Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz: Is The Fix In?

By Paul Magno on September 22, 2017
Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz: Is The Fix In?
“The Bronze Bomber” has been fighting DOWN to the level of his opposition. (Vasha Hunt)

Maybe this is all on the level. Fighting the Cuban craftsman could be a play by Team Wilder at turning back the tide of negative public opinion…

Upon hearing that Deontay Wilder had signed on to face Luis Ortiz this coming November 4, the immediate reaction was: “Why?”

Jumping into the ring against the low-reward/high-risk Cuban certainly doesn’t make sense from Wilder’s side of the deal. And it’s absolutely not in keeping with the career path already established by the heavy-handed WBC heavyweight champ.

Wilder has been fighting second and third-tier opposition ever since defeating Bermane Stiverne for the belt in January of 2015 and, frankly, hasn’t shown much shame in feasting on those soft touches. When a fighter is five defenses into a world title reign and his high-water mark opponent is a brain-scrambled and battle-weary Chris Arreola, one can assume that there’s not a whole lot of professional pride behind career decisions. If anything, “The Bronze Bomber” has been fighting DOWN to the level of his opposition.

So, that’s why the announcement of a bout with Luis Ortiz generates nothing but question marks.

From Chris Arreola and Gerald Washington to Luis Ortiz? Huh? That’s a little like going from a go-cart track to the Indy 500.

And it’s not like the world was clamoring for Wilder to face Ortiz, either. To be honest, the boxing world had pretty much given up on Wilder. Nobody has been expecting much of anything from Wilder these days.

But beating Ortiz WOULD be the perfect way for Wilder to earn some instant boxing “street cred” and, thereby, strengthen bargaining power in negotiations for a mega-blockbuster heavyweight showdown with fast-rising superstar Anthony Joshua. If Team Wilder’s eyes are on the UK’s Joshua, a decisive win over someone like Ortiz is the quickest one-fight road to the world forgiving and forgetting all past matchmaking transgressions.

Realistically, Ortiz is one of the few fighters out there capable of paving the way for a Wilder career absolution before a move forward towards Joshua. At some point, Alexander Povetkin was that fighter who could absolve Deontay of old sins, but a bout with the Russian—in Russia—was a risky proposition. It was so risky that Wilder and his people did not hesitate one bit in heading back home and crossing the Russian off their “to do” list after some issues with the fight’s doping tests popped up. 

Ortiz may or may not be a tougher task than Povetkin, competitively, but the logistics in making an Ortiz fight are infinitely simpler. Both fighters are under contract with adviser Al Haymon and, from the lack of public acrimony during discussions, there seems to have been little trouble in negotiating the terms of the deal. The smooth sailing and easy negotiations are refreshing in a way, but they’re also a bit troubling.

The boxing cynic may have many reasons to feel that all this Wilder-Ortiz stuff is just a bit too good to be true.

Fans who have been around the boxing block a few times and have seen “interesting” stuff go on throughout Wilder’s career will have some reasonable doubts when it comes to fully accepting this match-up as an actual, competitive fight and not a well-constructed set-up. Why take on someone like Ortiz when a lucrative Joshua bout is so well within reach—unless everyone is surer than sure that Ortiz will lose? Then—and only then—would Wilder vs. Ortiz make sense from the “A-Side’s” perspective.

It wouldn’t be the wildest thing in the world to assume that a much-avoided 38-year-old contender—not guaranteed of getting Joshua or any other big ticket fight any time soon—might be willing to play fall guy for the right deal and proper future considerations. If anyone falls into the category of a candidate for paid patsy consideration, it would be Ortiz, who might actually be doing his career a service by losing and/or looking less than what he really is.

Mind you, this talk of Wilder-Ortiz being anything less than on the level, is pure conjecture. But it WOULD answer the questions of “Why Ortiz?” and “Why now?”

But maybe this is all on the level. Fighting the Cuban craftsman could be a play by Team Wilder at turning back the tide of negative public opinion. Maybe it’s a way of showing the world that, not only is Deontay for real, but that he’s now ready to turn a career corner on November 4, en route to nothing but big fights and compelling challenges from there on out.

If that’s the case, then, awesome. The world looks forward to Deontay Wilder slinging fists at the best of the best.

But boxing is what it is and the shrewd, die-hard fans have learned how things usually work.

When it comes to Wilder vs. Ortiz, boxing will hope for the very best…but it would be wise to also prepare for the worst and most cynical.

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  1. Anonymous 12:21pm, 09/22/2017

    Dumb and cynical title

  2. Timothy Agoglia Carey 05:08am, 09/22/2017

    Survey says….“the worst and most cynical”!

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