Deontay Wilder will defend his WBC heavyweight championship against Luis Ortiz on November 23, 2019, at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The bout will be a rematch of the March 3, 2018 bout between these two hard-hitting heavyweights. In their first encounter, Wilder was badly hurt in the 7th round before coming back to stop Ortiz in the 10th round to retain his heavyweight title. After that bout, Wilder drew with Tyson Fury and knocked out Dominic Breazeale to remain the WBC heavyweight king. Ortiz earned this rematch with knockout wins over Razvan Cojanu and Travis Kauffman plus a decision win over Christian Hammer.
Deontay Wilder is the first American heavyweight boxing champion since Shannon Briggs in 2004. The Bronze Bomber won the WBC heavyweight title by defeating Bermane Stiverne in 2015. He has since defended the belt successfully nine straight times and will be looking for his 10th win in 11 world title fights.
Wilder is arguably the sport’s most powerful puncher. The Bronze Bomber has a record of 41-0-1 with 40 knockouts. Wilder stands 6-7 with a reach of 83 inches and is an orthodox fighter. This 34-year old from Alabama is also a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist and a two-time winner of the PBC Knockout of the Year. Wilder has dropped every opponent he has faced and has recorded 20 first-round knockouts.
The Bronze Bomber is heavily criticized for his poor technique, bad footwork, and wild punches. However, his powerful right hand is more than an equalizer to all those. Wilder needs only one punch to change a fight. He is an aggressive finisher and as he proved in his first bout with Ortiz, he can take a punch and survive heavy damage.
Luis Ortiz is a former interim WBA heavyweight champion. This 40-year old silver medalist at the 2005 Boxing World Cup is known as King Kong for being a monster inside the boxing ring. He challenged Wilder for the WBC belt in 2018 and nearly finished Wilder in the 7th round of the bout. He lost that bout via 10th round TKO.
Ortiz is also a powerful puncher. He has a record of 31-1-0-2 with 26 knockouts. Since his loss to Wilder, Ortiz has won three straight fights, two by stoppage. He stands 6-4 with a reach of 78 inches and is a southpaw. King Kong owns wins over Bryant Jennings, Tony Thompson, Malik Scott, and Travis Kauffman. In his last bout, he won a decision over Christian Hammer.
Unlike Wilder, Ortiz is a very technically sound heavyweight. Although he has impressive punching power, he doesn’t look for the one-punch knockout. He works well behind his jab and does a good job working the body. He also has good head movement and slips punches nicely. King Kong also has a good defense and you rarely see him get hurt from punches. The first fight with Wilder was an exception as Ortiz got drilled and rocked by the Bronze Bomber.
Ortiz is a year older and while he looks rock-solid in his recent photos, there are questions on whether he is still the same fighter he was one and a half years ago. King Kong was able to hang around for 10 rounds against Wilder in their first bout and he almost knocked out Wilder in the 7th. However, Wilder is such a special puncher because he can end the fight early like he did against Breazeale or he can knock down a top heavyweight like Tyson Fury late in the 12th round. I mean Wilder is a wild boxer who can be hit because he lacks the basics but that right hand of his is there for 12 rounds. Wilder also showed durability when he was able to survive Ortiz’s flurry. On the other hand, Ortiz couldn’t stand Wilder’s power. Who could, anyway?
It would be a terrific Cinderella story if Ortiz can finish the job this time around. But that is unlikely. Both men are a year older and I think that will take more toll on Ortiz than Wilder. If Ortiz has lost a step or two, he won’t be able to get away from Wilder’s long and hard shots. I expect the same ending here, only that it happens quicker this time around. Give me the Bronze Bomber.
Prediction: Deontay Wilder
Leo Santa Cruz fights for the WBA (Super) super featherweight title. Santa Cruz is a multiple-time world champion who has won belts in three different weight classes. He is known for his incredible volume and aggressive offensive style. Known as El Terremoto, the 31-year old from Michoacan, Mexico has a record of 36-1-1 with 19 wins by knockout. Santa Cruz stands 5-7 ½ with a reach of 69 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance. He owns wins over the likes of Carl Frampton, Abner Mares, Christian Mijares, and Eric Morel. Santa Cruz has been notorious for cherry-picking his fights and Miguel Flores is no exception.
Miguel Flores turned pro when he was 17 years old. Originally from Mexico, the 27-year old fights out of Houston, Texas. Flores won his first 22 bouts before losing back to back fights to Dat Nguyen and Chris Avalos who are nowhere near Leo Santa Cruz’s level. Flores has a record of 24-2 with 12 knockouts. He stands 5-8 tall with a reach of 69 inches and also fights from the orthodox stance. This will be Flores’ first-ever world title fight.
Flores has the potential and his body work looks nice this early in his career. But Leo Santa Cruz has too much experience and class here. El Terremoto has the smarts, defensive skills, and offensive volume to outpoint Flores. I think Flores is good but at this stage of his career, he is still too inexperienced and too raw for Leo Santa Cruz. I don’t this these fighters are in the same class right now and this is another cherry-picking from Santa Cruz. This one should be a boxing clinic.
Prediction: Leo Santa Cruz
Undefeated Brandon Figueroa is one of PBC’s rising stars. The 22-year old from Weslaco, Texas won the interim WBA super bantamweight title by stopping Yonfrez Parejo last April. He knocked out Javier Nicolas Chacon last August to retain the belt and was promoted to full champion status. Figueroa has a record of 20-0 with 15 knockouts. He stands 5-9 with a reach of 72 inches and is an orthodox fighter.
Mexico’s Julio Ceja is a former WBC super bantamweight champion. He won the belt by knocking out Hugo Ruiz in August 2015 but lost the belt to Ruiz via the first-round knockout six months later in a rematch. In his last bout, Ceja suffered another KO loss to Guillermo Rigondaux. The 26-year old is listed as 5-6 tall with a reach of 63 ½ inches and fights out of the orthodox stance. Ceja’s record is 32-4 with 28 knockouts.
Ceja is listed as three inches shorter than Figueroa and has a huge 8.5-inch reach disadvantage so there is no question that he will want to fight on the inside and make this a phone booth affair against Figueroa. If he doesn’t get close enough, this is going to be a one-sided affair. If he forces a slugfest, he could get dropped with Figueroa himself possessing knockout power but that’s his biggest shot at winning this. The odds aren’t good though.
Prediction: Brandon Figueroa
Luis Nery is the former WBC bantamweight champion and Ring bantamweight champion. He won the belts by knocking out Shinsuke Yamanaka in 2017 but was stripped of the titles after failing a drug test. The 24-year old from Tijuana, Mexico is undefeated at 30-0 with 24 knockouts. He stands 5-5 with a reach of 66 inches and fights out of the southpaw stance. Nery is coming off back to back knockout wins over former world champions McJoe Arroyo and Juan Carlos Payano.
Emmanuel Rodriguez won the IBF bantamweight title by outpointing British fighter Paul Butler in 2018. Rodriguez participated in the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament where he lost to Naoya Inoue in the semi-finals. Rodriguez has a record of 19-1 with 12 knockouts. The 27-year old Puerto Rico native stands 5-6 with a reach of 66 ½ inches. This will only be Rodriguez’s sixth bout outside his home country.
Despite getting knocked out by Naoya Inoue, Rodriguez remains one of the top fighters at 118. However, Nery is the clear cut boxing betting favorite here and for a reason. If Nery enters this fight in good shape and the right focus, I think he is going to catch Rodriguez late in the fight. Rodriguez is a good fighter but not only is Nery better but he packs more power in his punches.
Prediction: Luis Nery
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