WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (39-0; 38 KOs) finally received worldwide recognition in his 40th fight and third year as the green belt holder when he found a way to win against tricky Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz (28-1; 24 KOs) in Brooklyn on Saturday.
Alabama’s Wilder, 32, was down on the scorecards and had to grit his teeth to survive a seventh-round onslaught from the unbeaten Cuban.
The win now sets up the potential lineal unification clash against AJ providing he comes through his tough test against WBO champion Joseph Parker on the last day of March.
AJ is the biggest star on the planet and sells out stadiums in minutes; Wilder is the polar opposite, he struggles to fill the 18,000 capacity Brooklyn Center and only earns 10% what AJ does because of his lack of appeal.
He could easily walk through the streets of New York without being recognised, whereas you can’t escape Joshua’s face on newspapers, magazines and TV screens.
Boxing fans know “The Bronze Bomber” very well but to casual fans and those on the outside, they only recognise him from beating up infamous internet troll Charlie Zelenoff in a viral YouTube clip when he confronted him in his gym for racist remarks he made.
Both won world titles against weak champions – Wilder was taken the distance for the first and only time in his approaching 10-year career by Bermarne Stiverne who was dreadfully woeful in his first title defence, one judge scoring the contest 107-120; and Joshua beat “Prince Charles” Martin in the second-round for the IBF strap, also in his first defence of a title that he only won by default after Tyson Fury was unfairly made to vacate immediately after his win over Klitschko in Germany.
Their unassuming routes to ruling the world have since been backed up by some solid defences – Wilder’s frightening demolition job in his rematch with Stiverne, where he knocked him down three times without a single punch thrown back and had to be pulled away by the referee when he looked like a man possessed; and Joshua’s epic encounter with Wlad Klitschko at Wembley was similar to Wilder’s fight last night, where the scorecards were relatively even going into the championship rounds until the young lion found a way to win against the old master, taking him out in the penultimate round.
The fight told me something I didn’t already know about Wilder, in that he can grit his teeth when hurt and under duress, and find a way to come through the storm.
It also backed up what we already know about him, that his skills are lacking and that he is not the best boxer out there, but he can get of jail with his raw power and aggression.
He can be beaten because he has so many faults, but going the distance with him is obviously dangerous as he has proven he can end a fight when he wants to up the ante, like AJ did against Wlad.
He has proven he has durability and heart so anyone looking to take him out inside the distance will not find it easy.
So, despite his lack of technical ability and boxing skills, he is the hardest opponent in the heavyweights to beat.
I always favour the boxer over the puncher, so I would fancy AJ to win if they ever do finally meet.
I’d expect serious shots to be exchanged and it would likely be another scintillating, see-saw showing between two warriors that can go up a gear to take the other out. There’s no way it could go the distance, surely!
Hopefully, the pair can meet to decide who the best heavyweight on the planet is…and then the rightful king, “The Gypsy King”, can be ready to meet the winner and take back his belts they are all just looking after for him, because Fury beats both Wilder and Joshua!