Deontay “Bronze Bomber” Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs) will enter a dangerous rematch with Luis “King Kong” Ortiz (31-1-0, 26 KOs) on Saturday, November 23rd at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas. It’s a big gamble, but if successful, a huge rematch with Tyson Fury awaits.
Wilder will be making his tenth defence of the WBC heavyweight championship.
Fans are understandably divided over this decision but no one is more grateful than the Cuban, who will get a second chance to shock the world after severely testing Wilder the first time out.
Tale of the Tape
On paper, the stats favour Wilder who has the youth, height and reach advantages to nullify Ortiz’s skillset. They are both physically strong and efficient finishers with nearly seventy knockouts between them.
Prior to their 2018 meeting, the two men had fought two common opponents in Joseph Rabotte and Malik Scott. Ortiz scored what was originally a third round knockout over Rabotte in 2013 (later changed to a no contest) while Wilder blasted him out in one round in 2009.
Wilder knocked out Scott in the first round in March 2014 but Ortiz had to settle for a unanimous decision against him in 2016. Scott is one of four opponents to have gone the distance with Ortiz while only Bermane Stiverne (first fight) has ever avoided a stoppage loss against Wilder.
Wilder’s fearsome right hand is probably the most devastating weapon in boxing but he has a pretty good jab too and is beginning to use it more.
Ortiz is the busier fighter and is generally less accurate except when it comes to throwing power shots.
Wilder vs Ortiz 1
No fair analysis can be given about this fight without looking back to their original March 2018 meeting.
Ortiz dominated the first five rounds that night in Brooklyn with his technical savvy. In fact, he appeared to be on the cusp of finishing the WBC champion in the final minute of the seventh round after battering the American against the ropes.
However, Wilder survived the scariest 45 seconds of his career and showed tremendous heart by storming back to knockout the Cuban in the tenth, to avoid an upset.
Some observers noted how the slick southpaw, Ortiz seemed to fade down the stretch. His camp has certainly made conditioning a focal point having enlisted the help of Larry Wade, men’s track assistant coach at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Ortiz appears to be in better shape and a bit more muscular in recent video footage. He was a bit heavy at 241lbs in the first fight but looks more trim now so it will be interesting to see what this means for his strategy this time around.
What’s At Stake?
Ortiz needs more validation than Wilder having yet to win a legitimate world title and at 40 years old, time is running out. He could become the first Cuban-born heavyweight champion with a win over Wilder. Ortiz has notched three wins since the loss to Wilder and feels he’s picking up right where he left off.
“This is a continuation of the first fight for me. It’s round 11,” said Ortiz.
“I was pushing the pace, and it was a bit slow because Wilder fights at a slow pace.
“He doesn’t throw more than 25-to-30 punches a round. I was the one triple jabbing, hitting him in the body, cutting the ring off and pushing him back every single round. I’m going to continue doing what worked well for me.”
For Wilder, all roads lead back to Tyson Fury. Their deal required each man to take two interim bouts. Fury defeated Tom Schwartz in June and Otto Wallin in September. Wilder destroyed Dominic Breazeale in May and needs to get past Ortiz on Saturday to secure the mega rematch slated for Feb 22.
Ortiz gave Wilder fits in their first bout and nearly stopped the unbeaten champion before his tank emptied. Wilder struggled to adjust to his opponent’s southpaw stance and took more punishment to the head and body than we had ever seen.
Wilder was always a threat but Ortiz’s defence was remarkable that night as he slipped bombs and countered at will. Ortiz will need to display that same aggression and get inside of Wilder’s long reach to inflict any real damage.
The problem is the challenger may have already peaked but Wilder still triumphed. Ortiz is now two years older and faces a more experienced champion who will likely take a more technical approach this time around.
There is genuine animosity between these men so this fight will likely have the same outcome, that is, another violent yet satisfying end.
Prediction: Wilder by TKO/KO in 6th Round
Co-Feature & Undercard Headliners
The co-main event will feature undefeated rising star Brandon Figueroa (20-0, 15 KOs) as he puts his WBA super bantamweight title on the line against Julio Ceja (32-4, 28 KOs).
Figueroa won the interim version of the belt two fights ago before being promoted to the division’s regular champion ahead of the showdown with Ceja.
Ceja is a former champion on a two-fight losing skid, most recently dropping a decision against Guillermo Rigondeaux in June.
Also on the card, Leo Santa Cruz (36-1-1, 19 KOs) looks to capture world championship gold in a fourth weight class when he faces Miguel Flores (24-2, 12 KOs) for the vacant WBA super featherweight title.
Since avenging his only career loss with a majority decision win over Carl Frampton, the Mexican has defeated Chris Avalos, Abner Mares and Rafael Rivera.
He’s moving up in weight to face Flores, who will be challenging for a title for the first time in his career.
Marsellos Wilder (6-1, 2 KOs), younger brother of Deontay, faces 37-year-old Dustin Long (2-1-2, 2 KOs) in a four-round cruiserweight bout.
Wilder has scored unanimous decision wins in each of his last two fights. Long is a former basketball player, who has dabbled in both boxing and mixed martial arts, where he has an 8-5 professional record.