Saturday March 3rd from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn NY, a world title double header hosted by Dibella Entertainment broadcast on Showtime, headlined by a WBC heavyweight championship showdown between Undefeated title holder Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” facing undefeated former WBA interim champion Luis “King Kong” Ortiz. This was to be a fight that answered questions on both men’s careers to date “Were they all that appeared on the surface or carefully manufactured?”
The nights co-feature was a rematch between Super Middleweights Andre Dirrell and Jose Uzcategui for the interim IBF Super Middleweight title. The pair had first met in May of 2017, it was a close bout early on then as the harder hitting Uzcategui started taking control a punch at the bell ending round eight was overplayed by Dirrell with his corner screaming “It was a late hit”. While officials debated how the contest should be declared, the uncle of Dirrell Leon Lawson pulled a shameful act and sucker punched Uzcategui from the ring apron. He then like any coward fled the venue before authorities could take him into custody.
When Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz stepped in the ring, fans expected fireworks early but found themselves momentarily disappointed. As Ortiz slowly came forward looking to capitalize on his reach advantage Wilder appeared over cautious. The trend remained over four rounds then in the fifth action picked up when a Wilder right hand buckled Ortiz legs and only the ropes from going down completely.
The action picked up from the sixth on as Ortiz with his head clear used the “Southpaw” stance to keep Wilder guessing how he can again land the big right hand. A left from Ortiz shook Wilder who in return answered back with reckless aggression though most punches missed their target. It was a slow seventh round until Ortiz landed a big left hand with about twenty seconds remaining that sent Wilder on his heels. The champion layed on the ropes as Ortiz snapped his head with accurate combinations, he would hurt Wilder with hooks to the body before the bell sounded possibly saving Wilder from being stopped cold.
There would be more trouble for Wilder in the eighth, as Ortiz continued coming forward Wilder seemed desperate to land his right hand in hopes he slowed Ortiz momentum. outside looking to land his big right hand. We would see Ortiz slow his pace in round nine possibly to regain some stamina, this would also benefit Wilder who had not fully cleared his head in round eight from the seventh round assault of Ortiz.
As the tenth began both men seemed determined to close the show as they let their hands go freely, Wilder incorporating footwork while using his jab kept Ortiz from capitalizing on his reach advantage. Then as the fighters threw simultaneous punches midway through the tenth, Wilder landing first stunned Ortiz sending him to the canvas. The Cuban puncher would get up only to absorb more punishment from Wilder and sent to the canvas one more time before referee David Fields counted him out at 2:05 of round ten.
With the win Deontay Wilder improved to 40-0 (39), retained his title and answered questions on his chin, his heart and most of all willingness to dig deep when needed. This would be the first loss of Luis Ortiz professional career, his record now stands at 28-1 (24). In my opinion this fight was great for the sport in terms of helping heavyweight boxing return to former glory, it rivaled the intensity of the divisions unified champion Anthony Joshua’s battle against former long time Kingpin Wladamir Klitschko in April of 2017. We can now only hope the winner of Anthony Joshua and WBO champion Joseph Parker faces off against Deontay Wilder later this year.
The nights co-feature between Andre Dirrell and Jose Uzcategui, unlike their first meeting which ended in controversy was a one sided affair. It would start with Andre Dirrell attempting to work off his jab and tempo but Uzcategui looking to settle a score took control almost immediately using non stop pressure and volume punching that kept Dirrell on his back-foot, for most of the night. At times Dirrell used his flickering jab to offset the rhythm of Uzcategui but those moments lasted only seconds at a time.
An underrated offense of Uzcategui was put on display as he leaned away rolling with the punches of Dirrell. The best round of the night for Dirrell was round six when he put together clean hard combinations but Uzcategui appeared unfazed. At the start of round seven Andre Dirrell swollen and looked dejected, was told by Virgil Hunter “You Need a Knockout to win” but Uzcategui with other plans punished Dirrell through rounds seven and eight. The corner of Dirrell would stop the contest after round eight saving him from further punishment.
With the win Jose Uzcategui improved to 27-2 (23) and gained the IBF Interim Super Middleweight title placing him in line for a shot against current champion Caleb Truax. This would be the first official stoppage loss for Andre Dirrell whose record now stands at 26-3 (16).
In Undercard action
Alicia “The Empress” Napoleon improved to 9-1 (5) and claimed the female WBA Super Middleweight title after scoring a unanimous decision over formerly undefeated Femke Davis 6-1 (3). The official scores read 99-91 and 98-92 twice in favor of Napoleon.
Super Welterweight- Patrick Day 15-2-1 (6) def. Kyrone Davis 13-2 (5) via UD 10.
Super Middleweight- Sergey Derevyanchenko 12-0 (10) def. Dashon Johnson 22-23-3 (7) via RTD 6.
Welterweight- Richard Hitchins 4-0 (2) def. Charles Stanford 2-3 via TKO 2.
Super Lightweight- Gary Antuanne Russell 4-0 (4) def. Keasen Freeman 4-1 (2) via TKO 2.