be the best, we have some marvelous fights to look forward to in the next couple of years.