LAS VEGAS — Heavyweight world titleholder Deontay Wilder and challenger Luis “King Kong” Ortiz may differ on who they believe will win their rematch, but one thing they did agree on when they met on Wednesday for the final prefight news conference inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena was how the fight will end.
In a knockout.
“With our fight, you already know what to expect,” said Wilder, who will be making his 10th title defense when he fights Ortiz on Saturday (Fox PPV, 9 p.m. ET) inside the arena. “This fight will not go the distance, so get your popcorn, go get your pizza, go to the bathroom. Make sure you’re by somebody who’s not going to disturb you. Don’t drop your cellphone. Put it in your pocket because you don’t want to be the one who drops it and then looks up and says, ‘What happened?’ because it can happen just like that.
“He has to be perfect for 12 rounds. I only have to be perfect for two seconds and — bam, baby, good night!”
Ortiz echoed his friendly rival’s sentiment.
“This is not going 12 rounds,” Ortiz said through an interpreter. “Either he knocks me out or I knock him out, and I wish there was no bell between rounds so we could just keep going.”
If the fight comes close to the drama of their first encounter in March 2018 in Brooklyn, New York, it will be another memorable battle.
In that fight, Wilder dropped Ortiz in the fifth round, then nearly got stopped during a massive onslaught over the final 45 seconds of the seventh round only to rally to score two knockdowns in a sensational 10th-round knockout victory.
Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs), 34, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, faced Ortiz (31-1, 26 KOs), 40, a Cuban defector fighting out of Miami, for the first time in an optional defense when no other big names in the division were willing to fight him. And now Wilder is giving the still-dangerous Ortiz, who has won three fights in a row since, a second opportunity.
“Luis Ortiz is one of the best in the world and one of the most dangerous men in boxing, period,” Wilder said. “That’s why no one in the top 10 has given him an opportunity. They call him old, but the logic of it don’t make sense, because if he’s old, that’s easy — you should get in there with him. Should be no fear at all if he’s so old. But in reality they know what they’re facing.”
Wilder goes into the fight with more to lose than just his world title and undefeated record. He already has a signed agreement to face lineal champion Tyson Fury, likely on Feb. 22 in Las Vegas, in a rematch of their controversial draw in December. Ortiz aims to wreck those plans.
“This isn’t just Deontay fighting any other opponent,” Ortiz said. “Obviously, Deontay had his reasons for taking this fight. But on Saturday, I’m going to show why that was a mistake. I’m going to be the new heavyweight champion of the world.”
Wilder acknowledged that Ortiz appeared to be in better shape for this fight than the first one, as he has slimmed down during his training camp, which he held in Las Vegas and away from his family in Miami, where he usually prepares for his fights.
“He looks good,” Wilder said, giving him the once-over. “But I don’t think it’s going to matter when you’re dealing with a fighter like me. I’m in shape 365 days a year. I come to camp in shape. The first day of camp, we spar. It’s always good to see my opponents in shape and prepared properly for a war. That’s all I can ask. Because they know what they’re in for when they go against me.”
Wilder has said he envisions a first-round knockout, but on Wednesday, he did not pinpoint the round he believed the fight would end.
“Just don’t blink,” he said. “When I step, I only have one goal, one mission — to knock my opponent out. It’s all I know. I don’t know no other way. No one wants to come to a fight and see a 12-round fight — no disrespect to the little guys (in the co-feature, junior lightweights Leo Santa Cruz and Miguel Flores) up here — but when they’re dealing with the heavyweight division, they don’t want to sit there and wait. They got other plans.
“My job is to go in and make an exciting fight and get a dramatic knockout. And that’s what I’ve been doing all my career and that’s what I plan to continue to do to the end of my career.”