What occurred to Wilder's rival Luis Ortiz?
Wilder sensationally stopped Ortiz in their brilliant first fight
Luis Ortiz may have sighed regretfully when he saw Deontay Wilder dejected by Tyson Fury earlier this year.
It was Ortiz who found himself in close proximity not just once but twice to end Wilder's fearsome reign – but on both occasions succumbed to knockout blows from behind.
41-year-old Cuban heavyweight contender Ortiz is in the last chance limo and will return against Alexander Flores on Saturday night.
Ortiz & # 39; only two losses in 35 fights were against Wilder
Ortiz was considered a avoided and dangerous contender for the world heavyweight championship from 2016 to 2018 in particular.
Though he had a chance to face Anthony Joshua, said promoter Eddie Hearn and challenged Wilder twice, he had a reputation for being a skillful south paw that should be left alone.
Ortiz's left hand gave Wilder a shellacking in the seventh round of their first fight in 2018, wobbled with the then undefeated WBC champion and staggered within a surprise.
Wilder said after fighting back to break Ortiz's unbeaten record, "He's one of the best in the world. Nobody gave Ortiz a chance, even after I beat him.
"Usually other people are ready to fight him after you take someone out for seeing weakness and cracks in armor.
"You didn't want to fight Ortiz, you don't want to fight him now."
Ortiz won many rounds in both fights with Wilder
Ortiz succumbed to Wilder's KO comeback twice
Wilder continued, "He hit me with everything but the sink – gunshots that normally knock people down, but I'm a different animal.
"The seventh round was an amazing time for me because I could see what I was made of. In these conditions, I was proud of myself to deal with it.
“He had 40 seconds and he couldn't do it. He threw everything and I had the flu.
"I didn't get any credit for the intellect I had in the seventh round in the ring."
Ortiz bounced back with three straight wins, swearing, "Every heavyweight out there should know I'm still at 40."
The rematch with Wilder was completely one-sided in Ortiz's favor for six rounds. At the time, beating the champion felt like a blueprint.
"I thought he would win," admitted opponents Flores at the weekend.
Then bang! Wilder's first significant blow of the fight caused Ortiz to collapse.
Wilder KO & # 39; d Ortiz in a deficit win in their rematch
Joshua analyzed Wilder's second Ortiz knockout: "The good thing he's doing here is that his back is against Ortiz on the ropes, which is a dangerous place because there is no room on the ropes to make room.
"But what he does, he flips the thrust out to get Ortiz to think:" Wait a minute, when I dive in something comes back. "
"So Ortiz steps back and follows him over. What Wilder does when he moves to get more space, from the ropes he's moved, he's the general in the ring because he has all the space behind him.
"Now Ortiz's back is on the ropes, which is a very dangerous place for Ortiz, so Wilder did a great thing there to turn the tables.
"He controls with the leading hand. Not every push will land, sometimes we just use it as a smoke screen to place something there.
"And as soon as that thrust hits your hand, your shoulder, your face, I know that bad boy (the right hand) will follow."
Wilder's run would eventually end on the forefoot due to Fury's aggression, a different style than the one Ortiz got so close with.
It is now too late for the Cuban to ever become world champion – he is 41, Fury and Joshua's titles will be defended in December, then they plan to fight each other twice in 2021.
But he's closer than you think, though Oleksandr Usyk and Alexander Povetkin seem far better placed and Dillian Whyte is planning to crash the party.
In third place on the WBC rankings, Povetkin (the mandatory challenger to Fury's title, whose status is at stake in a rematch with Whyte), former champion Wilder and Usyk (whose focus is on the mandatory challenger of Joshua) are the only competitors via Ortiz).
Ortiz is also number 4 with the WBA behind Trevor Bryan, Usyk and Wilder. Should these names be tied elsewhere, Ortiz is close enough to Joshua's title to have a say.
Ortiz & # 39; opponent Flores, his first in a year, is 11 years younger than him, has won 18 of 21 fights and was knocked out by Charles Martin and Joseph Parker.
"Ortiz is a great fighter," said Flores. "He's still one of the most feared men in the division. A lot of people at his level don't want to fight him. His only losses to Deontay Wilder say it all about his quality.
"Whenever you struggle with the caliber Ortiz was up to, you know you'll know what to do in training. But the older you get, the harder it is to recover. It doesn't get any easier." Maybe his age will show up on Saturday night. "
There's still a lot to do and possibly a very long wait if he beats Flores on Saturday, which he might not be able to afford in his 40s, but Ortiz has a chance to reintroduce himself as a heavyweight player.