He might have looked like the favorite going into his fight with Luis Ortiz, but through six rounds a couple of nights ago, WBC heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder was in trouble.
Ortiz was outboxing him. Easily. He was even smiling. Smiling against a guy who knocked him into dreamland last year. A guy who had knocked out 41 guys in 42 fights. Wilder hadn’t done much of anything. He’d shoot out a jab that mostly missed. His left hook landed on the in-shape body of the 40-something Ortiz. But not often enough.
He posed and prodded, his stance too wide, his lands too low. Nothing was bothering Ortiz. He was a man on his way to winning the heavyweight championship of the world. Or so he, and many watching, thought. But Wilder has a secret. He carries with him the ultimate equalizer.
Had Ortiz forgotten about Wilder’s howitzer? Unlikely, but he was boxing so nice. Just like he was taught in Cuba. Work the jab, two quick steps, in, fire the left, get out. Clever and powerful. Smooth.
The rangy Wilder, all of six-foot-seven, needs room to swing. Lots of room. Ortiz wasn’t giving him much. And when he did, he’d move slightly, or dodge. It was scientific. It was sweet, but it wouldn’t be enough.
Though losing, there was no panic from Wilder. This was an extremely important bout. He’s scheduled to fight a rematch with Tyson Fury early next year. Millions will be riding on the outcome.
Many thought (this writer included) that Fury bested him the first time around. The mammoth Londoner is a freak of nature. A giant heavyweight who moves like a middleweight. His elusiveness is his best friend. Wilder didn’t hit him often last December, but when he did, especially in the last round, Fury went down like he’d been shot.
The fight was judged a draw-hence the sequel in a few months. But it’s that knockdown most everyone talks about.
During the Ortiz fight, the broadcasters theorized that pressure was getting to Wilder. Didn’t look like it to me. He was calm, like he knows something. What does he know?
That he can end a fight with one punch.
And so it was in round seven against Ortiz. Wilder started to unleash a little. Ortiz should have been wary. Heck! He’d already banked at least six rounds. But he chose to engage.
Wilder went downstairs. Ortiz countered. The fight was on. He was beating Wilder to the punch. Until he wasn’t. Wilder, the illogical assassin, threw out three harmless jabs. He was lining up Ortiz for the right hand kill shot. Ortiz never saw it. The shot was straight and pure. And very powerful.
It crashed off Ortiz’s chin with a thud, collapsing his legs. His body followed, leaving him prone on the canvas-his head propped up against the bottom rope. Wilder casually walked away.
Now he was the one smiling.
Ortiz tried to get up, but his legs wouldn’t cooperate. The brain and the limbs weren’t on the same page. Referee Kenny Bayless waved the bout off just as Ortiz finally stood, his eyes glassy.
Wilder made his way to his corner, standing on the ropes with arms raised.
Power can make up for flaws in the bat of an eye.
Source: John J. Raspanti