SAN DIEGO, January 17, 2015 – The early knockout victory everyone expected to see Saturday in Las Vegas between Deontay “Bronze Bomber” Wilder (33-0, 32 KOs) and Bermane “B-Ware” Stiverne (24-2-1, 21 KOs) didn’t happen.
Once the shock wore off from seeing the fight going to the judges, American fans thrilled to hear the words, “…and the new” from ring announcer Jimmy Lennon. Wilder’s unanimous decision win brought the the WBC heavyweight title back to American soil and answered many of the questions asked about him to this point.
Does Wilder have any skills beyond punching? Yes, he does. He showed that he can box, he can make smart tactical decisions, and he can take a shot or two.
Is Wilder worthy of getting in the ring with the top fighters in the division? Yes. But don’t book a date with Dr. Steelhammer just yet.
Wilder dominated on the scorecards. Adelaide Byrd scored it 118-109, Jerry Roth had it 119-109, and Craig Metcalfe scored it 120-107. Metcalfe gave Wilder credit for a knockdown at the end of Round 2 ring at the bell, but it wasn’t called officially by referee Tony Weeks.
Wilder’s dominance was built on working a fearsome jab at the end of his long reach to chip away at Bermane Stiverne. He landed 120 jabs to Stiverne’s 38, a three to one ratio. He started off strong with power punches behind that jab in the early rounds, rocking Stiverne on several occasions. Stiverne showed he can take a punch, and he stayed on his feet.
But Stiverne never really seemed right in this fight, and he admitted as much after it was over. He seemed slow and he wasn’t letting his hands go. He was far more concerned about keeping up a high guard in front of his face. It didn’t help him much.
“I felt 100 percent before the fight, but when I got in the ring. I couldn’t cut the ring, I couldn’t move my head like I do in sparring. What can I say?” said the disappointed Haitian champion after the fight.
Wilder said, “I’m so excited to bring this belt back to America officially… I think I answered a lot of questions tonight. I already knew it, we knew we could go 12 rounds, we knew we could take a punch.
“Stiverne is tough, he’s got a great chin,” said Wilder. “I just wanted to show the world what Deontay Wilder was capable of. I don’t want anyone to doubt me anymore.”
With a heavyweight title belt back on American soil, what’s next for Wilder? He said he wants to stay active. “I want to bring excitement back to the heavyweight division, I don’t want to sit around for a year.” Wilder said he wants to fight three or four times a year.
The man at the top of the heavyweight division, Wladimir Klitschko, has owned heavyweight boxing along with his brother Vitaly for over a decade. It’s a little early to think about Wilder going up against the dangerous Dr. Steelhammer. There are plenty of opponents Wilder can think about facing first: Alexander Povetkin of Russian is the number one contender. Kubrat Pulev of Bulgaria lost to Klitschko and would provide a point of comparison for Wilder. Vyacheslav Glazkov of Ukraine is undefeated. Mike Perez of Cuba provides a fascinating opportunity for a bout in Cuba.
But my first choice and Wilder’s first choice is Tyson Fury, the outspoken British heavyweight. Before Saturday’s bout, Wilder said he would like go to the UK for the fight. “As a fighter I like Fury,” Wilder said. “He’s like me, he’s entertaining. Not many guys have it. I’m not pretending to be something I’m not – I’m exciting, I’m funny, I have a lot of charisma. Fury is the same, he likes to entertain the crowd and it’s all natural.”
On Twitter earlier in the week, Fury didn’t return the kind words. He tweeted, “Stiverne a little fat pudding, Wilder a lanky chinless hype gob! Tyson fury the best fighter on da planet.” Let the trash talk begin.
It’s a joy for fight fans when a bout exceeds expectations. “Young Master” Amir Imam (16-0, 14 KOs) of New York and Fidel Maldonado Jr. (19-3, 16 KOs) of New Mexico opened the televised card with an early Fight of the Year candidate and certainly a Round of the Year nominee.
Before Imam won with a stoppage at 2:59 of Round 5 there were five knockdowns, starting with Maldonado hitting the canvas at the very end of Round 1. Maldonado got up and returned the favor on Imam in Round 2. Imam knocked down Maldonado twice more in the second round, and the pair traded punishment for three more rounds before Imam finally sealed the deal with a wicked right that made Maldonado’s eyes roll back in his head. There was no doubting the heart of either man in this bout.
“It was a tough knockdown,” said Imam about Maldonado tagging him, “but champions get up and finish the fight hard, and that’s what I did. I just had to stay composed and do what I needed to do.”
WBC super bantamweight world champion Leo Santa Cruz (29-0, 16 KOs) had little trouble with Jesus Ruiz (33-6-5, 22 KOs). Ruiz gave it a decent effort, starting off with smart body work. But it didn’t make much difference. The fight was a televised sparring session. Santa Cruz decided even he was getting bored and he started going to work in the seventh round. Santa Cruz smothered Ruiz on the ropes after hurting him with a right to the chin at the start of the eighth round, and referee Kenny Bayliss felt the fight had gone on long enough, stopping it at 29 seconds of the eighth round.
Santa Cruz needs to be challenged by a more skilled opponent to bring out his best. Santa Cruz will be moving to the new Premiere Boxing Champions on NBC, and let’s hope Al Haymon sets him up with someone worthy like Guillermo Rigondeaux or Carl Frampton. Santa Cruz called them out along with Abner Mares after the fight.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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