Sometimes, winning isn’t all that matters.
Even in being the only pro boxer to have defeated Luis Ortiz to date, Deontay Wilder knows better than to believe the rematch will play out exactly as did its predecessor. Their March 2018 clash provided the unbeaten heavyweight titlist with his most anxious in-ring moments to the point, surviving a near disastrous 7th round to thrice drop and ultimately stop the Miami-based Cuban in 10 rounds. The win maintained his unblemished record, but also made for a valuable learning experience in just how far he still needs to improve.
“I didn’t throw enough jabs at him. I wish my feet where in better position as well,” Wilder (41-0-1, 40KOs) admitted during an open media workout Tuesday evening at his training facility in Northport, Alabama of what he needs to fix ahead of their upcoming rematch. “Just the little minor things. I thought I did very well under the condition of the fight and I’m looking forward to a tremendous fight this time as well.
“With Ortiz he’s a very smart fighter. He’s a counter puncher, he’s great at what he does. I can understand why I’m the only person in the Top 10, the Top 5 really, to give him the opportunity.”
The title fight rematch with Ortiz (31-1, 26KOs; 2NCs)—which headlines a Nov. 23 Fox Sports Pay-Per-View event from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada—will represent the 10th defense of the heavyweight title Wilder claimed in a Jan. 2015 points win over Bermane Stiverne.
While the fight was a lopsided affair, it marked the first time that the Tuscaloosa, Alabama native was forced to go the distance. Wilder managed to deliver a far more explosive performance in their Nov. 2017 rematch, scoring three knockdowns en route to a 1st round stoppage.
The defending titlist hopes to harness that same type of energy and improvement in his second go-round with Ortiz, who enters having won three straight following their first meeting.
“I’m looking to beat him in even more dramatic fashion,” promises Wilder. “When I fought Ortiz the first time, I had a terrible flu to the point where, even when I was walking down the tunnels, I was spitting up mucus. The proper protocol is to call the fight off, give your body time to heal, then give your fight camp up and then announce a new date for the fight.
“But you know, I’m always hardheaded. I’m the type of fighter who likes to be a myth buster in boxing. You can’t do this, you can’t do that. I like to prove people wrong. A lot of times we say things a boxer shouldn’t do, and I (have done) it. One day I’m gonna write a book and tell you all the things I have done in my career.”
Already the first and only to have defeated the Cuban southpaw, the hope for the rematch is to simply leave no doubt.
“One thing I can do—he said it himself, he’d rather have been stretched out,” notes Wilder, playfully twisting Ortiz’s insistence of wanting to continue when their first fight was stopped. “That’s what I’m planning to do, stretch him out, like he say.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox