Record: 39-0 (38 KO) ... Streak: W39 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 6’7” / 83” ... Age: 32
Thoughts: Deontay Wilder has scary power, and was never more frightening than he was last November, when he faced Bermane Stiverne in a rematch in Brooklyn. Stiverne was the only fighter to have gone the distance with Wilder, who was originally supposed to face Luis Ortiz on the date of their rematch.
Wilder came out to make a statement, to make an example of Stiverne in front of the world and, perhaps most importantly, the rest of the heavyweight division. Wilder beastmoded all over Stiverne, literally leaping into the air to deliver wild punishment, putting Stiverne away with terrifying ferocity.
Wilder has his detractors, like any fighter, and will probably never shake them, at least until he faces and beats Anthony Joshua. And being fair to both sides, there are reasons to criticize Wilder’s WBC title reign.
Since lifting the belt from Stiverne in January 2015, he’s beaten Eric Molina, Johann Duhaupas, Artur Szpilka, Chris Arreola, Gerald Washington, and then Stiverne again. It’s not exactly Murderer’s Row, but it’s what he’s done. And to be fair yet again, he’s finished every challenger convincingly.
Ortiz is a big, unbeaten slugger of a challenger. He’s considered a top contender, overlooking his issues with the failed drug test last year, and the WBC is overlooking it, so the rest of us might as well get used to it. This fight’s happening — months later than it was supposed to, but it’s happening.
Record: 28-0 (24 KO) ... Streak: W28 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Southpaw ... Height/Reach: 6’4” / 84” ... Age: 38
Thoughts: I can’t say for sure if Luis Ortiz has a genuine medical condition or if he was trying to game the system last year. But either way, he got caught doing something he shouldn’t have, lost a fight, and boxing’s justice being what it is, well, here he is a few months later with the same opportunity. This is the sport we follow.
So let’s focus on what Ortiz is in the ring. At times, he looks like a beast, a 6’4”, thick, Cuban southpaw heavyweight, a fighter with skills and power. But what are we basing his top contender status on? Image, mostly. He looks like a big threat, so he’s seen as a big threat.
Who has he beaten? Bryant Jennings was probably his best win, back in December 2015. He finished Jennings in seven, and looked good doing it. He beat a faded Tony Thompson after that, then labored through 12 rounds against Malik Scott, who can ugly up a fight when he wants to, and he wanted to do it that night. In his last two, Ortiz has beaten David Allen and Daniel Martz, non-contenders, in the past two Decembers.
Is he a threat to Wilder? Sure. He’s a big, strong guy who’s a threat to anyone he faces. But how long is he a threat to Wilder? How good is his stamina? How long is his power truly dangerous? That’s the real question, at least to me.
Matchup Grade: B+. There are some thoughts that Ortiz is past his truly dangerous days, but to me there’s no question that he’s dangerous early, and Wilder is always dangerous early. We say this when a lot of fights wind up going 12 rounds, but I really can’t see this thing going the distance. Someone’s going down, and hard.
- Andre Dirrell vs Jose Uzcategui: The first fight wasn’t exactly a thriller, but for various reasons, it’s a necessary rematch, with the winner in line for a shot at the IBF super middleweight title, currently held by Caleb Truax. Dirrell is the better boxer, but Uzcategui was outfighting him before the DQ last year, so this is 50-50 on paper. Grade: B-