Wilder awaits Ortiz in title bout with eyes on Joshua
By BARRY WILNER, AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Deontay Wilder has big plans. They don’t particularly include Luis Ortiz, against whom Wilder defends his WBC heavyweight title on Saturday night.
Wilder is looking at a matchup with fellow champion Anthony Joshua — as soon as possible.
That’s not necessarily a wise move, looking beyond an opponent. Wilder shrugs and lets out a hefty laugh.
“There’s no factor that will be difficult,” Wilder says of the matchup on Showtime at Barclays Center. “He does some good things as boxing fundamental skills. All Cuban boxers have it, they teach that. They put their combinations together well.
“Ortiz has got nothing, but maybe it goes three rounds. No, maybe he has four good rounds in him. I am going to finish with him in devastating fashion, send a message to Joshua. Tell Joshua he got to do what he got to do, but he should be worried about me.”
Wilder’s last defense was a joke. Ortiz dropped out of the bout when he tested positive for performance enhancers, and Bermane Stiverne stepped in. That lasted less than a round.
The fact Wilder even had to bother with the out-of-shape Stiverne was an annoyance to the Alabama star, who barely worked up a sweat in improving to 39-0 with 38 knockouts; Stiverne in 2015 went the distance.
“He broke my heart the first time when my manager called me and told me about (Ortiz) failing a drug test, failing for PEDS for a second time,” Wilder says. “I was so hyped and prepared for that fight and when I heard that, my heart dropped.
“He’s a second-time user, I hate to bring it up, but it’s fact. … I am 39-0 and it would be easy to pass. He’s blessed with this opportunity, he should be kissing my feet.”
The 38-year-old Ortiz, 28-0 with 24 KOs, has no intention of doing that, nor does he plan to be intimidated against Wilder. Ortiz, who has held the interim WBA title, is deferential only in his usual approach to a fight.
“I never say anything bad about fighters because inside the ring, anything can happen. I respect everyone who steps into the ring,” he says. “This is my opportunity. This is my time. Deontay is a great champion, but this is my chance.
“Like I always say, this is my time and it’s going to be a great triumph. This is big for all of Cuban boxing and I will make my country proud.
“This is going to be like two trains on the same track about to collide. I’m going to win and I’m going to take his belt.”
It would be a huge upset if Ortiz does so. And it would send a jolt through the heavyweight division.
A Wilder-Joshua fight is pretty much in everyone’s sights. Joshua puts his WBA and IBF crowns on the line on March 31 in Cardiff, Wales, against WBO champion Joseph Parker. Just like Wilder, Joshua is expected to take care of business, then address the business of a unification bout, which might not come before 2019.
That prospect riles Wilder.
“Last time, he went first and then I knocked out Stiverne,” Wilder says. “I showed him I can do it better. I’ll take the lead with this fight against a better opponent, then put the pressure on him.
“I’ll go anywhere in the world for the (Joshua) fight. We can go to Mars and put on a great show.”
The show in Brooklyn lost a bit of its luster when Jermall Charlo’s WBC middleweight title matchup with Hugo Centeno Jr. was pushed back to April after Centeno hurt his ribs. Regardless, Wilder promises fans won’t be disappointed.
“The exciting thing about Saturday night is for everyone to see what I’m capable of doing,” Wilder says. “Luis Ortiz is determined to get my WBC belt. This is my seventh defense of my title and I’ve enjoyed every one. It’s a lot of responsibility and I take it seriously. You’ll all see on Saturday night why I’ve said the things I’ve said.
“Everyone knows what I’m expecting Saturday night. I can’t say it enough. I have knocked every opponent out for a reason. I plan on continuing my knockout streak. That’s what I do and that’s what I’m best at.”