By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Lou DiBella believes Deontay Wilder has been unfairly vilified during his 2½-year championship reign.
People seem to forget, DiBella says, that Wilder was about to board a plane to Moscow when he found out that the WBC canceled his mandatory title fight against former WBA heavyweight champion Alexander Povetkin in May 2016. Povetkin’s positive PED test ruined what was supposed to be the most important test of Wilder’s career.
The hard-hitting Tuscaloosa, Alabama, native fought Chris Arreloa two months later just to stay busy, but suffered arm and hand injuries in that July 2016 fight that required surgeries. Wilder came back against Gerald Washington, according to DiBella, because they didn’t want Wilder to test out his surgically repaired right biceps and right hand against an elite heavyweight.
That brings us to the unbeaten WBC champion’s showdown with Luis Ortiz (27-0, 23 KOs, 2 NC), which Wilder demanded over a mandatory fight against Bermane Stiverne. Wilder (38-0, 37 KOs) already beat Stiverne convincingly in the only 12-round fight of his career in January 2015, and saw no need to face Stiverne again.
The 31-year-old Wilder was so adamantly against a rematch with Stiverne, he told adviser Al Haymon to do whatever was necessary to make Stiverne step aside and allow him to oppose Ortiz on November 4 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 KOs) reportedly was paid six figures to step aside. The Haitian-born, Quebec-based contender instead will face California’s Dominic Breazeale (18-1, 16 KOs) on the Wilder-Ortiz undercard.
“Give him credit now,” DiBella said during a press conference Wednesday in Manhattan. “Give him credit now. How many guys do this? This is throwback stuff, man. When I said before this is Jake LaMotta-like stuff, this is throwback stuff. Who leaves money on the table? Who pays money to fight someone harder? And no offense to Luis Ortiz, he ain’t exactly a giant draw. I mean, most of his career was in Cuba. You know, a great fighter and he deserves this opportunity because he’s a great fighter. And [Wilder is] giving it to him because he’s a great fighter. But this doesn’t happen often. This is some crazy sh*t that this guy’s doing here.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.