Deontay Wilder promises to knock “King Kong” Luis Ortiz off the Empire State Building
Both Wilder and Ortiz have had trouble securing legitimate fights for themselves. Wilder tried to arrange a fight against Alexander Povetkin, who was his mandatory and a solid contender, but the fight was called off due to Povetkin testing positive for meldonium. Another one of his mandatories, Andrzej Wawrzyk, also tested positive for the steroid stanozolol. Despite the PED problems, Wilder hasn’t exactly made the best effort to pursue the strongest challenges, Artur Szpilka (against whom he had some difficulty), and Chris Arreola; Gerald Washington, despite being overmatched, was a stand-in for Wawrzyk.
Ortiz’s problems have not been in the same vein as Wilder’s, but put him in the same position. Ortiz is the heavyweight version of what all graduates of the Cuban School of Boxing seem to encounter: being a maximum risk, minimum reward opponent. Couple the skill of Ortiz with his own PED entanglements (vs Lateef Kayode in late 2014) and the recipe for not fighting “King Kong” is easy to follow. After a second banned substance allegation, Ortiz’s shot at redemption was called off. How it all worked out is a bit complicated, but in the end WBC found that the banned substances were legitimate medications for high blood pressure and opted to keep Ortiz under a physician’s eye to monitor his health. Further, WBC, in cooperation with VADA, will keep Luis Ortiz under a strict, randomized testing regimen before and after the fight with Wilder.(Is boxing with HBP a good idea?).
Regardless of the issues both fighters have overcome, Bovada had Wilder opening up at -185 to Ortiz +150 on September 20th. Odds for Part Deux have yet to be released, though this match-up of a devastating puncher vs skilled boxer who sports respectable power himself should give us fireworks.
- How powerful is Wilder really? — Wilder’s record of 39(38)–0 would suggest that he’s an unstoppable wrecking machine that is going to put Ortiz to sleep in a matter of minutes. Wilder has only been taken the distance once by Stiverne, who suffered retribution in the rematch. While a glance at the record suggests one thing, the quality of opponents on that record isn’t exactly stellar. At this point we have no evidence to suggest Ortiz is chinny, unless…
- Is Ortiz feeling his age? — Officially, Luis Ortiz is nearly 40 years old, which is in no way young in a boxing ring. And there has been conjecture that Ortiz is much older than he says, though no one actually knows. Based on what we do know, Ortiz is facing a much younger and incredibly powerful opponent. Has he fallen off the proverbial cliff? In his “dust-off” fight following the VADA bust, he knocked out a no-hoper while looking decent. But he was supposed to look good in that fight, so no brownie points here.
- How does Wilder’s chin stand up? — On the flipside, Wilder has been wobbled before. It was a long time ago, but he was also dropped in the amateurs. Ortiz, coming from the Cuban School of Boxing™, is a lot more crafty and technical than one would normally expect from a heavyweight. Couple Oritz’s technique with Wilder’s chin, that can be checked, and it could mean trouble for the Bronze Bomber.
- Both fighters’ resumes — We’re not going to mince words: both Wilder and Ortiz have very little substance in their pro records. As mentioned, Wilder’s best win is Stiverne. Ortiz would probably have Bryant Jennings. That should illustrate the point I’m trying to make. It’s very easy to look like an unbeatable monster or the most avoided heavyweight when your opponents are prohibitive underdogs.
Frankly, this is just as much a make-or-break fight for both Wilder and Ortiz now as it was the first time it was announced. Despite holding a title, the veil of undefeated wrecking ball that Wilder has in front of himself convinces few. Ortiz is nearing 40 and doesn’t have much time left to cash out. The winner of this fight is likely to be lined up for Anthony Joshua — let’s assume he beats Parker — to unify titles and a get huge stadium fight.
Eddie Hearn has promised that the winner of this fight is guaranteed a shot at AJ, “If he comes through on the other side…we’re looking at the winner of that fight in spring, summer…before 2018 is out, for sure.” While the final belt does remain with Joseph Parker, who is about ready to fight AJ, without a doubt the winner of Wilder-Ortiz facing Anthony Joshua is the blockbuster heavyweight in the making (much more for Wilder than Ortiz). Both Wilder and Ortiz have not only heavyweight glory in front of them, but a very handsome payout being dangled before their eyes.
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