REIGNING World Boxing Council (WBC) champion, Deontay Wilder stopped Luis Ortiz at the Barclays Center in New York in the 10th round of a heavyweight slug-fest as he retained his
The American is desperate to take on WBA, IBF and IBO champion, Anthony Joshua later in the year in a unification bout.
Wilder lost the opening four rounds as he struggled to solve the previously unbeaten Cuban puzzle in front of him.
But he dropped the challenger in the fifth round with a right hand to finally get a foothold on the fight.
That lasted until the seventh round when he himself was in deep trouble as Ortiz sensed blood and almost earned the stoppage.
This time it was the champion who made it to his corner but he continued to struggle in the subsequent session.
Wilder had taken the challenger's best punches, however, and began to fight back.
Victory looked to have come in the 10th round when he dropped the challenger but Ortiz did well to somehow beat the count though he did so on unsteady legs and he was in no position to defend himself as Wilder went for the kill.
And, when a vicious uppercut sent him to the canvas again, referee David Fields waved it off before he had even hit the floor with 2:05 on the clock.
All three judges had Wilder a point up at the time of the stoppage, scores that were at odds with those at ringside.
The champion, who is now unbeaten in 40 fights, said: “King Kong ain't got nothing on me! A true champion always finds a way to come back and that’s what I did tonight.
“Luis Ortiz is a crazy guy and he put up a greet fight. He was a great opponent and I showed I can take a punch.
“When he leaves tonight he can hold his head up high. It was an awesome fight and my heart goes out to Luis Ortiz.”
The Cuban after his fall believes it was not his day after all he gave out his best to end the reign of the flamboyant American.
"He hit me with flurries of punches but they didn't have any sting, they just knocked me off balance. I showed I am a true champion tonight. My grandmother told me a long time ago that I was anointed by god.
"I feel fine. I did receive a right hand, but I'm OK. I was listening to the directions that my corner was giving me. In this sport, any punch can end a fight. But in the ring anything can happen," Ortiz stated.
Meanwhile, Joshua of course, still needs to do the business against Joseph Parker in Cardiff on March 31, when he will attempt to add the WBO belt to his WBA and IBF titles.
Whoever comes out on top in Cardiff will then surely face WBC champion Wilder in a unification fight for the ages which will render the first ever heavyweight champion to hold all four major belts at once.
"I'm ready right now. I always said that I want to unify. I'm ready whenever those guys are. I am the baddest man on the planet and I proved that tonight. This solidified my position at the top of the food chain tonight.
"Soon there will be one champion, one face, one name – that will be Deontay Wilder. It's not about how big your muscles are – it's about the heart," said Wilder.
GRITTY: Wilder (left) in an exchange of punches with Ortiz, before the latter fell in Round 10 on Saturday night in New York, USA.