Deontay Wilder defends his WBC world heavyweight title against Luis Ortiz on Saturday night in Las Vegas at the start of a huge fortnight in the division.
Anthony Joshua faces a rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr at the beginning of December and these two fights will have a massive bearing on the landscape of the best heavyweights in the world heading into 2020.
Bronze Bomber wants statement win ahead of Fury rematch
Wilder is due to face Tyson Fury in a rematch at the end of February and the unbeaten American needs to deal with Ortiz first at the MGM Grand to ensure this mouth-watering fight can take place.
The Bronze Bomber knows all about this weekend’s opponent though, after defeating Ortiz in an explosive brawl last year.
Wilder has an impressive professional record of 41 wins, with 40 of these coming inside the distance, alongside his controversial draw against Fury.
The 34-year-old is not the most technically accomplished heavyweight but his destructive one-punch power has decimated fighters throughout his career.
Alabama fighter Wilder stopped all of his opponents until facing Bermane Stiverne four years ago. He was taken the distance but Wilder ran out a dominant winner on points to become the first American heavyweight champion since 2006.
Successful title defences against Eric Molina, Johann Duhaupas, Artur Szpilka, Chris Arreola and Gerald Washington followed before a first-round demolition job in the 2017 rematch against Stiverne.
Wilder was given a major scare against Ortiz in their Brooklyn fight but came through for a tenth round knockout victory.
Last December’s enthralling contest against Fury produced a dramatic finale but the Gypsy King remarkably got up from the 12th round knockdown to secure a contentious draw in Los Angeles.
Wilder was last seen in the ring in May with the knockout king delivering a devastating first-round stoppage against Dominic Breazeale in New York.
Ortiz looking for knockout blow
Ortiz suffered his only defeat against Wilder and will be determined to exact revenge in Vegas this weekend.
The 40-year-old Cuban is coming towards the end of his career but there is no disputing his physical strength which represents a threat to the champion.
‘King Kong’ Ortiz has 31 wins as a professional, with all bar one by knockout, alongside his loss to Wilder.
The powerful southpaw was crowned interim WBA world heavyweight champion after wins against Matias Ariel Vidondo and Bryant Jennings in 2015.
Ortiz’s first attempt against Wilder came up short despite causing significant problems for the American, with a barrage of shots almost stopping the American in the seventh round.
After his sole defeat, Ortiz responded by overcoming Razvan Cojanu and Travis Kauffman via stoppage.
Ortiz’s only fight this year came in March with a one-sided unanimous points victory against German Christian Hammer in Brooklyn.
Wilder v Ortiz: The verdict
This may not be the rematch neutrals would have been hoping for, with Fury waiting in the wings, but a second fight between Wilder and Ortiz should still entertain if the first contest is anything to go by.
Their first meeting was a real slugfest and Wilder was in significant trouble midway through the fight. But his huge power came to the rescue in the tenth round.
The world champion knows his concussive hands can stop any opponent and he clearly has the beating of Ortiz again.
Wilder is as short as 1/6 to win this weekend with Ortiz 9/2 to pull off an upset. The fight is just 1/6 to finish inside the distance while the favourite is 1/3 to prevail by KO, TKO or disqualification.
The world champion should be too powerful again and Wilder will surely get the job done before the final bell, as he confidently announced in the pre-fight press conference.
Wilder knows Ortiz is dangerous, as he proved in the thrilling first fight, which suggests the American will not want to be reckless early on.
Expect his power and athleticism to take its toll on the older boxer as the fight progresses, with another stoppage in the second half of the title bout generously priced at 5/2.