It has been nine long years since an American, Shannon Briggs held the WBO Heavyweight title – 25-30 yrs ago that would have been unheard of.
The MGM Grand in Las Vegas too has experienced a long absence since it hosted a Heavyweight title bout – the last championship fight was a hungry Mike Tyson snacking on Evander Holyfield’s ear – some 18 yrs ago.
I must admit like many I did back the Haitian born Bermaine “B Ware” Stiverne to win, citing Deontay “Bronze Bomber” Wilder’s lack of experience – how wrong I was.
The Tuscaloosan put on a jabbing clinic that Larry Holmes would have been proud of and nullified any threat from the WBC champion. The pre-fight talk was around who was going to land first and at the end of the second round it appeared that Stiverne was about to fold.
B Ware’s legs buckled as the 29 yr old landed a “bomb” that left the champion wobbling – resulting in a rugby/NFL take-down that floored both men after the bell sounded.
The Bronze Bomber never looked back and accelerated in to the lead on the cards as he entered uncharted territory; seeing the fifth round. As he waned towards the championship rounds, the fight was destined to go the distance with Wilder taking a majority decision – what were the odds??
“I think I answered a lot of questions tonight,” Wilder said.
“I already knew it. We knew we could go 12 rounds. We knew we could take a punch. We knew we could give it. All the hard word is done in camp.”
Whilst I was impressed with Wilder’s patience and notably his jab, I couldn’t help but feel his boxing ability has many holes that a top heavyweight would exposure. I don’t recall him throwing one meaningful body-shot, he swings erratically when he connects, which leaves him wide-open for a counter-punch.
For such a slender heavyweight (Stiverne weighed in 20lbs heavier) I would expect much slicker footwork & lateral movement, but how can you develop your ring-craft if you have nailed all of your 32 opponents inside four-rounds?
I’m pleased for Wilder as American Heavyweight boxing desperately needed a new poster-boy – crowned on Muhammed Ali’s 73rd birthday no-less. The All Access preview show documented the adversity the Bronze-Bomber has faced with his daughter’s health – I’m not ashamed to say tugged at my fellow parental instinct; the champion has secured her financial future.
For Stiverne, the 36 yr old will take sometime to reflect & regroup after a gruelling camp that commenced in August:
“It wasn’t my night,” Stiverne told Showtime’s Jim Gray after the fight.
“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.
So who is next for the newly crowned champion?
The likelihood being “Uncle Al” Haymon will move Deontay from ShowTime to his newly created PBC – (Premier Boxing Champions) schedule on NBC Sport and have at least one gimme outing as WBC champion.
Wilder never the shy & retiring type made no secret about who he wanted next:
‘I want Fury next, then Wladimir Klitschko for all the other titles by the end of this year.
‘Me and Tyson would be one helluva fight. We’re both big punchers and entertainers.
‘I would love to do it in the UK, where I’ve always enjoyed my visits. No problem for me.’
The UK is where the future of Heavyweight boxing is at – fights against Tyson Fury, David Price, Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte in the future can and will be huge. Not forgetting his former sparring partner David Haye – should he return of course.
I think he should give a unification fight with “Dr Steelhammer” Wladimir Klitschko a wide berth for the remainder of this year at the very least. The Ukrainian is King and the young Lions coming through have some way to go before they can consider dethroning him.
Heavyweight boxing has finally awoken from its deep sleep, it is showered, dressed and currently posing in the mirror with some sunglasses on before it steps outside….