Deontay Wilder Shows Heart Of Champion Against Luis Ortiz
At the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Deontay Wilder vs Luis Ortiz took place for the WBC heavyweight title.
It’s a fight that had already fallen through once before, after Ortiz committed an anti-doping violation. But after being rescheduled, it remained significant for the future of the heavyweight division. Later this month Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker will fight for the IBF, WBA and WBO titles and the world will ultimately want to see all four heavyweight belts unified. Ortiz was difficult opponent for him. He took Wilder to the brink of defeat but the WBC champion uncorked a devastating finishing blow in the 10th round. For six rounds, Wilder, the W.B.C. heavyweight champion, was befuddled by the awkward southpaw style of Luis Ortiz. And in the seventh round, Wilder’s dream of a unification match against England’s Anthony Joshua — a fight that could earn each boxer more money than Ali and Frazier made in their entire careers — came perhaps one punch from crashing down in flames. After nine rounds, it appeared that Wilder was finished, the snap gone from his punches and the fire gone from his eyes. And then came the 10th round, and the reason Wilder remains unbeaten after 40 pro fights, despite sometimes fighting with all the technical skill of a novice Golden Glover.Halfway through the round, Wilder suddenly found the range with a straight right-left hook combinationThen Wilder — whose name often approximates his fighting style — began flailing away with both hands, driving the rubbery-legged Ortiz against the ropes, where he made a ready target for Wilder’s right uppercut. It seemingly came up from the floor and had Ortiz momentarily gazing at the Barclays Center ceiling.Ortiz dropped to his knees, referee David Fields immediately waved the bout over, and just like that, Wilder’s near-disaster had turned into a smashing success.“Deontay walked through the fire tonight,” said Lou DiBella, Wilder’s shaken promoter, who like his fighter stood to lose a windfall had the fight run to what appeared to be its inevitable conclusion.Somehow, the three judges had Wilder leading, 85-84, through nine rounds, but to the 14,065 fans in the arena, who had raucously cheered Wilder’s entrance into the ring but been stunned into silence by the fury of Ortiz’s seventh-round onslaught, it had to appear as if a monumental upset was in the works.“He had me in a whirlwind,” Wilder said. “And I knew I had to get out of it.”Wilder, who had dropped Ortiz for a brief count in the fifth round, weathered the worst moments of his unblemished career over the final 40 seconds of Round 7, after Ortiz beat Wilder to the punch as both simultaneously threw right hands. Wilder’s head snapped back and he stumbled into the ropes, where Ortiz relentlessly poured in a series of 1-2s that had Fields, the referee, looking closely at the champion, who appeared out on his feet., and down went Ortiz. He barely struggled to his feet at the count of nine. But Wilder made it to the bell, and was afforded an extra 10 seconds or so of rest when the ringside physician summoned him to a neutral corner for an examination as the bell rang for Round 8. With Ortiz visibly tired, Wilder was able to make it through that round and the ninth without sustaining much more damage, although he appeared to lose both of them. “When he made it through that seventh round, I had a feeling he was going to get this guy,” DiBella said. “He overcame adversity and that’s the true sign of a champion.”One ringside observer, Evander Holyfield, one of the last men to hold an undisputed heavyweight title, agreed. “He got hit so many times I don’t know how he stayed up,” Holyfield said. “It takes a lot of confidence to come back from that, and in the eighth round he came back out like he never even got hit. That’s what made him win the fight.”