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Always That Punchers’ Chance…Wilder Starts Slow, Comes On To Smash Down Ortiz

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MONDAY UPDATE: The dust has fallen to the floor and the result from Saturday night is now more lucid. Deontay Wilder proved his chin and heart are in sync, that he can summon something extra when drowning and find that life preserver, so that he might fight on and find a home for his game changer right, which makes him dangerous for every second of every round, to any heavyweight.

Here are some number put out by CompuBox for you to chew on:

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The fight started out poorly, with little action, and continued that way for a spell. But when it heated up, oh mercy did it; Deontay Wilder didn't have his A game on Saturday evening at Barclays Center, as the southpaw style of Luis Ortiz had the Alabama Slamma looking tentative early on. But what Wilder possesses is game changer power in his right hand and yes, that is what spoke loudest at the end of the night, which came in round ten for Luis Ortiz.

No, it was no across the board classic for either man, and especially the favored Wilder; but  he showed two things…One, he showed that when his chin gets checked, as Ortiz did in round seven, he can collect himself and soldier on. And he also showed yet again, that he can turn a fight around in half the blink of an eye. His right hand discombobulated the 38 year old Cuban, who went down twice in the tenth, and the second time the ref saw all he needed to see, and pulled the plug.

At the time of the stoppage in Brooklyn, three judges saw the 32 year old, who has a payday tango against Anthony Joshua in the offing, if all goes to plan for his brain trust and crew, ahead 85-84. Yes, advisor Shelly Finkel and promoter Lou Dibella and others invested in the Wilder story had to feel hard palpitations when “King Kong” put his paws on Wilder, and buzzed him bad. But Ortiz wasn’t able to go full throttle, finish the affair, and he allowed Deontay to get his senses, stay in the fight, and unleash the nasty right a bit later.

Wilder scored a knockdown in the fifth, his wakeup round. Before, he'd been pawing, listless, not jabbing hard, not throwing much at all. Then, scary stuff in the seventh, when the hearts of Team Wilder dropped to their guts. Ortiz buzzed him bigtime, and likely Wilder was saved by the bell. He was a man drowning to end the seventh. But the heart, he showed what some needed to see. He stayed in the scrap and waited his time. The tenth, he landed those clubbing rights, and a right uppercut. I had it 4-4-1, after nine…

There was squawking after on social, with people seeing the cards as silly. But Wilder went 98-346, to 87-363 for Ortiz, and Ortiz had a 63 to 60 edge in power punches landed.

All in all, mixed reviews, to a point, for Wilder. People who didn't dig him will still see negatives. Backers will point to his ample power and that chin he showed can get checked but not wrecked. Seems like a majority sees Anthony Joshua as a clear favorite against the southerner, who still comes off as gawky and unrefined, even at 40-0. But oh, that power, he does indeed hold that consummate punchers’ chance.

Here are quotes from the winner and the loser:
DEONTAY WILDER

“It was a great fight. I had to earn this win. I knew Ortiz would be a great opponent with the skill set that he has. I wanted to prove to myself and to the world that I am the best.

“This is a fight I took with great risk so that I could prove to the world that I'm the best. We each put on a great performance and I think the fans were happy they were here. I always give the fans in Brooklyn a great fight.

“I wanted to burn him out. When you get a southpaw you know it's going to take a little time. I didn't want to rush in. I tried to set him up and it took a little longer than I wanted, but a true champion knows how to adjust.”

“'King Kong' ain’t got nothing on me!

“A true champion always finds a way to come back and that’s what I did tonight. Luis Ortiz is definitely a crafty guy. He put up a great fight. We knew we had to wear him down. I showed everyone I can take a punch.

“When he leaves tonight Ortiz can hold his head high. He gave the fans a hell of a fight.

“He was hitting me with those furious punches but they didn’t have sting on them. He was throwing combos that knocked me off balance. I just had to get my range back and my fundamentals back. And I was able to do that. I showed I was a true champion tonight.

“I just showed that I can punch on the inside as well, too. A lot of people don’t think I can punch on the inside, but I showed them. Now I can say there’s no man that stepped in the ring that I haven’t put on their ass.

“Luis Ortiz was one of those fighters that everyone ducked, even champions ducked him. I wondered why it took so long for him to get a title shot and now we know.

“I’m ready right now. I always said that I want to unify. I’m ready whenever those guys are. I am the baddest man on the planet and I proved that tonight. this solidified my position at the top of the food chain tonight.”

LUIS ORTIZ

“It was a great fight and I performed well. I thought I was up on the scorecard going in to the (tenth) round, but it’s heavyweight boxing and you never know what’s going to happen.

“I almost had him and I think I would’ve if there were a few more seconds in the round.

“I thought I was going to get a rhythm earlier. I thought I was winning the fight. This is heavyweight boxing and he caught me with a great shot. He's a great champion.

“Wilder was definitely saved by the bell. I thought I had him out on his feet. But you have to give him credit, he weathered the storm.

“I just want to get back in the ring, hopefully earn a rematch and fight for one of the other titles.”

“I feel fine. I did receive a right hand, but I’m OK.

“I was listening to the directions that my corner was giving me. In this sport, any punch can end a fight.

“In the ring anything can happen.”

Here is the release which went out after the fights:

BROOKLYN (March 4, 2018) – Undefeated heavyweight world champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder retained his WBC title in his seventh defense with a tenth round knockout over unbeaten challenger Luis “The Real King Kong” Ortiz in a thrilling back-and-forth SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING main event Saturday night from Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING®.

Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) not only survived the toughest test of his career but also finished the job in spectacular fashion by unleashing a ferocious 10th round assault on Ortiz (28-1, 24 KOs). Wilder floored the Cuban challenger twice in the round, forcing referee David Fields to stop the fight at 2:05 of the round. Watch the knockout video HERE.

Oritz looked like he would dethrone Wilder in the seventh round, countering with a strong right hand that hurt the WBC heavyweight champion. Ortiz unleashed a barrage of punches against a stunned Wilder, who somehow managed to stay on his feet to close the round before being saved by the bell. Ortiz continued his assault on Wilder into the eighth round, who again managed to make it through the round.

In the ninth round, Wilder began to rebound as he knocked Ortiz off-balance with a straight right hand. America’s only reigning heavyweight champion was firmly back in the fight as he landed a strong combination on Ortiz to close the round, completely changing the momentum of the fight.

Both fighters came out strong at the start of the tenth round, landing simultaneous blows that made each fighter temporarily wobbly. But it was Wilder who capitalized on the moment, as the Alabama-native pounced on Ortiz, sending his opponent to the canvas for the second time of the night with a flurry of overhand right hands. A dazed Ortiz returned to his feet, but was unable to withstand a follow-up assault from a confident Wilder, who landed an uppercut that sent Ortiz to the canvas for the third and final time.

Following his third successful title defense at Barclays Center, an emotional Wilder spoke to SHOWTIME Sports reporter Jim Gray about the most difficult fight of his career.

“A true champion always finds a way to come back and that’s what I did tonight,” said Wilder. “Luis Ortiz is definitely a crafty guy. He put up a great fight. We knew we had to wear him down. I showed everyone I can take a punch.

“He was hitting me with those furious punches but they didn’t have sting on them. He was throwing combos that knocked me off balance. I just had to get my range back and my fundamentals back. And I was able to do that. I showed I was a true champion tonight.”

A proud but disappointed Ortiz, who was on the brink of a sensational seventh round stoppage of Wilder before the bell rang, also spoke to Gray following the fight.

“It was a great fight and I performed well,” Ortiz said. “I thought I was up on the scorecard going into the tenth round, but it’s heavyweight boxing and you never know what’s going to happen.

“I almost had him and I think I would’ve if there were a few more seconds in the round.”

Wilder out landed Ortiz 98-87, although Ortiz held a slight advantage in landed power punches, 63-60.

In the co-featured event of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING, Jose Uzcategui (27-2, 23 KOs) defeated Andre Dirrell (26-3, 16 KOs) via TKO two seconds into round nine, upon the request of Dirrell’s trainer, Virgil Hunter. The win, which makes Uzcategui the interim IBF Super Middleweight World Champion, puts the hard-hitting Venezuelan in position to fight for the super middleweight title that Caleb Truax earned via a majority decision over James DeGale in December.

Saturday night’s fight was a rematch of the hotly contested May 2017 bout, in which Uzcategui was disqualified for landing a punch after the bell sounded to end the eighth round. In the rematch, Uzcategui dominated the action from start to finish, using his powerful right hand to set the stage for the withering assault which led to Dirrell’s corner stopping the fight two seconds into round nine. Uzcategui out landed Dirrell 169-141 in total punches, including a huge 112-51 discrepancy in power punches landed.

“I was a little surprised they stopped it in the ninth,” said Uzcategui. “I had said it would be the third round that I would knock him out. It took a little longer, but it finally came.

“I think it was very clear in the first fight that I did my job. In the second fight I showed even more, so there’s going to be a lot of Uzcategui from now on.”

Dirrell, a native of Flint, Michigan, found Uzcategui’s length and aggression difficult to deal with.

“I've been in there with long fighters before, but he was especially long,” said Dirrell. “I think I was a little heavier than I wanted to be tonight, but that's no excuse. Uzcategui did a great job.

“We knew we needed a knockout. The way it was going I needed to at least pick it up. I felt a little sluggish and he hit all the right shots. None of them really hurt, but he hit me where he was supposed to.”

In a world title fight featured on the undercard, Long Island's Alicia Napoleon (9-1, 5 KOs) won the Vacant Women's WBA Super Middleweight world title with a dominant unanimous decision victory over Femke Hermans (6-1, 3 KOs).

“It's hard to find words to describe this right now,” said Napoleon. “It's so surreal it's almost like a dream. I'm just glad I did it. This is one down, but there's many more to go. The goal is to get all the belts.”

Napoleon controlled the action with her power and superior athletic prowess and wobbled Hermans in the final round before earning the decision by scores of 99-91 and 98-92 twice.

“I think this means a lot for women's boxing, not just that I won the belt, but where I was placed on this great card,” said Napoleon. “People are going to continue to see and hear more and more from women boxers.”

Saturday’s telecast will replay on, Sunday, March 4 at 8 a.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME and Monday, March 5 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME EXTREME and will be available on SHOWTIME ON DEMAND® and SHOWTIME ANYTIME®. This event was sponsored by Corona Extra, La Cerveza Mas Fina and promoted by DiBella Entertainment and TGB Promotions.

Editor/publisher Michael Woods got addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the thought to be impregnable Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist Woods has covered the sport since then, for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN New York, RING, and he was editor of TheSweetScience.com from 2007-2015. Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and for Facebook Fightnight Live since 2017. He now does work for PROBOX TV, the first truly global boxing network.