Aftermath: Wilder vs Ortiz
Deontay Wilder was outfoxed early by Luis Ortiz and on the verge of defeat, only to turn things around and retain his WBC heavyweight title with a tenth-round stoppage. Callum Rudge, Andrew Harrison, James Oddy and Shaun Brown debate the contest and what comes next for both men...
BM: Your assessment of the fight and score at the time of the stoppage?
CR: I had it 87-83 Ortiz at the time of the stoppage. Wilder was being thoroughly outboxed by the Cuban in the early rounds but I felt Wilder was comfortable with that - knowing that the older man would tire and he would have a chance to let his hands go without repercussions. While the first part was true and he was able to let his hands go, there were repercussions after Wilder was hurt badly in the seventh - he showed great heart and conditioning to survive and compose himself. Wilder paced the fight well and deserves credit for finding the knockout when he needed it.
AH: I had Ortiz ahead something like 7 rounds to 2 (with a knockdown in Wilder's favour closing the gap somewhat). A sound enough boxer, Ortiz completely shut Wilder down for long periods and controlled much of the fight (while not doing a lot himself). It looked as though Wilder intended to box from range but, unlike against the lamentable Bermane Stiverne, he found himself in with an opponent with the ability to nullify his height and reach advantages.
JO: I was interrupted from watching the full fight by Oddy Jr but I had Ortiz ahead from what I saw.
SB: I had Ortiz 86-84 up before it was waved off. Ortiz boxed smartly and effectively for the first five rounds, and it seemed to take that amount of time for Wilder to figure him out before that nuclear missile of a right hand started finding its range. Ortiz had his window in rounds seven and eight which turned out to be Wilder's gut check, and he passed. If Wilder has to take one more fight before a unification then I wouldn't mind seeing a rematch.
BM: Would a younger Ortiz have taken Wilder out? Is this the end for 'King Kong' now?
CR: It’s hard to say, men of this size will always struggle after throwing everything at their man only for them to stay up. Ortiz put on a good showing, he has nothing to be ashamed of. I think Showtime will want him on their network again but it’s hard to see him get another crack at a title, the path already looks laid out for Wilder and Joshua to meet at some point in the next 12/18 months.
AH: Ortiz really should have lowered the boom on Wilder when he had him reeling. Whether a few less birthdays would have allowed him to do so is one for him and his grandchildren to ponder. I don't think this will be the end for him, however. Though he's no Jersey Joe Walcott, he has enough boxing acumen to allow for a fairly comfortable time against most of the rest of the division
JO: Considering Ortiz has been erratic with his output over his pro career it's impossible to say. You'd like to think had he been fresher he could have ended the fight in the seventh round or soon after. The heavyweight division is severely lacking depth at the moment so should he wish to continue I'm sure he'll get opportunities. A title may be beyond him now, however, as the Wilder/Joshua/Parker/Fury quartet are where the money fights are
SB: Ortiz made his pro debut a month shy of his 31st birthday (we're led to believe). By the time we saw something that resembled a heavyweight contender in the Cuban he was well into his thirties. Would he have taken Wilder out 2-3 years ago? Quite possibly but we'll never know. Ortiz is lucky to be in the sport but you have to play with the ball you've given. It's not right, we can't puncture that ball, but if Ortiz stays fit, clean and healthy he is a major threat to all heavyweight players. I, for one, didn't see that performance coming from Ortiz.
BM: Does the fight raise more questions than answers about Wilder or the reverse?
CR: I think he answered questions about his chin and heart. We already knew he was wild and unorthodox but on Saturday we saw him in a scrap vs a good technician and he found a way to win. Kudos to him and his team.
AH: I don't think this fight told us anything we didn't already know. We knew Wilder was a vulnerable fighter with often cringe-making technique coming in. We also knew he could hang tough when wobbled and, crucially, turn a fight with one punch (swat, swing, lunge, haymaker, whatever). You have to give him credit for repeatedly being able to circumvent his own limitations by letting it all hang out. He has a lot of character and will keep on pitching if you let him
JO: It showed me that Wilder can rally and isn't going to give up his portion of the crown without a real fight. Nobody has really pushed him until now and despite Ortiz outboxing and hurting him he stuck at it. He's crude and always will be but mentally he's tough. People forget his stated reason for fighting is his daughter's health and any man fighting for such a reason can't be underestimated.
SB: Wilder answered many of the questions that were still out there. His wild side remains but there was more patience about him last night. When he smells blood the wheels come off in an effective fashion that has proved too much for his opponents. His chin stood up, his body recovered after a torrid seventh and eighth. There's not many questions left for him to answer.
BM: Provided Anthony Joshua gets past Joseph Parker, who wins a Joshua vs Wilder showdown?
CR: Joshua would rightly start the favourite, he’s obviously a better technician than Wilder and a bigger puncher than Ortiz but a nagging part of me thinks Wilder could provide Joshua with his Oliver McCall moment. I think Joshua has taken his foot off the pedal a touch both in the ring and in terms of keeping up his image out of it. The mask is slipping and he strikes me as someone who knows his status and could become complacent if he’s not careful.
AH: In my opinion, Joshua obliterates Wilder. Joshua continues to improve technically whereas the American is what he is: a vulnerable fighter with a terrific punch. A good quality heavyweight will exploit the former.
JO: Joshua would be favourite but I just have this feeling Wilder could be his undoing. I usually try to think logically about fights but Wilder is so crude and dangerous you'd have to think he'd land once. I just hope the fight happens.
SB: Joshua isn't as crafty as Ortiz and can be a bit predictable too. The power that Wilder possesses is greater than Joshua's whereas the Brit grinds you down with heavy hands and is constantly in front of you on the offensive. Right now I see Joshua vs Wilder as 50-50. Wilder is a far greater threat than he was. This is all music to Parker's ears. His name will be out of the equation after last night. He's the third man, the quiet man, but he has it in him to upset the money spinning plans for Joshua vs Wilder.