Deontay Wilder knows Luis Ortiz is 40, and he knows the common wisdom going around is that the Cuban veteran probably had his best shot at knocking off the WBC titleholder when they first met in March 2018.
Ortiz came up short that night in a wild brawl, of course, but Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KO) believes that Ortiz (31-1, 26 KO) remains one of the most daunting opponents in the heavyweight division — and he thinks that’s why none of the other top fighters will face him.
“Luis Ortiz is one of the best in the world and one of the most dangerous men in boxing. No one in the top 10 has given him an opportunity,” Wilder said on Wednesday at their press conference. “They say he’s old, but if that’s the truth, then one of them should get in there with him.
“When I look at the landscape of the heavyweight division, this man still wasn’t getting an opportunity. It was an amazing fight the first time and I’m going to make adjustments this time. That’s what it’s all about. I will be at my best Saturday night.”
The only thing this statement ignores is that Ortiz was by all accounts given a legitimate offer this past spring to step in on short notice and fight Anthony Joshua, which his management team flubbed. Still, he’s back and has another crack at Wilder now, so the year isn’t a total loss by any means, and he express his own respect for Wilder.
“This isn’t just Deontay fighting any other opponent. Obviously Deontay had his reasons for taking this fight,” Ortiz said. “But on Saturday, I’m going to show why that was a mistake. I’m going to be the new heavyweight champion of the world. This is the holy grail, to be taking on the true heavyweight champion of the world. I want to be considered one of the greatest fighters ever from Cuba.”
Like the first fight, Ortiz isn’t expecting this to go the distance.
“This is not going 12 rounds,” he stated. “One of us is getting knocked out. I wish there were no bells between rounds so we could just keep going.”
Wilder believes he’ll be the better-conditioned and better-prepared man on Saturday, and that’s something Ortiz admits was a problem the first time around.
“Luis Ortiz looks good, but I don’t think it’s going to matter against a fighter like me,” Wilder said. “I’m in shape 365 days a year. I come to camp in shape. The first day of camp, we were sparring. It’s always good to see my opponents in shape and prepared properly for a war. That’s all I can ask. Because they know what they’re in for when they go against me.”
“I don’t like to lose. There were legitimate circumstances why I wasn’t at my best the first fight,” Ortiz said. “It was a fatigue stoppage. I believe if I had continued, I would have gotten the knockout. It was only fatigue, but I’ve corrected that this time around, so the better man will win.”
But Wilder’s obvious confidence in his power, as always, shone through.
“My opponent has to be perfect for 12 rounds,” he said, “and I only have to be perfect for one second.”