Deontay Wilder (32-0, 32 KOs) aims to earn his first world title in one of the most anticipated heavyweight showdowns in America in quite some time. Many Americans are hopeful this brash and devastating knockout puncher can spark their interest in one of the most illustrious divisions in the sport of boxing.
Despite Wilder’s huge support from the American public, there are still many people who perceive him as another hype job who was constantly fed below average opponents, and will be exposed come Saturday night by the more experienced fighter Bermane Stiverne (24-1-1, 21 KOs). Stiverne believes Wilder is a fraud, and plans to put an end to all the hype by scoring an early devastating knockout victory.
There is much debate on who will be the WBC heavyweight champion by the end of the night, but it’s universally agreed upon that the match won’t go the distance.
Here is the Breakdown of the Fight.
Wilder stands at 6’6½ with an 83 inch reach. He will have the size advantage over Stiverne whose stature is 6’2 with an 80 inch reach. Wilder’s height and reach advantage will be a big factor in the fight given the style of each fighter.
Wilder knows how to utilize his physical gifts by throwing his combinations from a safe distance, and has shown defensive awareness at the professional level of not lunging in and being able to step back out of harm’s way. Stiverne being a conservative natural counter puncher may have a difficult time landing his punches from long range.
Wilder has tremendous power. His record stands at 32 wins with 32 knockouts with none of his bouts surpassing the 4th round. Despite his low level of competition, it’s still an impressive feat. The way he’s been knocking out the majority of opponents have convinced many he can send Stiverne to the canvas. Stiverne has proven to be a sturdy fighter, but he needs to steer clear from Wilder’s monstrous right hands to avoid being stunned or knocked out.
As far as Wilder’s chin goes, it’s still up for debate. There are some skeptics who point towards a short clip of him being stunned by David Haye during a sparring session but even fighters such as Mike Tyson have been down in sparring. It’s not a rare anomaly of fighters willing to take more risks during sparring matches due to the headgear and bigger gloves being used which may leave them more susceptible to being stunned by a big punch. The short clip doesn’t really validate if Wilder does in fact have a weak or sturdy chin.
Then there’s the infamous clip of Wilder being dropped several times in an amateur contest, but yet again it’s not enough to vindicate the stigma of having a weak chin. The reason why is due to the fact, former heavyweight top contender David Tua also suffered a similar fate of being TKO’d in the amateurs, but went on to have 59 professional fights in the heavyweight division and not once ever being knocked out.
This isn’t to disprove Wilder has a weak chin, but to show there’s not enough evidence to label his durability quite yet. Nonetheless one has to remember if Stiverne catches anyone flush most people would go down regardless if they have good chin or not.
Stiverne has tremendous power in either hand. He has the ability to put most heavyweights down as his 80% knockout ratio indicates. Stiverne’s strongest punches are the compact hooks he likes to throw on the inside.
People have speculated that the winner is going to be whoever lands his big shot first, but Stiverne’s durability should enable him to withstand Wilder’s punches a lot better than his previous opponents who have folded in four rounds or less. Stiverne can be hurt as he was against Chris Arreola or Demetrice King, but his durability should allow him to withstand some of Wilder’s punches early on.
Wilder’s offense normally derives from long range. He tends to establish his jab early in the bout, and waits for the right opportunities to launch a devastating right hand, or his preferred combination which is a left hook followed by a right, which is an effective two punch combination against a fighter such as Stiverne who tends to remain in a high guard.
Wilder’s ability to utilize his height and reach should allow him to land punches from a safe distance, and outwork the very conservative Stiverne. Wilder doesn’t posses great countering abilities, but doesn’t necessarily have to in this fight. The fighter who gets off first will probably win the majority of the rounds.
The only true weakness in Wilder’s offensive game is on the inside. He has not show great ability to fight in the phone booth, but Stiverne is not the type of fighter who will put continuous pressure all three minutes of every round. He may do it in a few spurts, but certainly not enough to win rounds if he is unable to hurt his opponent.
Stiverne is a conservative fighter but also a great counterpuncher. He shows great offensive ability from close range, and in the pocket. Unfortunately for Stiverne, the majority of the fight will take place at long range which will be a huge advantage for Wilder, but this doesn’t mean Stiverne doesn’t have a chance to land big shots.
In his fight against Ray Austin, Stiverne was losing the majority of the rounds against the much taller and more active fighter. The range was a huge issue, but whenever Austin made the mistake of lunging in or staying in the pocket Stiverne would have his moments.
In order for Stiverne to utilize his great power, he will have to capitalize whenever Wilder lunges in, or when both fighters are at close range. Stiverne can also try and land a leaping left hook from a distance, which is a punch he has shown to use at times against a taller fighter, similar to that of Joe Frazier’s leaping left hook that knocked down Muhammad Ali.
Stiverne also possesses a good stiff jab, which may negate Wilder’s jab at times, but not enough to completely neutralize it.
Wilder is an underrated defensive fighter. He knows how to maintain a safe range when throwing combinations to keep himself from getting countered, and his athletic ability allows him to quickly step back to avoid punches. This will make it a bit difficult for Stiverne to land his big shots. Its bad enough Wilder has the reach and height advantage, but since Wilder uses subtle footwork to avoid punches it will cause a lot of problems for Stiverne.
The only defensive liability Wilder has is on the inside. He doesn’t have a great smothering technique, or have the instinct to initiate a hard clinch. If a fighter really wants to break through Wilder’s clinch they probably can. Fortunately for Wilder the majority of the bout will take place at a distance, but he will always have to be wary of a leaping left hook, and short compact punches on the inside.
Stiverne has shown to have decent defensive ability. He has displayed good head movement to avoid certain punches from the outside while setting up countering opportunities at the same time.
Stiverne also has an effective high guard defense that works very well on the inside. He does a great job of catching a punch on his glove in close range and firing right back with his own shot.
The only issue Stiverne has is the fact that he is too flatfooted. This leaves him vulnerable to a fighter with good reach who knows how to maintain distance such as Wilder. Stiverne may be able to avoid plenty of punches from the outside with his high guard, and good head movement, but it can be very dangerous remaining too flatfooted in the center of the ring or against the ropes against a big puncher. His unwillingness to constantly apply heavy pressure, and wait for his opponents to come to him at times may be his downfall in the fight.
Many people have criticized Wilder for his lack of opposition in the professional ranks and rightfully so. He hasn’t faced a fighter with a great track record, or who has forced him into the later rounds. There are certain questions regarding his chin, durability, and heart. But one thing people have to keep in mind is the fact Wilder started boxing around the age of 20 but still managed to win both the National Golden Gloves and US National Championship. He also went on to win a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics which is quite remarkable. One doesn’t earn those accolades without having a good foundation of technical skills, and he’s continued to show a growth in maturity and boxing abilities in the pro game. This can be partly credited to his trainer Mark Breland who is a former gold medalist.
Breland being a former welterweight champion in his heyday stood at 6’2 thus giving him a size advantage over the majority of his opponents similar to the one Wilder tends to experience in the heavyweight division, so it’s a perfect combination of trainer and fighter. One can definitely see the similarities between Breland and Wilder in terms of their fighting style in the ring.
Stiverne doesn’t have a great record. His only notable wins are the two against Chris Arreola to earn the vacant WBC title, but despite that, some of his opponents have forced him into certain situations where he had to show certain intangibles every champion needs. In his bout against Ray Austin, he showed the ability to score a late round knockout while being behind in the scorecards. When Stiverne fought Arreola, he displayed the ability to recover after being stunned, and coming back to score a knockout victory. So even though Stiverne has not defeated many of the top elite fighters in his division, he certainly has much greater experience than Wilder.
Either man has a legitimate chance of winning this bout in a devastating knockout fashion. With that being said, Wilder has to be the slight favorite given the styles of each fighter.
Wilder has shown to have a decent jab, and the ability to land combinations from a safe distance. This will cause Stiverne’s countering opportunities to be limited due to his shorter reach and since his offensive output is relatively low, he will undoubtedly lose just about every round he doesn’t hurt Wilder. Stiverne’s best chance of winning is on the inside, but Wilder does a good job of maintaining distance, and Stiverne is not necessarily the most aggressive pressure fighter out there.
Even though both fighters are more than capable of scoring a knockout victory, Wilder should have more opportunities to land his devastating punches because his style and boxing ability suits him well for this fight. Wilder should become the next American heavyweight champion on Saturday night by scoring a 5th to 9th round TKO victory.