It’s been over a decade since we last saw a big heavyweight boxing fight in America because ever since the Klitschkos started to reign the weight class, they have taken those big fights to Europe instead. That may be about to change very soon as WBC heavyweight champion Bermane Stiverne defends his title against mandatory challenger Deontay Wilder on January 17 at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
US Heavyweight Showdown
The fight marks the first time in decades where two prominent heavyweight boxers from the USA will fight for a piece of the world heavyweight title. Although the champion Stiverne is a Canadian of Haitian descent, he has been training and fighting out of Las Vegas. On the other hand, the unbeaten Wilder hails from Tuscaloosa, Alabama and hopes to become the first American born heavyweight champion since Shannon Briggs won the WBO title in 2006. Briggs’ reign was short-lived as he immediately lost in his first title defense the following year. Since then, the Europeans have dominated boxing’s most prestigious weight class until one of the Klitchsko’s-Vitali, retired from the sport to pursue a political career in his hometown.
Breaking the Monotony
Bermane Stiverne broke the European monotony by capturing the WBC title which Vitali Klitchsko vacated when he walked away from the sport. Stiverne fought Chris Arreola in the first heavyweight boxing title fight on U.S. soil in recent memory last May 2014. Both men had previously fought in a title eliminator bout a year earlier which Stiverne won by decision. The 36 year old Stiverne fought the best fight of his career and defeated Arreola via 6th round knockout to bag his first ever world title. And before he could even savor the victory, the WBC ordered him to fight his mandatory challenger and arch enemy Deontay Wilder.
Won’t Go Past Four
Deontay Wilder is the last male U.S Olympic boxing medalist. The 29 year old challenger was a bronze medalist during the 2008 Beijing Olympics and has compiled an impressive 32-0 (32 KOs) record as a professional boxer. But despite his fearsome record, Wilder is virtually untested as a pro. He’s gone the full four rounds just once in his entire career and has fought just a total of 58 rounds. Of his 32 knockouts, 18 have come in the first round and 8 in the second round. In March of last year, Wilder fought what was supposed to be his toughest bout to date against the highly touted Malik Scott. But Wilder disposed of Scott in just 96 seconds and followed that up with a 4th round TKO win over Jason Gavern. Wilder promises that Stiverne won’t go past four rounds with him, but the champion is not a walkover for Wilder.
Virtually Undefeated Too
Since falling to unknown Demetrice King in 2007, Stiverne has been on a tear and has become one of the best heavyweights in the planet. He’s won 12 of his last thirteen fights with 10 knockouts and the only blot in his record has been a majority draw with Charles Davis in 2009. Like Wilder, Stiverne has impressive knockout power and has stopped 21 out of 24 defeated opponents. Of those 21 KOs, 18 came within the first three rounds including 14 in round 1. While Wilder has done a lot of talking in the months leading to their fight, Stiverne says he’ll do his talking inside the ring when he knocks out his challenger and makes a statement to the whole world.
Watch and Don’t Blink
This fight is a must for all boxing fans who have been waiting for the heavyweight division to return to the top. Boxing has been dominated by the lower weight classes in the last two decades and this is the one marquee matchup that should be worth the long wait. With both men knocking out 95% of their total combined opponents, this fight isn’t expected to go the distance since both men genuinely hate each other outside the ring. With all these factors coming together, this one is more than a “can’t miss” fight. It’s more of “can’t blink” because it can end at any second after that opening bell rings.