After Deontay Wilder extended his record to 40-0 with a 10th-round TKO win over Luis Ortiz on Saturday night, what is next for the American? And what conclusions can we draw from the WBC world heavyweight champion's seventh successful title defence?
Wild and dangerous
Saturday night's bout was by no means a faultless display, and in the seventh round Wilder looked on the verge of defeat, but once again he showed his ability to land concussive blows and leave the judges redundant.
Wilder turned on the power in the 10th round, and for the 39th time in 40 professional fights, his opponent succumbed. The 32-year-old from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, dropped Ortiz three times in all. Only Bermane Stiverne in January 2015 has taken him the distance in the professional ranks.
If there were any doubts to Wilder's credentials to be considered among the best in his division, surely they were erased with his clinical finish of such a dangerous and heavy-handed challenger.
Some criticise Wilder's wild style, and it may not be pleasing on the eye, but it works in this era at least. Once Wilder started landing a succession of clubbing hooks in Round 10, victory was his.
Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) is lighter than his rivals, but he still has unquestionable knockout power. He put Ortiz down for the first time in the Cuban's career in the fifth round with a right that landed flush on his forehead. If there was more time left in the round, Wilder may have finished it then.
Wilder shows vulnerability -- but also heart
Wilder's heavyweight rivals -- Anthony Joshua among them -- will have been encouraged by his seventh-round crisis.
It appeared he was on the brink of being knocked out after he was caught by a right-left combo while penned against the ropes. Wilder recovered, but all three judges had him winning by only a point at the time of the stoppage. Others watching the fight had Ortiz ahead.
"I almost had him and I think I would've if there were a few more seconds in the [seventh] round," Ortiz said. "Wilder was definitely saved by the bell. I thought I had him out on his feet. But you have to give him credit, he weathered the storm." Ortiz showed how open Wilder is at times, which a big puncher can capitalise on. But overcoming a crisis before clinching victory will be good for Wilder, just as Joshua peeled himself off the canvas to halt Wladimir Klitschko in April 2017.
Former undisputed world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis concurred:
This fight will do for Wilder what the Klitschko fight did for AJ.He showed heart and composure at the brink of defeat. It only makes me want to see Wilder and Joshua that much more.. but AJ has his own business to take care of. #wilderortiz
— Lennox Lewis (@LennoxLewis) March 4, 2018
King Kong is scary
Ortiz (28-1, 24 KOs) will be seen as a dangerous man to be avoided by other contenders after having Wilder out on his feet.
The 38-year-old Cuban defector (now based in Miami) known as "King Kong" let Wilder off the hook and was floored three times in total on the way to taking his first loss. But Ortiz showed he is among the best of a small group of fighters beneath the titleholders of Wilder, Joshua and Joseph Parker.
As there is a limited pool of talent in the heavyweight division available to the two champions after March 31, Ortiz may find himself avoided, with little opportunities, after this defeat.
He was ranked at No. 3 with the WBC going into the fight but did not feature in the other three world governing bodies' top 10. Trying to secure another world title shot, at his age, looks difficult, especially with only two titleholders and no ranking to force a mandatory defence.
Wilder-Joshua moves closer to reality
Coming perilously close to losing his belt and unbeaten record was quickly forgotten at the post-fight news conference, as Wilder reiterated his desire to face the winner of the bout between English superstar Joshua and New Zealand's Joseph Parker for the other three world title belts.
IBF-WBA champion Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs), 28, is the betting favourite to beat WBO titleholder Parker (24-0, 18 KOs), 26, at Cardiff's Principality Stadium on March 31.
"I always said that I want to unify," Wilder said. "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."
Wilder also dismissed the relevance of Joshua's 11th-round win over 41-year-old Klitschko (64-5, 53 KOs) in London. Klitschko lost three titles in a huge upset to Joshua's British rival Tyson Fury and had not fought for 17 months by the time he faced Joshua. Klitschko had reigned for almost a decade, but Wilder says Joshua faced the Ukrainian when he was past his best.
"When Wladimir fought Joshua he was already beaten, he wasn't a king, he was already dethroned," Wilder said.
"He was coming off nearly a two-year layoff. Really, Joshua didn't win that fight, Wladimir lost that fight. He had three opportunities to get that guy out of there. He made the wrong decision at the wrong time, and it cost him.
"Luis Ortiz has got better skills; no one wanted to fight this guy."