It didn’t come as easy as he predicted, but in the end, Deontay Wilder added another knockout to his resume.
In the 10th round Saturday night, Wilder connected, finishing Luis Ortiz and defending his WBC heavyweight title. The bout took place live on Showtime from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Over 14,000 fans packed the arena and watched as Ortiz rocked Wilder in the seventh round, almost earning himself the upset. But the champion dug deep and found the energy to come out swinging in the 10th.
“‘King Kong’ (in reference to the nickname of Ortiz) ain’t got nothing on me,” Wilder said. “A true champion always finds a way to come back. Luis Ortiz is definitely a crafty guy. He put up a great fight.
“I showed everyone I can take a punch.”
Wilder moved to 40-0 with 39 career finishes, handing Ortiz his first official loss in 29 fights.
“I feel fine,” Ortiz said. “In this sport, any punch can end a fight; in the ring, anything can happen.”
Wilder out-landed Ortiz, 98-87, with Ortiz holding a 63-60 edge in power punches.
In the co-main event, Jose Uzcategui became the interim IBF super middleweight champion with a ninth round TKO victory over Andre Dirrell. Dirrell’s trainer, Virgil Hunter, tossed in the towel, ending the fight.
The bout was a rematch of a 2017 encounter in which Uzcategui was disqualified.
“I was a little surprised they stopped it in the ninth,” said Uzcategui. “I had said it would be the third round that I would knock him out. It took a little longer, but it finally came. I think it was very clear in the first fight that I did my job. In the second fight I showed even more, so there’s going to be a lot of Uzcategui from now on.”
Dirrell credited Uzcategui with using his size to his advantage.
“I’ve been in there with long fighters before, but he was especially long,” said Dirrell. “I think I was a little heavier than I wanted to be tonight, but that’s no excuse. Uzcategui did a great job. We knew we needed a knockout. The way it was going I needed to at least pick it up. I felt a little sluggish and he hit all the right shots. None of them really hurt, but he hit me where he was supposed to.”
Alicia Napoleon won the vacant women’s WBA super middleweight title with a decision over Femke Hermans.
“It’s hard to find words to describe this right now,” said Napoleon. “It’s so surreal it’s almost like a dream. I’m just glad I did it. This is one down, but there’s many more to go. The goal is to get all the belts.”
A replay of the event airs at 8 a.m. ET Sunday on Showtime and Monday at 10 p.m. ET on Showtime Extreme.