Deontay Wilder was in a giving mood and Luis Ortiz became the willing recipient. Twenty months after Wilder retained his World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight title with a 10th-round technical knockout victory, Luis Ortiz vs Deontay Wilder 2 will take place Saturday night in Las Vegas. Wilder will face Ortiz in a bout that headlines a pay-per-view telecast at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Luis Ortiz vs Deontay Wilder, Saturday at 9 p.m. ET (Fox Sports PPV)
“I’m super excited to be able bless Ortiz again, to be able to support his family,” Wilder said. “This might be the last big pay-day that he gets. Nobody knows. But we’re going to make the best of it. You’re going to get your money’s worth.”
Although not the Wilder rematch that tops the wish list of many fans, Wilder-Ortiz 2 is not a far dropoff.
Wilder is a heavy favorite at bet365 at -700 as of Thursday morning. He’s at -300 to win by KO,TKO or DQ and +550 for a victory by decision. Ortiz is +450 on the moneyline, +600 for the KO/TKO/DQ and +1600 by decision. A draw is set at +2800.
In their first bout, Wilder dropped Ortiz in the fifth round, only to absorb a late seventh-round barrage from Ortiz. The minute’s rest before the eighth round enabled Wilder to recover from Ortiz’s shots and eventually stopped him three rounds later.
The preferred rematch remains Wilder and Tyson Fury, following their dramatic 12-round draw last December. Fury out-boxed Wilder for most of the fight but Wilder salvaged his belt with two knockdowns.
Demand for a rematch intensified, and according to multiple reports during the summer, there was an agreement that the second fight would occur early next year. Yet, no further discussions were held, and Wilder opted for Ortiz.
Fury won a hard-fought decision against Otto Wallin on Sept. 14. In the time frame between his bout against Fury and Saturday’s rematch with Ortiz, Wilder also scored his 16th career first-round knockout victory, stopping Dominic Breazeale on May 18.
Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs) considers Ortiz, 40, a more difficult opponent than Fury and praises the challenger’s skills that were honed during an amateur career which exceeded 300 amateur bouts in his native Cuba.
Luis Ortiz vs Deontay Wilder odds: Moneyline – Wilder (-700), Ortiz (+450)
“The first time I met him in the ring it was an amazing experience to be able to go up against such a skillful fighter,” Wilder said. “To have his pedigree and background that he had as an amateur, I’ve only had 35 amateur bouts coming into the professional rankings. It was an honor to face him more than it was an honor for him to face me.
“This was a test to show me where my skill level was in the heavyweight division.”
The rematch with Ortiz will be Wilder’s 10th defense of the championship he won in January 2015, when he scored a unanimous decision against Bermane Stiverne. Wilder fought a rematch with Stiverne two years later and knocked him out in one round.
“Now I have an opportunity to have another bond with this man that no one wants to face,” Wilder said of Ortiz.
“The sky’s the limit as to my growth. Each and every year I want to be better. I’m the type of fighter that you’re going to sit on the edge of your seat or you’re going to stand up the whole time because that’s the excitement I bring. Like I did the first time I’m going to bring it the second time.”
Ortiz, who moved to Miami after defecting from Cuba 10 years ago, remained busy after the first fight, scoring knockout victories over Razvan Cojanu and Travis Kauffman and winning a lopsided decision over Christian Hammer. The near miss against Wilder in the first bout solidified Ortiz’s claim for a rematch.
Luis Ortiz vs Deontay Wilder odds: Will the fight go the distance? Yes (+400), No (-600)
“There is no excuse about the first one, Deontay won the fight,” Ortiz said. “This time will be different. I will be more aggressive.”
Ortiz (31-1, 26 KOs) made a noteworthy adjustment in preparations for the rematch. Accustomed to training in Miami, Ortiz switched camps to Las Vegas, where he was been training since September.
“I wouldn’t be here in Las Vegas if I wasn’t serious about being all-in for this fight,” Ortiz said. “I would have stayed home in Miami. I haven’t seen my family in months and that’s worse than any Deontay Wilder punch.
“If anything is going to change in this fight, it’s going to be Wilder making adjustments, if he can. I’m in 15-round shape and he’s going to have to deal with me for every round.”
Ortiz doesn’t dwell on the seconds following the seventh round that perhaps prevented him from becoming world champion in the first fight. Yet Ortiz uses the experience as a learning lesson for the rematch.
“If I get that opportunity like I got in the last fight, I’m not going to stop punching until it’s over,” Ortiz said. “I’m going to seek and destroy.”
The rematch with Wilder will provide Ortiz another opportunity at becoming the first Cuban fighter to win a heavyweight title. Countrymen Odlanier Solis and Jorge Luis Gonzalez also were unsuccessful in their title fights against Vitali Klitschko and Riddick Bowe, respectively.
“I’m very proud to be Cuban and I’ve been around some of the great Cuban fighters of all time,” Ortiz said. “It’s going to be very exciting to become the first Cuban heavyweight champion.”