By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Deontay Wilder wasn’t worried referee David Fields would stop his fight against Luis Ortiz when Wilder was on the verge of getting knocked out in the seventh round.
Fields is generally regarded as one of boxing’s better referees and tends to let boxers fight, hold and/move their way out of trouble. That’s what happened after Ortiz buzzed Wilder with a right hook that connected with 43 seconds to go in the seventh round and tried his best to finish off the undefeated knockout artist.
The powerful Cuban southpaw drilled Wilder with two hard, straight left hands toward the end of the seventh round. The hard shots Ortiz landed left a stunned Wilder stumbling around the ring, right up until he was falling forward and Ortiz clipped him with another right hook just before the seventh round ended.
Fields, who also officiated the back-and-forth slugfest between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko, remained close to the action the entire time Wilder was in trouble. The veteran referee continuously evaluated Wilder as he reacted to Ortiz’s onslaught.
“Nah, I didn’t think the ref was gonna stop the fight,” Wilder said during the post-fight press conference. “When you’ve got a contender and a champion, you let the fight continue. You know what I’m saying? You let people get their money worth. I think the referee did a wonderful job [Saturday] night.”
By allowing Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) to continue, Fields afforded the unbeaten WBC champion the opportunity to get his legs back under him and pull off a dramatic comeback against the previously unbeaten Ortiz (28-1, 24 KOs, 2 NC).
The 6-feet-7 Wilder wobbled Ortiz with a right hand late in the ninth round. The Tuscaloosa, Alabama, native picked up where he left off in the 10th round, when he dropped Ortiz twice and won by technical knockout.
“I wasn’t hurt,” Wilder said regarding that tenuous seventh round. “I was in a whirlwind. I never thought Ortiz had power. I said that before. You know, he had me in that whirlwind and I was trying to get out of that tornado. You know what I mean? He put a lot of combinations together well.
“And I told Ortiz that he’s never been in a fight with a fighter like me – so confident, with a natural killer instinct, with a mindset like mines. You know, I control my mind. My mind is so strong. That’s what meditation comes from. It’s a powerful exercise, exercising your mind. Like I said, I’ve done fought him a hundred times in my mind, through meditation.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.