By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Deontay Wilder wants even his harshest critics to be fair.
Now that what is expected to be the most difficult fight of his career is official, the unbeaten WBC heavyweight champion doesn’t want to hear any excuses. The last thing Wilder wants to hear is that Luis Ortiz is old, not nearly the threat he once was, as they head toward a November 4 fight at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“A lot of people didn’t think it was gonna happen for some apparent reason,” Wilder said Wednesday following a press conference in Manhattan to officially announce their fight. “But it’s happening. I wanted people to know. I wanted people to take me serious. I’ve found that a lot of people are fans of mine and they support me.
“They just wanna see certain fights and stuff like that, which I understand that. But, you know, once I do what I say I’m gonna do, man, what’s next? I don’t want people to jump ship. ‘Well, he was old,’ or this and that. Nah, because you’ve got some people before this fight was made, [they said] Ortiz was the biggest, baddest man in the world. But now this fight is made, they already making excuses. And I just don’t want that.”
The Cuban-born Ortiz is listed at 38 years old, though speculation persists that the longtime amateur standout is actually older than that. However old Ortiz is, the powerful southpaw figures to be the best opponent Wilder has faced since he turned pro nearly nine years ago.
Wilder, who’ll turn 32 on October 22, has knocked out all but one of his professional opponents, yet has drawn criticism for facing a low level of opposition since he beat Bermane Stiverne by unanimous decision to win the WBC title in January 2015. After out-pointing Haiti’s Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 KOs), the hard-hitting Wilder has knocked out or stopped Eric Molina, Johann Duhaupas, Artur Szpilka, Chris Arreola and Gerald Washington in his five title defenses.
Jay Deas, Wilder’s co-trainer and co-manager, expects a victory over Ortiz (27-0, 23 KOs, 2 NC) in a main event Showtime will televise to earn Wilder (38-0, 37 KOs) the credit they seek for the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, native.
“I actually think he’ll get a lot of credit,” Deas told BoxingScene.com. “You’re always gonna have haters and you’re always gonna have people that are gonna find something. ‘Oh, well this guy did this and this guy was that.’ You could do that with anybody. I could go through Mayweather, I could go through Muhammad Ali. Anybody you name, I could go through and pick apart opponents if I wanted to. But the truth is the truth. And the truth is this is a tremendous fight. A lot of people see it as a 50-50 fight, or maybe even Deontay as a slight favorite or a slight underdog. So when you look at that, I think he’ll get the credit he’s due by reasonable people.
“I think you’ll always have some nut jobs out there. Deontay, before he fought Stiverne, all I ever heard was, ‘What’s gonna happen when he has to go rounds? What’s gonna happen when he goes to rounds six or seven or eight? He’s never done it.’ But just because he hasn’t done it doesn’t mean he couldn’t do it. So all that criticism went away after that fight and never came back. I expect that criticism of level of opposition will go away after this fight.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.