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Deontay Wilder finds worthy heavyweight opponent in Luis Ortiz

Updated March 2, 2018 - 12:55 pm

Deontay Wilder has knocked out all 38 of his opponents and he’s never faced a boxer who could match his power.

The WBC heavyweight champion might meet his match Saturday when he faces Luis Ortiz, the powerful southpaw from Cuba. Wilder and Ortiz headline the Showtime-televised event that airs at 6 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

“The reason I wanted this fight is not only do I think Ortiz is one of the best technical fighters in the division, but he’s the boogeyman that everyone is running from,” said Wilder, who will be making his seventh title defense. “Champions have avoided him.”

Wilder and U.K. star Anthony Joshua, the WBA/IBF titlist, are considered the top two heavyweights in the division. But many pundits give Joshua the edge because he owns a signature victory over Wladimir Klitschko.

The U.S. Olympic bronze medalist could prove the doubters wrong with a dominant victory over Ortiz. Wilder (39-0, 38 knockouts) is a minus-370 favorite and Ortiz (28-0, 24 KOs) is a plus-285 underdog at the Westgate sportsbook. The over-under is 9 1/2 rounds with the over odds at plus-145.

“This is going to be like two trains on the same track about to collide,” Ortiz said. “I’m going to win and I’m going to take his belt.”

March will be the month of the heavyweights with Joshua defending his two belts March 31 against Las Vegas resident Joseph Parker, the WBO champion from New Zealand.

If Wilder wins Saturday, he might face Joshua later this year for a heavyweight showdown.

“The titles are great, but these fights are about something else,” said Stephen Espinoza, the president of Showtime Sports. “They’re about legacy. When people look back and ask, ‘What kind of fighter was Deontay Wilder?’ This is the fight that they will talk about.

“More important than knockouts and unbeaten records, this is why fighters are remembered.”

In his attempts to land notable fights, Wilder has hit roadblocks; his opponents have been found positive in drug tests, including last fall before a scheduled November fight with Ortiz. Tests on Ortiz showed positive for the banned diuretics chlorothiazide and hydrochlorothiazide, which are used to treat high blood pressure but also can be masking agents for performance-enhancing drugs.

In that bout, Bermane Stiverne replaced Ortiz.

Russian fighter Alexander Povetkin also tested positive for a banned substance in 2016 and was pulled from a bout with Wilder.

More boxing: Follow all of our boxing coverage online at reviewjournal.com/boxing and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact Gilbert Manzano at gmanzano@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GManzano24 on Twitter.

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