Deontay Wilder gave Luis Ortiz a shot at the WBC heavyweight title at Barclays Center in November only to see the matchup get KO’d because of the Cuban challenger’s positive drug test. So the champ fought Bermane Stiverne instead and KO’d him in the first round.
But Ortiz received a second chance from Wilder. The undefeated power punchers took aim at each other Saturday night in the Barclays ring, and they were landing.
Ortiz, nicknamed “King Kong,” pummeled Wilder at times. Wilder’s chin seemed to be made out of steel because it was hard to figure how any mortal could remain standing. But he did, and then he knocked out Ortiz in the 10th round.
Wilder retains his WBC heavyweight championship and is now 40-0, 39 via the KO, including all seven challengers.
“King Kong ain’t got nothing on me!” Wilder said. “A true champion always finds a way to come back, and that’s what I did tonight. Luis Ortiz is definitely a crafty guy. He put up a great fight. We knew we had to wear him down. I showed everyone I can take a punch.”
Ortiz was trying to become the first Cuban heavyweight champ. He arrived at 28-0 with 24 KOs.
He had tested positive for banned diuretics, medications that he said were for treating high blood pressure, but medications that also have a rep as masking agents. But the WBC let him off with just a fine, finding that he didn’t reveal the meds on his paperwork prior to the test.
Wilder was seeking the best available fight, and the 32-year-old from Alabama indicated that he related to Ortiz, the 38-year-old father now living in Miami, because they both have a daughter with a serious health issue. He spoke about Ortiz having to support his family.
So here they were.
After nine rounds, Wilder led 85-84 on all three scorecards.
In the 10th, he threw a combination of punches to knock Ortiz down. He got up. But then Wilder finished him with a right uppercut. It was over with 55 seconds left in the round.
“I feel fine,” Ortiz said. “I did receive a right hand, but I’m OK. . . . In this sport, any punch can end a fight.”
There were 14,069 in the house, the second-largest crowd ever for boxing here, and the fans were booing during and after the third round over a lack of action.
But in the fifth, there was action. Wilder staggered Ortiz with a right to head and then knocked him down against the ropes with another right. Ortiz rose, and then came the bell.
Ortiz hit Wilder again and again with power shots to the head in the seventh. The crowd erupted again and again at the beating.
“He was hitting me with those furious punches, but they didn’t have sting on them,” Wilder said. “He was throwing combos that knocked me off balance. I just had to get my range back and my fundamentals back. And I was able to do that.”