By Ponciano “John” Melo Jr.
LAS VEGAS, Nevada — It took just one pivotal punch to turn it all around for defending heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.
The still unbeaten fighter had his back against the ropes the duration of the fight, right up until the 7th round where he landed a devastating right hand to drop Luis Ortiz and keep hold of his World Boxing Council title.
Wilder, 34, said prior to the match that Ortiz was his “most challenging” yet, and it did show as “King Kong” Ortiz dominated the champ for the first half of the bout at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
But a thundering punch from the “Bronze Boomer” sent Ortiz to the canvass for the first time in the fight — and for good.
"I don't care about losing rounds because it is a 12-round fight," said Wilder. "I wanted to time my punches and do the right thing.
"I had to strategically move Ortiz. I had to time myself and calculate my punches. It was a war."
At the count of nine Ortiz was still on his knees, referee Kenny Baylesss waved his hands and it was all over.
Before the knockout, the judges scored the fight 59-55, 59-55, 58-56 all in favor of the challenger.
Ortiz was boxing splendidly in the first half of the fight.
Coming out aggressive, he landed beautiful left hooks on Wilder forcing him to retreat but little did the challenger know Wilder was just waiting for the perfect time to unleash his signature right hand.
Wilder has now tied Muhammad Ali for 10th straight successive title defense while also protecting his unblemished record of 42 wins, 41 via knockout and one draw.
Ortiz, on the other hand, said he still could continue, saying he was good to go.
"I was clear-headed. When the count was at seven I was still trying to get up. Maybe the count was quicker than I thought," he said.
After the match, Wilder once again told that another rematch with Tyson Fury is set to happen next year in February.
"Next we have Tyson Fury, of course," he said.
"Then, after that I want one champion, one face, one name," hinting a unification match with either the winner of Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua.