LAS VEGAS—The boos never reached the ears of Jay Deas. If they did, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway to Deontay Wilder’s co-trainer. His fighter was sticking to the plan—no matter how ugly it looked.
The crowd of about ten thousand that filled the MGM Grand Garden Arena Saturday night was waiting for something to happen. The TV audience that watched the FOX pay-per-view was no doubt doing the same, as was the impatient media at ringside. Otherwise, it was Luis “King Kong” Ortiz landing a sporadic jab, mixed with an occasional power shot, and Wilder, the defending WBC heavyweight champion, doing nothing—or close to nothing.
Then, in a blink, chaos.
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Ortiz was on his back, and referee Kenny Bayless was counting over the stunned Cuban, who must have wondered how he had landed on the canvas.
“The Bronze Bomber” had landed a huge straight right, set up by a few pawing lefts and, in an instant, as Wilder promised, it was over at 2:51 of the seventh round.
The stoppage win was Wilder’s (42-0-1, 41 KOs) tenth consecutive WBC heavyweight title defense, while the forty-year-old Ortiz (31-2, 26 KOs) walked away with a measure of respect by maintaining his status as a formidable opponent in the heavyweight division.
Until the knockout, Ortiz had been dominating. He controlled the pace of the fight and was up on all three scorecards (Eric Cheek 58-56, Dave Moretti 59-55 and Steve Weisfeld 59-55) entering the seventh. What’s more, the three judges gave Wilder four rounds combined. Cheek gave Wilder the first, and all three gave Wilder the sixth.
Punch stats bear out Wilder’s steady progression—landing three punches in the first, two in the fourth, four in the fifth and sixth, and eleven in the seventh. The deceptive part is that Ortiz threw an average of 25.5 punches a round, while Wilder actually averaged 26.2 punches. Wilder threw more total punches (184) than Ortiz (179) and landed one less, 34 total shots to Ortiz’s 35. The difference that all in attendance saw was Ortiz’s willingness to load up on power shots (he out-landed Wilder 28-17).
But, according to Deas, that’s the way it was planned.
“The thing is, Ortiz is very, very good, [but] what we knew was he gets weaker as the fight goes, he loses his strength through the rounds; whereas, Deontay gets stronger,” said Deas, who co-trains Wilder with Mark Breland. “Remember the first fight—people were booing the first three rounds.
“The biggest disadvantage [would have been trading] big shots early with somebody while they’re at full strength. The idea was to let Ortiz lose some steam, and then trade our right for his left. Because Ortiz is always going to counter your right with his left. We wanted to make that trade.
“Trading against Ortiz early was a dumb idea. I didn’t care whether people were booing or not.”
Wilder himself admitted he didn’t care whether he was ahead on the scorecards. “I’m blessed with something these other guys aren’t blessed with, and that’s tremendous power,” Wilder said. “Most of the time, these guys are winning rounds against me, anyway. I know that when I hit guys, I know I hurt them. I know that sooner or later, it’s going to come and, when it comes—bang—it’s the end of the night.
“At this point in time, you have to give me my credit. It’s sad to say that it’s taken me over forty fights to get the recognition that I truly deserve because, when people see me, they see my style. It took them a while to get used to what I display and my talents. What I do is not textbook, because you can’t really teach it.
“At this point in time, I’ve earned my due respect and credit that I am the hardest-hitting puncher in boxing history. Period!”
Ortiz was visibly angry afterward. He felt Bayless was too quick with the count, and he once again got foiled by Wilder’s power.
“The game plan was to obviously back him up and get behind some combinations, and not look to hit the home run,” Ortiz said through his trainer and translator, Herman Caicedo. “I stayed close and stayed behind the jab and at angles. But, just as Wilder says, one second is all he needs.
“My only gripe, it’s a grudge match the ref could have let it go on. There were eight seconds left, seven seconds left. Let’s see what happens. I’m very upset that that didn’t happen.”
Ortiz admitted that he didn’t even see the Wilder knockout shot. “If I would have seen it, I would still be fighting,” he said. “I’m in shock and disappointed.”
Ortiz said he will continue fighting. And Wilder said his rematch with Tyson Fury on February 22, 2020, is still on the schedule.