The first televised boxing action of 2015 features one of the rarest events in modern boxing, a World title Heavyweight clash that doesn’t involve a Klitschko.
Stiverne vs Wilder, Saturday night 2.30am, BoxNation
If you just look at the statistics, Deontay Wilder is a terrifying man. An Olympic bronze medalist from Beijing 2008, he turned professional later that year, knocking out Ethan Cox in two rounds.
Since then, the finishes have never stopped, with 31 more opponents all failing to hear the final bell. 32 fights, 32 stoppages, plus Wilder has only been past the third round three times, and has never competed in round five of a fight.
Averaging just 1.8 rounds per fight throughout his career, the self-proclaimed “Bronze Bomber” is unarguably one of the most powerful boxers in the world.
The statistics however don’t tell the whole story. Although any undefeated record has to be respected, the calibre of Wilder’s opponents has long been criticised, with the best names on his mantle fellow American Malik Scott who many feel went down far too early during their March 2014 bout, and Audley Harrison who lasted just 70 seconds against the American in April 2013.
A theory that has long been brewing in the eyes of some boxing cynics is that perhaps the chin of Wilder is questionable, an idea that stretches back to his October 2010 fight against journeyman Harold Sconiers who knocked Wilder down during the fight.
If Wilder does have below average punch resistance, his opponent on Saturday night, the 36-year-old Bermane Stiverne is the man to test it out.
The Don King promoted 24-1-1 Stiverne won the WBC heavyweight title in May against Chris Arreola, his second successive win against the tough American.
Of Stiverne’s 24 wins, 21 have been via stoppage, although his victores except for the Arreola brace have been against mediocre opponents, and his lone defeat in July 2007 was a fourth round TKO loss to the then 11-15 Demetrice King.
While there are many questions about whether Wilder can handle five rounds, let alone 12, Stiverne has been very inactive despite being the world champion, having only fought three times since June 2011, and he only averages 3.38 rounds a fight.
The bookies can barely split them, with the best odds for Wilder around 8/13, and for Stiverne 7/4. One thing is for certain, the fight is not expected to go the distance, with odds of 9/2 for that to happen. Despite the power both men possess, that might not be the most ridiculous suggestion, as many heavyweight bouts in the past which have expected to finish early have often been cagey affairs, and neither man can afford to make a mistake for fear of being knocked out clean.
Whoever wins, it is refreshing to have a North American based fight in the top weight class of boxing which has piqued the interest of fans all over the world, harking back to the glory days of the sixties and seventies.
Chief support in Las Vegas is a WBC super bantamweight world title match between the undefeated 28-0 Leo Santa Cruz and Mexico’s 33-5-5 Jesus Ruiz.
Santa Cruz was seen as a possible superstar a few years ago, but a series of lacklustre fights against average opponents has seen his stock drop significantly, and he will look to make a statement here ahead of potential showdowns with British pair Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg, or the mercurial Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Ruiz is a massive 22-1 underdog, and has already had 43 professional fights despite being just 25-years-old, including five draws.
Also on the undercard is intriguing undefeated light welterweight Amir Imam, who puts his 14-0 record on the line against Texas based banger Fidel Maldonado Jr whose last five victories have come via stoppage.Reuse content