Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz 2: Fight prediction, boxing odds, card, preview, record

In what goes down as nothing short of unprecedented, WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder enters Saturday's rematch of the most difficult fight of his career just three months shy of a fight that could be called his most important. 

Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs) will give hard-hitting Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz (31-1, 26 KOs) a second chance at his title when the two meet inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas (<strong>Fox PPV, 9 p.m. ET</strong>) just 20 months after their dramatic 2018 tilt. Yet the storyline entering this weekend continues to surround what Wilder is risking by accepting such a dangerous fight. 

There is a second rematch already signed for February when Wilder, 34, will face unbeaten lineal champion Tyson Fury to settle the score from their disputed draw last December. 

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The consequences of defeat are quite simple: Should Wilder lose against Ortiz, the Fury fight is off. Just the same, Wilder is risking the chance that a bad cut or injury, even in a victory, could get in the way of what could be 2020's most anticipated fight from taking place. 

"This isn't just Deontay fighting any other opponent," Ortiz said during Thursday's final press conference. "Obviously, Deontay had his reasons for taking this fight. But on Saturday, I'm going to show why that was a mistake. I'm going to be the new heavyweight champion of the world."

Is Wilder daring to be great by giving a rematch to a fighter so openly avoided as the 40-year-old Ortiz or is this a case of unabashed recklessness? Regardless of how you look at it, it's hard to ignore the memories of how close Ortiz came to stopping Wilder during Round 7 of their first meeting. 

"I'm the best in the world and I say it with confidence," Wilder said. "With that being said, I have to give the fans what they're hungry for, that's exciting fights. The heavyweight division was in a dark place but now it's on fire and I must keep it going.

"I'd rather go through difficulty in the ring than go through my whole career being perfect. What kind of legacy would I have? I want to give you something to remember me by."

Ortiz has worked hard to fix his issues with conditioning that he feels cost him the title when he was stopped by Wilder in Round 10 of their first meeting. 

"I don't like to lose. There were legitimate circumstances why I wasn't at my best the first fight," Ortiz said. "It was a fatigue stoppage. I believe if I had continued, I would have gotten the knockout. It was only fatigue but I've corrected that this time around, so the better man will win.

"Like I said before, and Deontay said too, this is not going 12 rounds. One of us is getting knocked out. I wish there were no bells between rounds so we could just keep going."

In the co-main event, former three-division champion Leo Santa Cruz steps up in weight to challenge for the vacant WBA super featherweight title when he faces Miguel Flores. Santa Cruz (36-1-1) suffered his lone defeat in June 2016 to Carl Frampton, but got his revenge in the rematch in January 2017 and hasn't looked back. Flores comes in on a two-fight win streak with both coming via stoppage.

Also on the main card will be Brandon Figueroa taking on Julio Ceja in a super bantamweight bout for the WBA title. Figueroa is undefeated in 20 professional bouts with 15 of those coming by way of knockout. Ceja is coming in off consecutive losses to Guillermo Rigondeaux and Franklin Manzanilla.

Top bantamweight Luis Nery was also supposed to be on this card, but he failed to make weight on Friday and his bout with Emmanuel Rodriguez was called off. Instead, Leduan Barthelemy and Eduardo Ramirez will kick off the PPV festivities.

Fight card, odds

FavoriteUnderdogWeightclass

Deontay Wilder (c) -650

Luis Ortiz +475

WBC heavyweight title

Leo Santa Cruz -5000

Miguel Flores +2000

WBA super featherweight title

Brandon Figueroa -550

Julio Ceja +360

WBA super bantamweight

Odds via MGM

Prediction

While there's an equal case to be made for either fighter improving on their performance from the first fight -- especially considering Wilder was battling the flu and came in at a light weight -- what's difficult is seeing either scenario end in anything but a Wilder knockout. 

Yes, Ortiz has all the makings to be more dangerous than 20 months ago when he failed to finish Wilder when he had him hurt and gassed out en route to a stoppage loss. But history has often proved that the younger and fresher fighter coming off of a knockout win usually finds a way to do so even quicker the second time around. 

Expect Ortiz to have success boxing in the early rounds as the better technician with enough power to force Wilder into playing things safe. But the fact that Wilder brings the biggest weapon into the battle with his historically lethal right hand means, as Fury found out in 2018, that Ortiz could be on his way to pitching a masterpiece and still succumb to one lethal shot. 

Given what's at stake for Wilder and how important it would seem from a business sense for him to retain his unbeaten record to stay on course for a possible unification fight next year, he will have ample fuel to take Ortiz out as soon as the opening is there. And as we have seen throughout his four-year reign as champion, a Wilder with extra motivation is a fighter who is as dangerous as any in the sport. 

Pick: Wilder via KO8

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Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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