If nothing else, Deontay Wilder proved Saturday he might be the most patient champion in boxing. Confident in his ability to end fights with one punch, Wilder did exactly that in Las Vegas, knocking out Luis Ortiz with his famous right hand to retain his WBC world heavyweight title.
Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KOs) did next to nothing for six rounds, letting Ortiz (31-2, 26 KOs) dictate a slow-burn of a rematch before seizing his opportunity in style. The straight right detonated high on Ortiz's face, sending the 40-year-old Cuban crashing to the canvas for a 10-count.
The Athletic's Mike Coppinger and boxing promoter Lou DiBella reacted to the knockout:
The win marks Wilder's 10th successful defense of his WBC title, which he won in 2015. The "Bronze Bomber" can turn his attention to another rematch, a highly anticipated superfight with Tyson Fury that is reportedly set for Feb. 22. The two fought to a thrilling draw in December 2018, the only time either fighter has left a boxing ring with a result other than a victory.
Wilder confirmed he's looking for a February rematch with Fury, per the Fox pay-per-view broadcast. He also said he wants to unify the boxing division, which means he could be looking at taking on the winner of the December rematch between Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua.
Ortiz was within a punch or two of knocking out Wilder in the seventh round of their first meeting, in 2018, but couldn't finish the job, allowing Wilder to rally and win with a 10th round stoppage. Intent on correcting his mistake, Ortiz came into this bout with a slimmer physique, hoping better stamina would help. He looked sharp, but it wasn't enough.
As in their first meeting, both fighters were wary of each other's power and content to feel things out before taking any big risks. Ortiz suffered a small gash on the edge of his hairline in the first round after a clash of heads, but it never became an issue. ESPN's Steve Kim felt it was the right strategy with Wilder's ability to end fights with one punch:
Wilder was woefully inactive, doing little more than sending out exploratory jabs to keep Ortiz at a distance. He was simply reacting to Ortiz's quick bursts of offense, seemingly content to wait for a chance to uncoil his lethal right hand. Through six rounds, Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix couldn't find much good to say about Wilder's effort:
Unlike most boxers, Wilder can afford to put forth a losing effort for 18 minutes. All he needs is an opportunity to uncork his right hand. TalkSport.com's Michael Benson summed it up perfectly with a quote from Wilder:
Indeed, every second Ortiz spent in range of Wilder's right hand, he was in danger, and Wilder slipped in the dagger as soon as he saw his opponent make a mistake. The 34-year-old Alabama native has 41 knockouts in 43 fights and has all but perfected a singular craft as a one-punch knockout artist.
Ortiz, for all his gifts, isn't capable of withstanding Wilder's devastating right hand. Fury, however, has already made one miraculous recovery from a trip to the canvas against Wilder. He's tall, slick and has a solid jab of his own. He may be the only boxer who can stay perfect for 12 rounds and survive Wilder. Boxing fans will hope they won't have to wait long to find out.