Deontay Wilder was hurt in the seventh round, but stayed on his feet. He rebounded three rounds later to score a knockout of Luis Ortiz to retain his WBC heavyweight championship Saturday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Wilder ran his record to 40-0 with 39 knockouts, but it wasn't easy.
Ortiz (28-1, 24 KOs) was winning the fight, at least on most media scorecards, as they were entering the 10th round. Ortiz was attempted to become the first Cuban-born heavyweight world champion.
It was a series of wild punches that dropped Ortiz twice in the 10th.
Ortiz was the aggressor in the first round, but slipped in the second which was won by Wilder. The early rounds were uneventful until Wilder landed a pair of right hands sending Ortiz to the canvas in the fifth.
It was about the only aggression Wilder showed through the first six rounds and Ortiz landed a punch late in the seventh that wobbled Wilder, who was saved by the bell.
Wilder said despite being wobbled in the seventh, he never doubted himself.
Wilder, 32, was fighting at Barclays Center for the third time in his last five bouts as the Alabama native defended his title for the seventh time.
"King Kong ain't got nothing on me," Wilder said, referencing Ortiz's nickname. "A true champion always finds a way to come back.
"He put up a great fight and we knew I had to wear him down... It was an awesome fight and hats off to Luis Ortiz."
Wilder said he finally has the signature win he needed on his resume and his next fight is expected to be against the winner of the championship match between Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker.
"My goal is to unify," Wilder said. "They're in no rush to fight me because I am the baddest man on the planet."