Deontay Wilder definitely felt the power of Luis Ortiz during the seventh round of their first fight.
The pair are due to meet again on Saturday night in a rematch of Wilder’s knockout win from March 2018, which was anything but a straightforward win.
Wilder floored Ortiz in the fifth before finishing him in the tenth, but faced the roughest ride of his career in between as the Cuban had him staggering all over the ring in round seven.
Wilder told PBC: “The seventh round was amazing for Ortiz, it was also amazing for me as well too.
“He landed a great shot and I stood right there in front of him because I tried to bluff it.
“He gave me a great shot, but I stayed too close.
“I pawed my jab out when I really wasn’t trying to hit him, I was really just trying to keep him at bay to stay active, to let him know that I’m still working and he sensed that.
“He saw an opening and he took it, and it highly buzzed me. When he hit me with that shot, it buzzed me and that’s when the real test came to me.
“Many people asked me what did I learn about myself in the seventh round and I tell them, ‘Nothing’. Because I already knew what I was capable of doing.
“I was very aware of what was going on, I was talking to myself in my internal voice, letting me know that I was still here.
“’Keep punching Deontay, you got it, you the king, you the champion,’ – this is what I was telling myself.
“I was looking at the ref out of my peripheral and I was looking at Ortiz straight on, so I knew where the ref was and I knew where Ortiz was as well.
“I was making sure I was hitting Ortiz and allowing the ref to see me.
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“But the key factor to the seventh round, that I didn’t get no credit for, was that I was smothering Ortiz’s punches.
“He could not release the full length of his punches, so his velocity of punches wasn’t really full.
“So even though he was hitting me with great shots it wasn’t affecting me because I was too close, I was clinching in, I was very smart.
“And for that reason I am still the heavyweight champion of the world.”
No boxer has been able to knock Wilder out since his days as an amateur fighter when hard hitting Russian Evgeny Romanov finished him in 2008.
Romanov, three months older than Wilder, was one of the Soviets’ top young heavyweights at the time, winning silver at the 2008 Russian Championships before picking up gold in 2009.
Fighting in Russia, the bout was ended in the third round.