WBC Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and highly regarded Cuban puncher Luis Ortiz have agreed to a showdown for Wilder’s title this November at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The fight will not only pit two of the biggest punches in the division against each other, but serves as a critical match for each fighter at this stage of their careers.
Wilder became the first American Heavyweight champion in over a decade when he outpointed Bermane Stiverne in 2015, a cumulation of one of the most pathetic and padded runs to a title regardless of any division. Often fighting well below his level, Wilder showed signs of life against Stiverne, but almost immediately went back to the status quo and only marginally increased his level of opposition to the annoyance of the boxing public.
Any momentum Wilder had as a premier Heavyweight was all but extinguished when Anthony Joshua won the first of his titles last year and unified them in an instant classic with Wladimir Klitschko last Spring. Behind the scenes chatter suggested that Wilder, fully aware of the criticism of his poor opposition, pushed to make the Ortiz fight despite owing a mandatory rematch to Stiverne.
Ortiz is a man running out of time. Nearing the age of 40 and clearly slowing down after a series of terrible performances last year, Ortiz has been inactive since taking a tune-up fight last December under then promoter Eddie Hearn in hopes that he could land a fight with Joshua. With Joshua’s mandatory situation not ensuring Ortiz a title shot for at least another year, the Cuban signed with Al Haymon and has immediately been put in what could very well be his only chance to win a title.
Wilder/Ortiz has already become a divisive topic amongst the boxing populace. Many fans believe that Wilder’s strength, youth and awkwardness should be enough to pass the biggest test of his career, while many insiders and media types are slightly leaning towards Ortiz. It is a compelling match that only furthers the evolution of the Heavyweight division and is a clash that can’t be missed.