Wilder vs Ortiz: Unnecessary risk for WBC champ?
WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (39-0, 38 KO) is tentatively scheduled to face Luis Ortiz (28-0, 24 KO) on March 3 at Barclays Center, the boxing hotbed in Brooklyn, New York.
Wilder, of course, is one of several top heavyweights in-line for lucrative superfights in 2018 and/or 2019 as fans expect WBA/IBF champion Anthony Joshua, lineal champ Tyson Fury, WBO belt holder Joseph Parker and Deontay to face another - or several others - at some point.
Although Wilder isn't mainstream in the US, he's certainly built tremendous momentum and generated a lot of intrigue among fight fans. And yes, Wilder vs Joshua would be a mainstream affair.
So, if you're in Team Wilder's position, you usually don't face a threat like Ortiz until you absolutely, positively have to. It's at this point where a fighter's manager looks for a relatively safe opponent; someone less likely to spoil his fighter's impending superfight.
... So why is Team Wilder looking to fight Luis Ortiz?
Perhaps they are THAT confident in Deontay because Ortiz certainly has all of the tools to become a spoiler and would be a threat to any heavyweight.
A veteran of a reported 362 amateur fights, Ortiz sported a 343-19 pre-professional career record, learning his craft from Cuba's top trainers. And yes, he's 38 but might as well be 28 because he turned pro in 2010 and has had only 29 pro fights.
Ranked No. 4 in the world in the heavyweight division by BoxRec, the 6'4" Cuban floored tough and durable Tony Thompson (then 40-7, 23 KO) three times with well-timed overhand lefts, winning a sixth-round TKO in March 2015.
His performance was so impressive, HBO's Max Kellerman labeled Ortiz the 'best heavyweight in the world.'
Yes, Wilder vs Ortiz is one of the best match-ups in boxing, but...
Wilder vs Ortiz intrigues because Luis might be on the same level as Wilder, Joshua and an in-shape Tyson Fury. In fact, he could be better than those guys.
Hardcore fans love this showdown because Ortiz is also unbeaten and would be Wilder's biggest test to date. Simply put, Wilder vs Ortiz is one of most significant, most intriguing heavyweight showdowns over the last ten years.
Problem: But the risk posed for Team Wilder appears to far exceed the reward.
Deontay's purse won't be significantly higher than his best purse to date and a win over Ortiz won't super-size his stock value the same way Joshua became a European celebrity after defeating fight legend Wladimir Klitschko.
Credit to Wilder for wanting to face the best opponent available but that guy won't bring him much fame and fortune, yet may have Wilder seeing stars.
Luis Ortiz can be bad news. He's big, strong and mean. And did we mention he's a southpaw too?
Offensively, he may be the closest thing to a young George Foreman since... George Foreman. He's a sharp ring technician with fine punching power and boasts an excellent sense of range and timing.
Should Wilder face Ortiz next, the former will deserve a lot of credit. And if Wilder losses, his handlers will deserve a fair share of blame.