Saturday night, Deontay Wilder resembled a cat playing with its food. Though he was seeking to defend his WBC heavyweight title for the tenth consecutive time, it was clear that Wilder was in no rush. For seven rounds, Wilder allowed Luis Ortiz to dictate the pace of the fight.
Wilder often circled left, to avoid the southpaw tactician’s powerful left hand. The champion threw pawing jabs – no malice – as if he was paid to spit bars over beats instead of trying to slobber knock opponents to sleep.
Meanwhile, his crafty Cuban opponent parried the weak jab attempts. Ortiz came forward, often with stiff double jabs. He threw hard left hands to Wilder’s body. The few times Wilder managed to throw any punches of substance, Ortiz utilized his excellent head movement to avoid the incoming punch and usually returned a swift counterpunch before deftly retreating out of range.
Beginning in the fifth round, Wilder started to throw punches with more authority. The champion was still very measured. His approach was far from the wild, free-swinging one we’ve become accustomed to throughout his career.
Still, even when Wilder decided to put some “oomph” behind punches, his opponent dodged or deflected them. For nearly seven rounds, Ortiz boxed a perfect fight.
Then came the thunder.
With less than 10 seconds remaining in the seventh round, Wilder feinted one of his pitty pat jabs. When Ortiz attempted to parry the punch with his right hand, the champion launched a monster straight right that detonated on the challenger’s face.
From the vantage point of the original camera angle, the punch didn’t seem all that dangerous. Subsequent camera angles showed the punch’s true devastation. As it landed, perspiration erupted from Ortiz’s face. As the beads of sweat soared through the air, Ortiz crumbled to the canvas.
The look on his face was a blend of disorient and disbelief. It’s likely a snapshot that will live forever in memedom.
Up to that moment, Ortiz was ahead on all three judges’ scorecards. In an instant, the dreams of avenging the only loss of his career vanished.
Ortiz valiantly attempted to beat the count, but his wobbly legs failed him. Referee Kenny Bayless counted Ortiz out.
With the loss, Ortiz fell to 31-2-0, with both losses coming at the heavy hands of Wilder. Meanwhile, “The Bronze Bomber” improved to 42-0-1 (41 KO).
According to Wilder, he was never concerned about the scorecards and knew that his fate would lie in the power of his now-legendary right hand.
“To be honest, I never worry about if I’m losing the fight or not,” Wilder stated during the post-fight press conference. “I’ve been blessed with something these other guys haven’t been blessed with, and that’s tremendous power.”
“These guys I’m fighting, they have to be perfect for 12 rounds,” he added. “But I only have to be perfect for two seconds.”
Speaking of seconds, Wilder’s next bout will be another rematch. The WBC champ will attempt to avenge the only blemish on his unbeaten record. He is set to face off against the lineal heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury. The two fighters battled to a disputed draw last December.
Like Ortiz, Fury out-boxed Wilder for much of the fight. However, Wilder’s power turned out to be the ultimate equalizer as he dropped Fury twice to even the score. Now, two of the best, biggest and boldest fighters in the world will do it again in February to help determine a true king of the heavyweight division.
In a shocking move that caught the boxing world off-guard, Floyd Mayweather Jr. announced on Instagram that he intends to come out of retirement in 2020. No date or potential opponents have been announced, but Mayweather did hint that he was working with UFC President Dana White on a “spectacular event.”
If he’s working with White, the most logical opponents would be either UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov or a rematch with former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion Conor McGregor.
Others speculate Mayweather’s return would be in hopes of securing another $100M deal against either Canelo Alvarez or Manny Pacquiao. Heck, even WBO welterweight champ Terence “Bud” Crawford is shooting his shot for a showdown with “Money” Mayweather via Twitter.
While a Mayweather vs Crawford fight (which is the least likely to happen) would certainly peak my interest, there’s zero chance of me forking over a $100 PPV fee to see Mayweather in the ring with anybody. If I want to see Mayweather school overmatched opponents in bouts for which I already know the outcome, I can just head on over to YouTube.
To be fair, repeated retirements are not exclusive to Mayweather. It seems that more than any sport, boxers just cannot seem to stay away from the ring. That is the reason Roy Jones Jr. and Bernard Hopkins are talking about staging a third fight despite both being over 50 years old.
Whether it is due to a need for attention, dire financial straits or simply boredom, it seems that it takes nearly every pro fighter a hand full of “retirements” before they get it right. Hopefully, Mayweather will call it quits “for real” before he starts looking like the old dude in the club ring, clutching at the long, lost memories of yesteryear.
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