The long wait is over.
Deontay Wilder ended the American heavyweight title drought. He became the first American to hold a heavyweight title since 2007. He dominated the defending champion Bermane Stiverne over the course of 12 rounds at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada. The scores were 118-109, 119-108, and 120-107 all for Wilder for the unanimous decision victory.
But it is still yet to be seen if the heavyweight division will get back its long lost grandeur.
The fight did not ended the way most boxing experts predicted. Consensus predictions suggest that either man will win via knockout. Both men have the power to knock its other out anytime of any round. But the knockout didn’t come. Wilder’s patience, commitment to fight from outside and Stiverne’s toughness, and somewhat limited performance tonight, made us heard the final bell.
Wilder (33-0, 32 KO’s) started the fight establishing his long stiff jabs. And his trademark one-two combination. In return, Stiverne (24-2-1, 21 KO’s) was a willing recipient to those jabs and one-two’s. He’s head movement was almost absent the entire fight. A crucial basic movement he almost abandoned. He showed extreme toughness, though, to withstand all those punishment. He hope to execute his catch-and-counter trademark move. But it appears to be a catch-and-catch with few counters that connects.
“It wasn’t my night. I felt 100 percent before the fight but once I got in the ring I couldn’t cut the ring, I couldn’t move my head like I usually do. What can I say? Congrats to him”, said Stiverne.
In the second frame, Wilder became more confident. His lead left jab and occasional one-two’s connects with precision. He opened up powerful lefts and rights that buckled Stiverne late in the round. Stiverne held to hang on. Both men fell down. The referee followed them to the floor, who tried to separate them as the bell sounded.
Stiverne got Round 4 following his significant body shots.
In the fifth round, Wilder appeared somewhat tired. It is his first time to come past Round 4. But his jabs and one-two’s still found its home on Stiverne’s head and body. He continued to work behind the jab. Stiverne tried to bait Wilder while leaning to the ropes, but Wilder wisely fired shots from outside and took a step back. Wilder shoot and shoot, while making Stiverne catch and catch.
In the seventh, Wilder once again wobbled Stiverne with his signature one-two and followed through with couple of power lefts and rights. But Stiverne was able to withstand the onslaught. He doubled it up while his back on the ropes and fired his own counters. It was a clear round for Wilder.
The remainder of the fight remained in this pattern; Wilder working behind the jab followed by straight right; Stiverne would cover up miss wildly with the counter hook but lands significant body shots. There’s really no period throughout the fight that either man is in real trouble getting knockout.
In the end, Wilder finally took part of heavyweight title back to America, wherein all other titles held by the Klitschko brothers.
“I’m just excited and happy to bring this belt back to America,” Wilder said. “It’s going to mean a lot. I think I answered a lot of questions tonight. We knew we could go 12 rounds. We knew we could take a punch. We knew we could do it.”