By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Deontay Wilder is plenty confident he’ll knock out Luis Ortiz again.
The WBC heavyweight champion realizes, though, that this is far from the easiest path toward another rematch with Tyson Fury. Ortiz is 40 – older, according to some skeptics – but the powerful southpaw still has lost only to Wilder.
“Luis Ortiz is a dangerous fighter,” Wilder told BoxingScene.com on Saturday night at Barclays Center. “That’s why a lot of these guys at the top don’t wanna fight him. So, he has no choice but to fight a lower caliber of fighters.”
In his three appearances since Wilder knocked him out 17 months ago, Ortiz has knocked out Razvan Cojanu and Travis Kauffman and beaten Christian Hammer by unanimous decision in their 10-rounder.
Ortiz was offered what would’ve been a career-high $7 million purse to challenge Anthony Joshua on June 1 at Madison Square Garden. His handlers turned down that chance to replace Jarrell Miller on short notice because they had been assured a rematch with Wilder would take place later this year.
The 33-year-old Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs), of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Ortiz (31-1, 26 KOs, 2 NC) are expected to square off in a Showtime Pay-Per-View main event November 9.
“We’re getting close,” Wilder said regarding negotiations to finalize that deal. “We’re narrowing it down to a couple things. It should be announced very soon. It’s just the very small, minor stuff. Everyone is gonna be pleased when it happens. It’s gonna be a special fight.”
Wilder withstood some trouble late in the seventh round to knock out Ortiz in the 10th round of their March 2018 fight at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The hard-hitting Wilder dropped Ortiz once in the fifth round and twice in the 10th round before their fight was stopped.
“Ortiz, you know, when I look at the landscape of things and I’ve been observing how other fighters, they talk about him in a negative way, as far as his age,” Wilder said. “But none of them wanna get in there and test him. We’ve seen in this sport many times that age is only but a number. That keeps proving itself over and over again. Look at Bernard [Hopkins]. Look at Manny [Pacquiao]. I never would’ve thought he would’ve come out with a performance like that, with a Keith Thurman.
“So, age ain’t nothing but a number. It takes a certain caliber of fighter to get another fighter up. And everybody gets up for Deontay Wilder, because they know it’s not a regular fight. Your life really is on the line each and every time with me. I make that loud and clear to those that are listening. So, you have to get up for me.”
If Wilder overcomes Ortiz again, he’ll fight Fury a second time at some point early in 2020. England’s Fury (28-0-1, 20 KOs) must defeat Sweden’s Otto Wallin (20-0, 13 KOs, 1 NC) on September 14 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (ESPN+) to secure his spot in that rematch with Wilder.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.