For a while, I like many of you have had lingering questions regarding the legitimacy of claims from Deontay Wilder as the divisions best, boastfulness that we have come to expect from the outspoken Alabama resident, Saturday night gave us some of the answers we sought, going a long way to certifying those claims as he put Luis Ortiz to the sword during a rollercoaster of a defence of his WBC title.
For the majority of his career, I don’t think it’s unfair of me to say, has been padded, a quick look at his record will find journeymen, bouncers and below par opposition, something you wouldn’t expect from a champion, maybe that’s the era in which we live I guess, but it was with excitement that finally after 39 contests we got a fight we could sink our teeth into and get excited about.
Luis Ortiz a figure in the heavyweight division long thought to be a danger to the higher echelons or at one point its ruler, he came into the fight unbeaten with a Cuban amateur background to fall back on, presenting the first real test to Wilders reign, proving the theory correct in his near toppling of the WBC King.
The moment which elated the Wilder detractors came in the seventh which went hand in hand with one of the questions we had, the one regarding Wilder’s chin, as we seen Wilder was rocked back on his heels previous against Molina but once more passed the test as Ortiz landed hard shots one after another which noticeably unbalanced the legs of Wilder but remained upright.
His style may not be to the liking of boxing’s purists but it has it’s desired effect, leaving every fighter he has ever faced on the canvas which was the case here, 15 and a half stone behind every looping shot was just too much in the end for Ortiz who succumbed to the velocity in the tenth.
The victory was enough for his fanbase to make the boldest of predictions, usually which circulated around the division’s other big star, Anthony Joshua.
I have to admit the contest wasn’t even favourable to the cause of Wilder beforehand but this win does give a pause to thought……..Okay now I’ve thought about it again, I still favour Joshua but perhaps not by the margin I originally predicted.
In other weekends action, Light Heavyweight Sergey Kovalev crushed his compatriot Igor Mikhalkin in seven rounds. Both are friends outside the ring but there was no love lost when the two stepped through the ropes, Kovalev relentless in his pursuit of Mikhalkin.
It was the type of performance we needed to see, putting to bed any kind of notion that his best days are far removed, we can now look forward to future matchups with the likes of Adonis Stevenson, Badou Jack, Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol all in the mix.
WBA Light Heavyweight Champion Dmitry Bivol also gave a resounding answer to his standing in the division with the annihilation of Sullivan Barrera. The Cuban proved a determined foe until he wasn’t, Bivol finding a home for his right hand to punctuate his presence in an already boiling pot of talent at Light Heavy.
Both of these fighters (Kovalev, Bivol) could have got the nod from another writer but personally, peaking Wilder’s ability to return from adversity to gain victory was enough for me to name him our Fighter of the Week.