Wilder v Ortiz: Can 'King Kong' capitalise on his second chance to take down WBC champion?

By Sports Desk November 23, 2019

Just a few more seconds. Perhaps one more huge, heavy left. That is how close Luis Ortiz must have felt to dethroning the self-publicising, heavy-hitting Deontay Wilder back in March 2018. 

The underdog appeared on the brink of an upset when he had the undefeated WBC champion stumbling and bumbling around the ring towards the end of the seventh round at the Barclays Center. Had he found a way to get the job done, the heavyweight landscape would have changed dramatically.  

However, Ortiz was unable to deliver the telling blow.

Having experienced what it was like to be on the other side of an onslaught for the first time in his career, Wilder survived, regained his composure and found a way to triumph. It was in the 10th that he showed Ortiz how to force a stoppage, dropping him twice to retain his title.

The pair get to do it all over again on Saturday, but it is hard to shake the thought that the southpaw missed his opportunity. If there was an element of surprise first time around in their Brooklyn brawl, that has now gone for the rematch.

Still, Ortiz demonstrated both his heart and talent just over 18 months ago. A decorated amateur, the southpaw is a skilled big man; he may look a little unathletic but does have a firm grasp on the boxing basics.

David Allen can vouch for that, having shared a ring when the Cuban turned up in England, primed with a promotional contract from Matchroom Boxing and a point to prove to a new audience. 

"You look at Deontay Wilder and he's a lumberjack. Then you look at me and think labourer, the kind of bloke who carries bricks around," Allen told Omnisport. 

"You look at Ortiz, however, and you'd say that man is a surgeon. He's clever, very clever. Although he's getting on and I think he's faded a bit, he's so clever."

King Kong was certainly precise when cutting through the defences of an under-prepared Allen, who got an early shock in their bout. 

"He hit me with a left uppercut in the second round and I genuinely lost consciousness for a second. My legs dipped and I thought, "What was that?'," he explained. "I started swinging at him, but I just remember my corner telling me to move. 

"His wasn't the kind of power that when he hit you on the arms and gloves you thought, 'Oh my God, he can punch'. But he was hitting me on the chin and a hell of a lot to the body. He was accurate.

"His jab was difficult for me to read because he's a southpaw – I struggle with them anyway. It's less of a jab and more of a paw, using it to judge the distance. His left hand is the dangerous one, but he does lean with a right hook to the body, too. As I said, he's the surgeon of the heavyweight division."

Ortiz demonstrated he can hit against Wilder, too, though the lumberjack - as Allen wonderfully described the American - refused to fall, despite a series of chopping hooks to the body before the bell sounded to end the seventh.

The challenger faded down the stretch but has seemingly prepared well for another crack at ending Wilder's unbeaten record, taking himself away from his family in Miami for a training camp in Las Vegas. The rewards were clear to see at the weigh-in on Friday, as he came in more than five pounds lighter than for the first bout. Even Wilder was impressed, admitting his rival "looked good" on the scales. 

Yet Ortiz is now 40. While he has only boxed 154 rounds as a pro, a long amateur career has put plenty of miles on the clock. Father Time catches up with most fighters eventually, though the ruthless Wilder may get there first.

Allen fears the worst for his former foe, adding: "I worry on Saturday night we may see a shot fighter in there.

"Even if physically he's not the man he once was, he's smart. He may give Wilder problems like he did in the first fight, where he had it all but won. With a different referee and if it wasn't a heavyweight title fight, they may have stopped that.

"But I'd be very surprised if he comes that close again. I think Wilder stops him in the early rounds, as I fear Ortiz has slowed down massively."

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