Big-punching, heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder will return to action this weekend to defend his WBC world title against old opponent Luis Ortiz at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The pair have met before, with Wilder having to overcome severe adversity to reclaim his title. Whether Ortiz will be able to seriously trouble the world title holder again remains up for debate, making this heavyweight rematch all the more intriguing.
What did the first fight tell us?
In the first fight between the pair back in March 2018, Wilder retained his title with a 10th round knockout of Ortiz. In what was an exceptional back-and-forth fight, it was the first time both fighters had stepped up in competition to world-class when analysing their records against previous opposition.
Wilder conveyed his usual unorthodox, ungainly-looking style early on, and Ortiz was doing well in the early exchanges, hurting the American badly in the 7th round, but he couldn’t quite find the telling blow to seriously hurt the 34-year-old. Eventually Ortiz's gas tank emptied, and Wilder pounced on the opportunity to end the fight.
According to the CompuBox statistics, Wilder had a 33-6 edge in total punches landed in the last two rounds which demonstrates a case of the younger, fresher man, eventually grinding down his older opponent. 18 of Wilder’s 60 landed power punches (30%) were in the tenth round, whilst the American landed 55.8% of his power punches in the last two rounds – and only 5 of Wilder’s 98 landed punches were body shots.
Since the last fight, both fighters are unbeaten, although Wilder has certainly boxed the better competition. The American (41-0-1, 40 knockouts) battled to a (controversial) draw against top-level heavyweight Tyson Fury in December last year, before devastatingly knocking out challenger Dominic Breazeale inside a round. Ortiz (31-1, 26 KOs), has notched up three straight wins against lower-level opposition in Razvan Cojanu, Travis Kauffman and Christian Hammer, so the form guide certainly sits with Wilder in the rematch.
How dangerous is Ortiz in the rematch?
Ortiz gave Wilder a big scare in their first bout, but Wilder (surprisingly to some) showed great survival instincts and overcame the Ortiz onslaught to stay in the fight and deliver a devastating knockout in the 10th round.
Bitcoin bettors who observed the first fight now know what Ortiz brings to the table, and with the Cuban not looking like an improved fighter since the pair last met, there’s a good chance Wilder is getting Ortiz at just the right time. In boxing, timing can mean everything, and with Ortiz now 40 years-old, coming off the back of a subpar performance against Christian Hammer, Wilder, and his team, will have sensed this.
Outside of stopping Ortiz devastatingly, winning this fight will not do much for Wilder’s profile, so the probability is higher this time around that the WBC champion will start the fight looking to end the argument as quickly and decisively as possible.
Ortiz, however, is a very good Southpaw, and Wilder cannot allow the Cuban to find any kind of rhythm in the fight. At 40 years old, this is potentially Ortiz’s last chance to become champion and fight at the top-level in the sport, so he will be hungry to win and prove his worth.
With the amount of revenue at stake for future heavyweight fights involving Deontay Wilder against Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, and potentially Andy Ruiz Jr, bitcoin bettors can expect the officials to certainly be more lenient towards Wilder than they will Ortiz - especially if the Cuban does manage to land another big shot on Wilder and trigger another onslaught.
We already witnessed this in the first fight, when the ringside doctor was called over to check on a shaken Wilder at the start of round 8 for upwards of 20 seconds instead of checking him during the break - giving the American 1 minute and 20 secs to recover overall. If the same levels of leniency are afforded to Wilder in the rematch, they could have an important impact on the overall result - making it an important factor for bettors to consider.
Who will win the fight?
Deontay Wilder is currently entering his peak as a heavyweight whilst Ortiz is entering the twilight years of his career, and this is a key difference in this rematch. Wilder has tightened up his defence and slightly altered his stance since the first fight, and this has concealed any hints of vulnerability that he previously carried. Providing he is fully focused and not looking too far past Ortiz to the Tyson Fury rematch, then the Bronze Bomber should end this contest by knockout in less time than it took in the first fight.
And if the astonishing one-punch knockout of Dominic Breazeale in his previous fight is anything to go by, Wilder will be looking to make a statement in the heavyweight division once again.