Deontay Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KOs) was being comprehensively outboxed by Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz (31-2, 26 KOs) before knocking out his opponent in the seventh round to end their rematch at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night.
‘The Bronze Bomber’ dropped his Cuban rival hard with a powerful right hand to the forehead behind a sneaky jab. Ortiz struggled to gather himself, clearly buzzed and in no condition to continue as the referee counted him out a 2:51.
It was an emphatic ending to their prior March 2018 meeting in Brooklyn, which saw Ortiz nearly stop the American in a dramatic seventh round only to be stopped himself later in the tenth.
The 40-year-old gave Wilder his stiffest test yet and the champion offered him a rematch and a rare chance at redemption.
This was Wilder’s first match at the MGM Grand since winning the world title by lop-sided decision over Bermane Stiverne in January 2015. It also marked his tenth defence of the WBC heavyweight strap.
The fight started at a very slow and cautious pace with Ortiz controlling much of the action, outworking as well as outlanding Wilder.
In fact, Wilder, 34, appeared reluctant to throw the right hand or anything of consequence which allowed Ortiz to bag rounds in the early going. He did manage to land a solid right hand in the third round that got Ortiz’s attention but it did not otherwise change the tempo of the fight.
Ortiz would continue to dominate and landed two hard lefts in the fourth that backed Wilder up and caused him to respond by simply beating his chest.
Wilder began to have more success in the mid-rounds as he begun to pick his spots for landing the perfect punch, but continued to fight at a measured pace while respecting his opponent’s skills and power.
💣💣💣KNOCKOUT – Don’t Blink!
Another brilliant knockout victory for Deontay Wilder who ends the rematch with a massive right hand pic.twitter.com/ukOkzgkWSf
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) November 24, 2019
The single right cross from Wilder that split Ortiz’s guard and put him down abruptly ended the otherwise one-sided fight.
“You can see why no other heavyweight wants to fight Ortiz,” Wilder said.
“He’s very crafty in the ring and he moves strategically. I had to play around with him and measure him in certain places. I had to go back and go forward.
“My intellect is very high although I don’t get credit for it. I finally found my measurement and I took the shot and I hurt him.”
The odds were against Ortiz from the outset given his advanced age. He still gave a good account of himself in this fight by outlanding Wilder 35-34 overall and connecting on 28-17 power punches. In the end, however, it was still not enough to get the win.
“This is boxing. I told everybody that it would either be him or me and it wasn’t going to go 12 rounds,” Ortiz said.
“I was trying to get up by [the referee’s] count was a little bit quicker than I thought.”
Wilder can now set his sights on a massive rematch against unbeaten lineal champion Tyson Fury in February 2020. As dangerous as Ortiz was last night, the ultra-talented Brit figures to be an even tougher assignment.
Santa Cruz Outclasses Flores
Three-division champion Leo “El Terremoto” Santa Cruz won a fourth title via unanimous decision, outclassing Miguel Flores in their co-main event. Santa Cruz claimed the vacant WBA ‘super’ world super featherweight title for his spirited effort.
Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs) had moved up in weight to face Flores (24-3, 12 KOs) and can now add world titles at 118, 122, 126 and 130 to his impressive ledger. He won on scores of 115-112, 117-110 and 117-110, which probably should have been wider considering his overall proficiency.
That’s not to say Flores did not give a legitimate effort (he did) and actually succeeded in outworking the high work-rate from Santa Cruz in stretches. However, the Mexican was more accurate and often landed the more telling shots.
Leo continued to impress with his vast skillset and overall activity but it’s also clear that his power has slightly diminished with each foray into a new weight class.
For now, Santa Cruz intends to remain at 130 but says that he is willing to go up to 135 to challenge Gervonta Davis.
Figueroa and Ceja Battle to Split Draw
Mexican veteran Julio Ceja gave Brandon Figueroa all that he could handle in their back-and-forth, fast-paced 12-round featherweight fight that ended in a split draw. The pair combined for an astonishing 2,811 punches according to CompuBox statistics.
The judges were evenly divided with one scoring it 116-112 for Ceja, and the other 115-113 for Figueroa. The deciding score fell upon Judge Don Trella, who scored it even 114-114 to solidify the split draw verdict.
Figueroa (20-0-1, 15 KOs) was helped by the fact that Ceja (32-4-1, 28 KOs) came in over the weight limit by 4 ½ pounds which made him ineligible to win Figueroa’s WBA super bantamweight strap. Thus, he would not have lost the title even if Ceja had beaten him.
Ceja may have exposed some of Figueroa’s defensive flaws as he was able to crack the 22-year old with several good left hooks but the champion took it well.
This was a good test for Figueroa against a hardened veteran and he appears to have passed it with flying colors.
Long Flattens Wilder
Marsellos Wilder (5-2, 2 KOs) lost in devastating fashion when he was hit flush on the chin by a big left hook from opponent Dustin Long (3-1-2, 3 KOs). Wilder, 30, the younger brother of Deontay Wilder, was dropped hard on his back. His head hit the canvas during the fall prompting referee Jay Nady to immediately halt the bout at 1:51 of the fourth round. .
Marsellos was a latecomer to the fight game much like his older sibling having turned pro in 2018. He was also blasted out back in January by another journeyman in William Deets. It’s hard to tell where Wilder goes from here after suffering a second bad knockout loss within the same calendar year.