Deontay Wilder is seeking to make the tenth defence of his WBC world heavyweight title when he faces Luis Ortiz on Saturday night.
The fight, which is set to take place at the legendary MGM Grand in Las Vegas, is the first time Wilder has been in the ring since annihilating Dominic Breazeale in May.
Although a rematch with Tyson Fury is set to take place in 2020, Wilder insisted he is fully prepared for the challenge of ‘King Kong’ in another highly-anticipated rematch.
He said: “We trained very hard to get prepared and to go to war. This is war.
“When I fight, you know what to expect.
“Like I said before, get your popcorn, get your pizza, go to the bathroom, make sure you get by somebody who won’t disturb you. Put your cell phone away, you don’t wanna be the guy looking up from your phone saying ‘what happened?’
“It can happen just like that.
“Like I said before these guys have to be perfect for 12 rounds, I only have to be perfect for two seconds.”
But what happened the last time the two men shared a ring 18 months ago?
It was a truly remarkable night of heavyweight boxing in Brooklyn.
By 2017, Deontay Wilder had begun to establish himself as one of the best heavyweights on the planet after making five defences of his WBC heavyweight title.
The ‘Bronze Bomber’ beat Bermaine Stiverne in January 2015 to pick up the vacant green and gold belt and beat Eric Molina and Artur Szpilka before sustaining a hand injury in his win over Gerald Washington.
At the same time, Ortiz was making waves in the heavyweight division and was quickly becoming known as the man to avoid. A skilled Cuban with a signature amateur style, his power had carried up through to the professional rankings.
After signing with Matchroom Boxing in 2016 and stopping Dave Allen, it soon became clear the division had a serious contender.
In July 2017, it was claimed a deal was being ironed out for Wilder to defend against Ortiz in November. Wilder’s mandatory (former champion Stiverne) had accepted step aside money to appear on the undercard.
However, in late September, the fight was cancelled after Ortiz tested positive for the banned diuretics chlorothiazide and hydrochlorothiazide – substances he claimed to be taking for his blood pressure.
After smashing Stiverne in a rematch, Wilder then granted Ortiz another shot at the belt, with terms being agreed in January 2018 for the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on March 3.
As many suspected, Ortiz was the superior boxer and his southpaw stance and years of amateur experience caused the champion all sorts of problems,. The disciplined Cuban would shoot a right jab to the head, before coming low with his powerful left.
The American struggled to adjust his feet correctly for the first four rounds and looked surprised by the aggression of ‘King Kong’. However, at the end of the fifth, Ortiz was caught on the forehead with a glancing blow, before a follow up right to the temple sent the 38-year-old to the canvas.
After arguably getting saved by the bell, Ortiz took more punishment in the sixth and the end looked near. Yet his experience and composure proved invaluable as, with Wilder looking for the finish in the second half of the seventh, he landed a stunning counter right.
For the first time in his career, Wilder was hurt baldly by a follow up left hook and began to hold on for dear life. The bell sounded, but there was controversy as, for around 20 seconds, the referee examined Wilder’s face before he came out for the eighth round – granting him time to recover.
The eighth and ninth rounds followed the same patterns, with Wilder trying to land his jab, only to get caught by counters. What followed next was pure chaos.
As the tenth began, Wilder went looking for the finish after recovering fully and sensing the end may be near. A brawl practically broke out and ended up with Ortiz on the deck, but the referee ruled it to not be a knockdown.
Wilder then pierced the guard with a stunning right hand, before rushing in with a barrage of punches to drop his man again. The challenger struggled bravely to his feet, but was almost instantly caught by a right uppercut and the fight was stopped as he hit the canvas for a third time.
Both men praised one another for putting on a thrilling fight amidst the chill of the New York night air, with Wilder reiterating his desire to unify the division and face the winner of the fight between Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker.
The fight was aired live on Showtime in the United States, live on Sky Sports in the United Kingdom; live on tvOne and iflix in Indonesia; live on beIN Sports in France and Asia-Pacific and live on Fox Sports in Australia.
The fight averaged 1.1 million viewers and peaked at 1.2 million on Showtime. The last time Showtime had done more than 1 million viewers was in 2015 when Wilder had first defeated Stiverne for the WBC title.
Wilder reportedly earned a career-high payday at the time of $2.1 million and Ortiz received a $500,000 purse.