We’ve got two big world title fights coming today from Las Vegas and Liverpool (there are other world title fights, but calling them “big” would be kind of a stretch), so let’s take a look at the tale of the tape for Wilder-Ortiz 2 and Smith-Ryder ahead of these fights.
The FOX pay-per-view main event is the day’s Big Fight, as Deontay Wilder defends his WBC heavyweight title against Luis Ortiz in a rematch.
There’s a lot more than just that belt on the line here. If Wilder wins, he’s looking at another rematch, a highly-anticipated second showdown with Tyson Fury, at least if the deal truly gets done. The Fury and Top Rank side say it’s set, Wilder has consistently seemed a little less committed to that — maybe it’s because he has a tough fight ahead of him here, maybe it’s not truly all signed, maybe he’s waiting to see what happens with Ruiz-Joshua 2 in a couple weeks. Whatever it is, Wilder has repeatedly expressed some doubt about the Fury rematch actually happening in February as Fury and Bob Arum have said it will.
Ortiz was a tough matchup for Wilder the first time, and he looked good on the scales on Friday, coming in at his lowest, leanest-looking weight in a while. It’s not as if he’s sacrificed bulk to do it, as the man is built like a tank, but he may have felt the need to possibly have a bit more speed this time around
Wilder has the height and reach advantages. Both proved they can take at least some punishment from the other when they met about 20 months ago, but they also showed they can be hurt by the other man. Ortiz says he was fatigued more than hurt when the fight was stopped, but Wilder’s right hand is a bomb, and his left hook is no picnic either when he unleashes it.
Wilder is the favorite and should be — he’s younger, he’s seen Ortiz once, and he’s already beaten him once. But Ortiz is a big, powerful man, and will be dangerous once again.
Smith is the top dog at 168 pretty much without question. David Benavidez might quibble, and we’d all certainly love to see them settle any debate in the ring, but Smith has earned that spot.
Smith is a fine boxer, but he’s not flawless or anything. I’ve said this before and I don’t mean it to be taken the wrong way, but it surely will be — I’m not sure Callum is actually a particularly better boxer than, say, his brother Liam, but unlike Liam, Callum is an absolute physical monster for his weight class. His height and reach are basically the same as Luis Ortiz (Smith’s an inch shorter), and he weighs about 70 pounds less than Ortiz on the scales each time out.
You don’t have to be an incredible talent when you’ve got the natural physical advantages Smith routinely has over his opponents. The fact that Smith is legitimately good combined with his massive size at 168 (and he’ll be really big at 175, too) makes him a tough task for anyone.
Ryder is a game, rugged fighter, a solid contender, certainly far from the worst mandatory challenger we’ve seen this year or any other year, and he’s on a nice run. If he can manage to get inside on Smith, he could make it a bit more uncomfortable than most are expecting, but that’s a tall order. Ryder is a pretty good fighter; Smith is the best fighter in the world at his weight. This even being particularly competitive would be a bit of an upset, and that’s not meant as disrespect to John Ryder.