American WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder survived a seventh round scare against Cuban Luis Ortiz, before bouncing back to claim a tenth round knock-out victory, in his seventh title defence at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn.
It was the Bronze Bomber’s toughest test to date, and the win sets up a potential undisputed mega-fight with the winner of Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker, who meet in Cardiff on 31 March 2108.
Wilder moved to 40-0 (39 KOs) following his successful defence and answered much of the criticism that he has received: he can come back from adversity, he can beat a top quality opponent, and once he has a chance to finish, there is no escaping his brutal onslaught.
Yet, a host of new questions have surfaced, as a result of his underwhelming performance for much of the fight. ‘King Kong’ took the centre of the ring for the opening five rounds and controlled much of the action, with Wilder using his left hand as a disguise – rather than a purposeful jab – to land his big right hand.
That right hand was never too far away from landing and had Ortiz down by the end of the fifth, which also served to silence the crowd which were booing due to the overall lack of engagement between the two undefeated heavyweights.
A slugfest ensued in the sixth, but it was the seventh round by the Cuban that had Wilder hanging on to his title by a thread, as ‘King Kong’ teed off on the champion but was somehow unable to end the fight.
Still staggering at the beginning of the eighth, the referee called time to have the Bronze Bomber checked in his corner. Those extra seconds proved to be vital, as Wilder went into survival mode, to get his energy back. Ortiz also looked spent, after throwing all his big shots.
Once the champion got his second wind though, the end was inevitable. Wilder caught Ortiz and stalked him around the ring, dropping him twice in the tenth, before the referee intervened to stop the fight.
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