By William Hill
Last Updated: 9th December 2019
As the heavyweight division continues to meander slowly towards the mega-fights that fans have been clamouring for, Deontay Wilder is the next big name to try to impress as he takes on Luis Ortiz for the second time on Saturday in Las Vegas with his WBC world heavyweight title on the line.
Meanwhile in Liverpool, Callum Smith will be defending his WBA ‘super’ belt against John Ryder, with the champion hoping to cement his claims for a fight with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
Wilder to land early knockout
Despite criticism levelled at Wilder, Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury for avoiding one another, Andy Ruiz Jr’s defeat of Joshua showed the so-called lesser opponents can present banana skins to the big three.
In fact, Ortiz pushed Wilder to the limit in their previous bout, arguably winning seven or eight rounds before the champion took him out in the 10th round with a relentless barrage of punches. The stats afterwards confirmed that Ortiz had thrown more jabs and landed more power punches than Wilder and he’s unlikely to bow out easily this time either.
The question in this fight will be if Ortiz’s southpaw style allows him to dodge and move away from Wilder’s powerful (but often easy to telegraph) attacking arsenal for the whole bout. Both he and Fury did for the majority of their first bouts with the 34-year-old, but another of Wilder’s great strengths is carrying that power through the duration of fights.
Ortiz to win a points decision at 14/1 could offer value if the Cuban can do for 12 rounds what he did for eight in the first fight. But the obvious selection given his 41 knockouts in 42 fights is Wilder to win by knockout and that is the way the fight is expected to go with an odds-on 1/3 price.
The rounds market is an interesting proposition for this fight with a Fury rematch waiting in the wings. Wilder may look to get Ortiz out early and send a message to the division, or he may be a little more reserved as he looks to protect his future earnings. It seems more likely to be the former if Wilder’s previous fight with Dominic Breazeale is anything to go by, lasting less than three minutes. Ortiz is more accomplished than this, but a third-round knockout for the world champion at 9/1 is well-priced.
Smith to see off Ryder
Like Wilder, Smith goes into his fight with mandatory challenger Ryder as the well-fancied home favourite looking to set up bigger fights in the future. Talks of an Anfield homecoming, potentially against Billy Joe Saunders, have been rife as well as talks of a match-up with four-weight world champion Alvarez.
Ryder has so far failed to make the most of big opportunities when they have arisen in his career, losing his biggest fights against Rocky Fielding and Saunders. Once again, the London-born southpaw has a chance to gain a big notch on his belt.
With his undeniable talent, Smith moved out of the shadows with his win against George Groves in September 2018 and is growing his brand admirably in the UK. He should be a level or two above Ryder in this one and will want to put on a show before finishing off his opponent impressively. Smith has 19 career knockouts, and this one could go the same way at 2/5. Smith in the later rounds could offer good value also, with the Liverpudlian 14/1 to take this one in the 10th.