WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) was expected to have the toughest fight of his career on Saturday night, and he did.
Wilder was nearly stopped in the seventh round, but came back to score a knockout victory over Luis Ortiz (28-1, 24 KOs) in the tenth round, as over 14,000 fans at Brooklyn's Barclays Center exploded.
Wilder also had Ortiz down in the fifth, but the Cuban puncher recovered and had the champion ready to go in the seventh. It appeared that Wilder might be on the brink of defeat. But Wilder's right hand proved to be the equalizer in the tenth, as he rocked and then dropped Ortiz for a second time. Moments later, a huge uppercut sent Ortiz down and out.
Now Wilder wants the winner of the upcoming unification between IBF, IBO, WBA champion Anthony Joshua and WBO champion Joseph Parker, which takes place on March 31 at Principality in Cardiff, Wales.
Kevin Barry, the head trainer of Parker, was very impressed with Wilder's performance.
Barry saw similarities between Wilder's win over Ortiz and Joshua's previous knockout win over Wladimir Klitschko in April of 2017.
"It was a smart fight by Wilder, but I think that is a fight that Ortiz and his people will be looking at it today and asking why they didn't go harder in the eighth round. There are similarities between Wilder's performance against Ortiz and Joshua's performance against Klitschko," Barry told Trackside Radio.
"Both guys fighting very good opponents, both guys being hurt, coming back from some dark places and winning sensation performances. Wilder has set himself up as the guy to beat and he is now 40-0 which demands lots of respect. I've always thought he is the most dangerous puncher against the heavyweight group.
"He showed once again he can lose rounds, he can look unorthodox, he can look dangly but when he hits you with that right hand there is nobody in the 40 opponents he has put on the canvas."