LAS VEGAS — A few minutes after heavyweight world titlist Deontay Wilder weighed in Friday for his rematch with Luis “King Kong” Ortiz and finished an interview with the United Kingdom’s Sky Sports, he wandered toward the stands to mingle with the fans inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Wilder laughed and joked with them, posed for selfies and signed fight posters. He was in a jovial mood, but said he plans to be quite serious when he makes his 10th title defense in the main event of the Premier Boxing Champions card at the arena on Saturday (Fox PPV, 9 p.m. ET).
“This time around you know what it’s gonna be,” Wilder said. “He knows what happened the first time. He knows what’s gonna happen the second time. He looked good though. As a champion you want to see your opponent look good and look in shape, so when it comes Saturday night I won’t have no mercy on him when I’m ready to do what I do.
“He knows it’s coming but we don’t know when it’s coming. When it comes — bam, baby! Good night!”
Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs), 34, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, weighed in at 219½ pounds. He weighed 214¾ the first time he faced Ortiz in March 2018 and knocked him out in the 10th round of a fight-of-the-year contender in which he dropped Ortiz in the fifth round, barely survived a brutal onslaught of shots over the final 45 seconds of the seventh round and then scored a devastating knockout in the 10th.
Ortiz (31-1, 26 KOs), 40, a Cuban defector fighting out of Miami, weighed 236½ pounds after having weighed 241¼ for first fight. Ortiz, who appeared to be in the best condition he has ever been in, was his lightest since he weighed 230¼ for a fight in 2015.
“There’s nothing more to talk about. Tomorrow is our night. I’m ready,” Ortiz said through an interpreter.
Leo Santa Cruz weighed 129½ pounds and Miguel Flores (24-2, 12 KOs), 27, of Spring, Texas, was on the junior lightweight limit of 130 pounds for their fight for a vacant world title.
Santa Cruz said he hopes he and Flores can steal the show with an action-packed bout.
“Go out there and give a war. Go out there and throw a lot of punches,” he said when asked how they would do that. “The fans know I come here to fight for them.”
Santa Cruz (36-1-1, 19 KOs), 31, of Rosemead, California, is moving up from featherweight and aiming to win a world title in a fourth weight class. He can become the fifth Mexican boxer to do that and would join Hall of Famer Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez and Jorge Arce, both of whom are on this year’s ballot for the first time, and Canelo Alvarez, who accomplished it Nov. 2 when he knocked out Sergey Kovalev to win a light heavyweight title.
Flores is a big underdog, but is at ease in that role.
“They keep counting me out. I’m enjoying the moment. We’re here on the biggest stage in boxing and I’m ready,” Flores said. “We’re here to put on show.”
Junior featherweight Brandon Figueroa (20-0, 15 KOs) weighed the division limit of 122 pounds for his first title defense. However, former titleholder Julio Ceja (32-4, 28 KOs) is not eligible to win the title because he was dramatically overweight, coming in at 126¼ pounds, well over the division limit. Technically, he was a junior lightweight, but the sides worked out an undisclosed financial deal for the fight to go ahead. Figueroa cannot lose the title even if he loses the fight.
The opening fight of the pay-per-view, a bantamweight world title eliminator between former world titleholders Luis Nery (30-0, 24 KOs) and Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-1, 12 KOs), was canceled at the weigh-in because Nery was 119 pounds, one over the division limit. Rodriguez, who was on weight at 118, refused to make a financial deal to go through with the fight.
Nery has a history of weight issues, having lost his title at the scale in March 2018 for being 121 pounds for a bantamweight title rematch in Japan against Shinsuke Yamanaka, from whom he had won the belt in their first fight.
To replace Nery-Rodriguez, PBC moved a 10-round featherweight rematch between Las Vegas-based Cuban defector Leduan Barthelemy (15-0-1, 7 KOs), 30, and Eduardo Ramirez (22-2-3, 9 KOs), 26, of Mexico, up the card to open the pay-per-view telecast. They boxed to a 10-round split draw in September 2017.
Also, the Nevada State Athletic Commission released the official contract purses for the card. Wilder’s contract calls for $3 million, but he is guaranteed at least $20 million. Ortiz’s Nevada contract is for $1.5 million, but he is guaranteed at least $7 million. Santa Cruz’s purse is $750,000, but he is guaranteed at least $2 million. Flores will make $100,000, Figueroa $200,000 and Ceja $50,000. Nery loses out on a $300,000 purse and Rodriguez on $75,000.