WBC Heavyweight king Deontay Wilder and Cuban Luis Ortiz run back their fight this weekend, and being honest, I almost feel guilty about looking forward to the bout.
The fight is rather a peculiar affair. Despite being an excellent contest between two elite Heavyweights, when the rematch was first announced, most boxing fans, myself included, were slightly disappointed.
In the first bout, Ortiz turned it into a gruelling encounter. He caught Wilder with big punches several times and on two occasions Wilder was seemingly out on his feet, in a way we had not seen from the American before. The Alabama man managed to survive either onslaught, fight on, and navigated his way to victory, stopping Ortiz mercilessly in the tenth round.
So why would most not be ecstatic about the repeat of such a spectacle?
There is the fact that I, like most of the boxing world, would much rather see Wilder take other fights. The likes of Whyte, Fury or the undisputed fight, versus the winner of Joshua and Ruiz when that concludes December seventh, all make for more intriguing viewing. The issue, sadly, is each of these fights are much harder to be made from a business sense than the all PBC clash we witness Saturday. This means little to a fan like I, who just wishes to see the best fight the best.
There is also the sad fact that the Miami based brawler, Ortiz, has failed multiple doping tests over the years. This is no issue to the WBC apparently, who seem to feel Ortiz’s past is not relevant, or doping at all for that matter, particularly given their recently announced higher acceptable clenbuterol levels. This somewhat leaves a sour taste, particularly given the well-documented and awful year boxing has had. Even harder to understand given their suspension of Dillian Whyte, which was based purely on speculation, and the small issue he never failed a VADA test. Further evidence of the failings of the once-great sanctioning body.
Ortiz not being the most boisterous chap also makes the build up a lot less engaging. I’m all for boxing being about boxing and wrestling for silly antics, but one can’t deny the Fury press tour with the various incidents and the Billy-Joe Nando’s episode made for a far more exciting show. We could alternatively have Dillian Whyte’s conference clashes, or hopefully, the amazing undisputed bout and mind games a Joshua or Ruiz clash would present. Each is a more rousing prospect than the one Ortiz poses in the run-up to the two pugilists meeting in the ring. The lack of build-up isn’t a great deal, but it just makes it harder to sell the fight to the masses, particularly in this case given the language barrier.
The age of Ortiz is also an issue. Nobody knows how old for sure Ortiz is. He is officially aged forty and must surely be coming toward the end of his career. It’s worth noting that it has been long rumoured he may even be older, given the notoriety of Cuba concerning their record keeping. Ideally, if ever, given his drugs past, we would have liked to see Ortiz challenging for title several years ago. His last few performances have been decent, but not against any notable opposition. He will have to prove what he has left on Saturday night, and there’s a valid perspective that the first Wilder fight could have taken a fair bit out of him. Although I must concede, given what we have seen of him in training, Ortiz doesn’t look in bad shape at all.
All of that said; Ortiz is not a bad fight for Wilder. The first encounter was an excellent battle. Ortiz hurt Wilder the most of any of his previous opponents and provided him by far his toughest fight to date barring Tyson Fury, who presented Wilder with a much more technical affair. The issue is, and it feels slightly comical moaning about this, but if the Ortiz who turned up from the first fight turns up again, he may well triumph.
The Cuban is a monster and knows he can hurt Wilder as he has already managed to do it. He’s a better boxer by far technically, and he will be chomping at the bit to right the wrong from the first bout. If Ortiz was to upset the apple cart in an Andy Ruiz manner, all the fights we crave with the likes of Fury, Whyte and the undisputed fight will be even further away, which is my issue with the match: There are many good contests to be made in the glamourous Heavyweight division, Saturday’s bout is one of them, just not THE ONE.
As a patriotic British boxing fan, I would, of course, like to see a Fury rematch, and Fury rightfully takes the win that was taken from him in the first fight by some terrible judging. Equally, I would love to see Whyte get his long-overdue WBC shot, provided he is cleared by UKAD which we fully expect him to be. I would equally like the undisputed fight with the winner of Saudi’s fight in December before the titles are scattered due to mandatories being forced.
I hope and would predict with not all that much certainty, that Wilder will prevail against Ortiz.
Wilder, for all his flaws and disgusting talk of wanting a body on his record, has never failed a doping test, (other than for weed), and I’d rather see a much more tested and cleaner fighter, take the win and then move on. His fight with Fury was a joy to behold, and the build-up was a great precursor to the action that followed.
He’s also the younger man. Although Ortiz is a beast, surely his time waiting for the rematch can’t have done him any favours, particularly for a man in his forties, maybe even fifties! There’s Wilder’s freakish power, which is frankly ridiculous for a smaller, skinnier Heavyweight and it was that which ultimately earned him the win against Ortiz in their first bout.
Granted, Ortiz could potentially look to outbox him. Although the Cuban most likely isn’t tall enough to keep the Alabama Bomber at range like the elusive Fury. Fury was even tagged by Wilder memorably himself, getting dropped twice. The latter marking one of the most historic knockdown survivals of all time. Ortiz will likely have to fight and go toe to toe with Deontay. Ortiz is strong and can hit hard, which make it likely Wilder will have some testing moments in this fight. Although Ortiz can brawl, Wilder proved his toughness in their last fight, and for that reason, I’d expect him to use his power as he always does and stop Ortiz late on. There will be sticky moments I feel, but eventually, it will end similarly to their first fight.
When Wilder fought Breazeale, I also predicted Breazeale would drag him into later rounds. How wrong I was! Therefore, don’t be surprised if the unpredictable and wild Wilder does turn around and lay Ortiz out with a crazy haymaker in the first round. I doubt it, but in the Heavyweight division, as we know, anything could happen.
To me, this fight feels like when you go to a restaurant with your heart set on steak. When you arrive, they have none left, so you settle with a burger. There is nothing to say your burger won’t be satisfying, it will be pretty good for sure, but it’s not what you want, so it just doesn’t feel right. That’s the way I feel about Wilder Ortiz.
I will watch and enjoy, and I hope that Wilder is victorious, simply so we can see any of the three fights I want to be made next. Fury’s fight with Wilder is allegedly already signed for February, and I certainly hope that’s the case. Possibly then we can see Whyte fight the winner, and maybe then an undisputed fight around September time.
I doubt it, but I guess I can dream.
By Aaron Ludford for SimBoxx
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