Deontay Wilder didn't need to throw himself into the fire against Luis Ortiz. But that’s just what the current WBC heavyweight champion will do. On Nov. 4 at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, Wilder will go head-to-head against Ortiz live on Showtime Boxing.
The Tuscaloosa, Ala., native could have defended his heavyweight title by squaring up against mandatory challenger Bermane Stiverne—again.
Been there, done that.
Wilder beat Stiverne by unanimous decision on Jan. 17, 2015 to earn the WBC title. It stands as the only fight in his career to go the distance. Wilder has successfully defended his belt five times since, all against fighters whom critics said were never true challengers to Wilder’s championship. This time, power meets power.
Wilder isn't shying away from Ortiz (27-0, 23 KO’s), a proven beast within the weight class. On Wednesday afternoon at a pre-fight press conference in New York City, Wilder—dressed in a thin black and gold robe draped down to his knees and gold aviator-style sunglasses—said he’s going to “whoop his a--.”
“It’s gonna be a fight that ain’t definitely gonna go the distance,” Wilder said. “I’m thinking about three rounds. And come that night, it might be in the first round.”
The 31-year-old Wilder (38-0, 37 KOs) is not bluffing when he says that he wants to “unify the heavyweight division.” To be the best, you've got to beat the best. Among the heavyweights, Luis Ortiz represents Wilder’s toughest competition, according to fight promoter Lou DiBella.
“‘King Kong’ Ortiz has been like the boogeyman of the division,” DiBella said. “Everyone has known that this is the toughest guy out there to fight. You haven’t heard [Anthony] Joshua screaming, ‘I want to fight Luis Ortiz.’ You haven’t heard anyone screaming, ‘I want to fight Luis Ortiz.’”
Wilder is now. He said he respects Ortiz’s accolades—he owns a 343-19 amateur record and is a boxing legend in his home nation of Cuba—but wasn't ready to concur with DiBella’s argument.
“Ain’t nobody better than me. Ain’t nobody tougher, nobody stronger—physically and mentally and spiritually,” Wilder said. “They’re running from me. They’re all scared of me. I’m the only heavyweight in the division with one-[punch] knockout power. I’ve shown you that over, and over, and over again.”
Ortiz, 38, participated in the press conference via telephone, listening in to Wilder’s warnings. His flight from Miami was canceled amid concerns that Tropical Storm Jose would affect the NYC area.
Ortiz, too, said that he respects his competitor’s workload over the years. The two have combined for 60 knockouts, and Wilder’s knockout percentage of 97.4 is the best of all time among boxers with at least 25 pro fights.
Per Ortiz’s manager and translator Jay Jiminez, Ortiz expects that number to worsen to 94.9.
“He does feel that Wilder’s not going to come out and knock nobody out in the first round or the third round,” Jimenez said on behalf of Ortiz. “He feels that Wilder’s going to be doing a lot of running and that he should be careful about what he says about knocking somebody out because he’s (Wilder) going to do a lot of running and embarrass himself.”
Ortiz continued, per Jimenez: “This time, he f----- up.”
Wilder expects his percentage to stay put.
“I ain’t scared of nobody,” Wilder said. “I wasn’t raised that way. I wasn’t raised to run from nobody. I was raised to look you in the face and demand respect. And when I put a threat on you, I let you know it’s signed, sealed and delivered.”
If Wilder is to remain true to his word and defend his title, then a bout next year with current IBO, WBA and IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua is in order. Joshua (19-0, 19 KO’s) is set to defend his titles against Kubrat Pulev (25-1, 13 KO’s) the week before Wilder vs. Ortiz.
Wilder said he expects an easy win for Joshua, just as he envisions the same for himself. If that happens, then the world has yet another undefeated heavyweight unification bout to look forward to in the coming months.
“That’s what the world wants,” Wilder said. “If he finishes Pulez, which I think he will, and I get finished with Ortiz, the people are going to be screaming for it. There isn’t nothing I really need to do. The people will speak for themselves.
“I don’t think they’ll want us to fight anybody else. We won’t get credit for anyone else but me and him once all of this is over.”