This Saturday night from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, Deontay Wilder faces Luis Ortiz live on Showtime. This much talked about matchup features a combined record of 67 wins, 62 KO’s and 0 losses. Will Wilder’s brutal power punching be able to tame the highly-skilled Ortiz? Somebody’s ‘0’ has to go, with the winner lined up perfectly for the Anthony Joshua vs. Joseph Parker winner, presumably later this year.
Last fall the anticipation for a Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz hit a fever-pitch. That was of course until Ortiz failed a WBC/VADA drug test, causing Luis to be taken off the card. Facing a second drug offense, Ortiz’s big-fight future was in jeopardy. After an investigation done by the WBC, Ortiz was found not guilty. Whether you believe the blood pressure pills were in place to mask a PED or not, Ortiz still should’ve been disciplined much longer for failing to disclose on the paper work.
No fault of his own, Wilder made the best of a bad situation by devouring Bermane Stiverne via 1st round knockout. Instead of taking a stay-busy opponent, the ‘Bronze Bomber’ demanded a fight with Luis Ortiz. The ticket response was great, along with the fans on social media. Now the only thing left is fisticuffs.
Luis Ortiz made his mark as one of the most dangerous fighters in late 2015. The way he dismantled a competent heavyweight contender in Bryant Jennings was very impressive. Ortiz flashed some serious skills especially on the inside, ripping shots to the body and head, at the same time blocking punches with his gloves. Looking back now it’s difficult to judge Ortiz because of the separate failed PED tests.
Age is a key point that many have used to favor Deontay Wilder. As we know Cuban athletes face adversity having to defect from their homeland. In baseball some Cubans have lied about their age, thus helping their case in future negotiations. Hardly anyone in the media has pointed out the difference between baseball and boxing, or why Ortiz would lie about his age in the amateurs as well. Either way the Cuban native hasn’t taken much punishment as a pro, but surely the years of preparation for his 370+ amateur bouts take a toll.
Breaking this style matchup down leads to only a few outcomes for how it will play out this Saturday. This (hack) scribe believes three scenarios are possible. One is Wilder taking the lead behind his jab as he attempts to pressure Ortiz. Two, is a majority of this bout being fought in the center of the ring with the two combatants engaging in a skills fest. Three, would be Wilder using his feet to move laterally, pumping the jab repeatedly.
The first example would only work if Wilder hurts Ortiz. There is simply no reason for Wilder to take that risk unless he’s over jealous looking for a KO, or down late on the cards.
The second example would not be wise for Wilder, as was the case versus Artur Szpilka and Gerald Washington. Standing in the middle of the ring going tic-for-tat with a technician like Ortiz is a sure way to take his first ‘L’. However, I could see a few rounds going this way in the early parts as both men measure each other up.
The only clear path to victory, barring skewed scorecards, is option number three for Deontay. Much was unknown concerning Deontay heading into his first meeting against Stiverne. Whether it was chin issues or stamina, Stiverne stood as a measure stick for Wilder, who was an underdog on the betting books at the time.
I do understand that Wilder did manage to win by knockout in both of the mentioned opponents for option 2. Obviously, Szpilka ended violently, whereas Washington remained on his feet after the first knockdown, albeit wobbled. Either way Ortiz is miles ahead of those two boxers named, both amateur pedigree and skills eye test. That includes a non-PED version of Luis Ortiz.
Look for Ortiz to give Wilder plenty of issues to deal with not just early, but throughout the potential 12 rounds. The southpaw stance of Ortiz combined with timing and good reflexes will definitely serve as another measuring stick for Wilder. Even if Wilder uses subtle movement and sticks to his quick and hard jab, it won’t be as easy as the betting books claim. As it stand currently, Wilder is sizable favorite over Ortiz, ranging from a -150 all the way to -300 and beyond.
On paper this seems to be a true 50-50, but a non-PED Ortiz and the recent rumor circulating that Ortiz injured his hand, is more than enough for most media members to side with Wilder. Food for thought, yes Wilder is taller but Ortiz has the advantage in overall reach surprisingly.
For the most part, Wilder will use lateral movement, a hard jab, and flush right hands in effort to detonate on Ortiz. Ortiz will have plenty of rounds in which it appears he is getting off the better punches while using defense to limit Wilder’s power punching. If that’s the case, how long will Wilder remain patient and stick to his game plan?
Ortiz is a solid boxer who is comfortable in the center of the ring or on the move. Most of Ortiz’s effectiveness is taken away when forced to lead. Ortiz struggled to cut the ring off on Malik Scott, rendering his skills almost useless. Ortiz coming-forward gives a moving Wilder more angles and doesn’t allow Luis to time or set his feet to land meaningful shots.
Wilder would benefit greatly this Saturday night by keeping his wits about him, not getting overly emotional by personal items tied to this event. If Wilder does go headhunting early and often don’t be surprised to see Deontay badly hurt and/or knocked out.
Wilder in spots can rattle off combination as long as he pivots or takes steps to the side to avoid being counter repeatedly. If Wilder does play into the hands of Ortiz by standing in front for long periods of time, Ortiz will play with him.
Although this fight won’t have a ton of exchanges, it will be interesting to see the different game plans and adjustments made by both men. For some reason this podcaster doesn’t think Wilder will be content to lateral-movement Ortiz do death and at some point will push the pace. One thing to remember, while many of us thought Wilder was losing to Washington and Szpilka, the fact remains Wilder was winning on 4 of 6 cards (other 2 had it tied in Washington fight).
The sentiment that Ortiz won will resonate for weeks and even though Luis will have won say 7-8 rounds, Wilder will get the nod regardless. The only way for Ortiz to win the fight is by seriously hurting Wilder scoring a knockdown or by knockout.
My Official Prediction is Deontay Wilder by Split-Decision.
Side Note: The Co-Feature for Showtime is a can’t-miss rematch between Andre Dirrell and Jose Uzcategui. Also, don’t forget about the return of Sergey Kovalev and more importantly, the HBO Co-Feature Dmitry Bivol vs. Sullivan Barrera.
Written by Chris Carlson Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available on Apple Podcast (ITunes), Player.FM, Stitcher, Tunein, Spreaker, www.blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio & TheGruelingTruth.Net. Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio