Pair of undefeated heavyweights who are a combined 67-0 with 62 knockouts, have opportunity to prove who is the superior force in the division when they meet tomorrow night in Brooklyn, New York.
Deontay Wilder has a seemingly infinite number of detractors or "haters" as they've come to be known in the social media era. Wilder faces his stiffest test in unbeaten Cuban contender Luis Ortiz at Barclays Center in Brooklyn tomorrow night (Watch Live on Showtime at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT). Will a victory be enough to silence his critics?
Wilder and Ortiz were set to meet last November before Ortiz tested positive for diuretics, cancelling the fight. Ortiz didn't deny the substances being in his system, saying they are part of the medication he takes for high blood pressure. The WBC cancelled the fight to investigate and eventually re-instated Ortiz and placed him back in its ranking. Wilder decided to “bless’’ Ortiz with another shot four months later.
It's a significant fight for both men. They have a combined 67-0 with 62 knockouts, but the general consensus is neither guy has faced a top heavyweight. In a lot of people's eyes, they will both be seeing their first real test when they step into the ring against each other on Saturday night.
To the critics, Wilder (39-0, 38 knockouts) is considered a hype job. A lot of people hold it against the 32-year-old Olympic bronze medalist that his early pro fights were televised when he was a totally raw fighter who lacked a true boxing pedigree. With a scant amateur record of 30-5, Wilder's early pro fights were basically an extended amateur career as he sharpened his skills.
Despite the ease in which he's blown through opposition, Wilder is still criticized. He knocked out a clearly out-of-shape Bermane Stiverne in one round of a rematch last year — a fight that replaced the Ortiz match on Nov. 4. Stiverne was the only fighter who had gone the distance with Wilder. He took a 12-round beating when Wilder won a unanimous decision and the world title in 2015. Wilder's one-two combination is one of the most devastating in the business, and should be a major weapon against Ortiz.
"Ortiz has got that reputation of being the bogeyman but I’ve never been scared of the bogeyman," Wilder said. "For that reason, I wanted him. A lot of people have been avoiding him even champions that are champions to this day have avoided Luis Ortiz. But this champion right here took on the opportunity."
“ Ortiz has got that reputation of being the bogeyman but I’ve never been scared of the bogeyman. ” Heavyweight World Champion Deontay Wilder
The 38-year-old Ortiz (28-0, 24 KOs) has a 2015 TKO of the once well-regarded Bryant Jennings on his ledger and little else. He had just one professional fight before he reached his thirties and can't afford to waste any more time, which makes this matchup that much more important to the Cuban. A devastating loss and he will take a deep dive in the rankings, although the heavyweight division is the one weight class where guys march on into their forties.
More importantly, there has never been a Cuban heavyweight champion and Ortiz could make history.
"This fight is not only important for my family, but for Cuban boxing history," said Ortiz. "My only focus right now is on the strategy I will need to defeat Wilder, but I know this fight has a lot of significance. I'm going to make history for myself and my country when I knock out Wilder on March 3."
Ortiz is regarded as the much better boxer, but how much will that matter once he tastes Wilder's power? What will his conditioning be like, with just three fights in 22 months and being 38 years old?
There are a ton of question marks, which is a lot of what makes this matchup so salivating. Wilder has designs on getting to 50-0 and conquering the heavyweight division, which would certainly be enough to garner consideration as a future Hall of Famer. No heavyweight that has done what he hopes to do has been kept out of Canastota. Luis Ortiz hopes to wreck those plans Saturday.
For a closer look at Wilder vs Ortiz, visit our fight page.