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Putting heavyweights back on the boxing radar

Floyd Mayweather has a dark past that many seem happy to ignore. (AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN)
Roar Guru
31st December, 2014
3

This month has been a historical month for boxing. It has arguably been the best end to a questionable year that boxing has seen in over a decade.

Austin Trout returned to form and showed signs of reaching the elite level, Antonio Tarver knocked out Jonathan Banks after a very slow start and Amir Khan beat the perennial under-performer Devon Alexander.

Then three extremely controversial decisions set Teddy Atlas into an on-air tirade and clouded one of the most entertaining fights of the year (Tim Bradley versus Diego Chaves) and to top this off, one of the best announcements has been made for 2015.

It was already going to be a big year for boxing fans with Miguel Cotto versus Canelo Alvarez on the cards, rumours of Floyd Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao floating around and Anthony Mundine, Danny Geale and Billy Dib all getting back in the winner’s circle and looking to push the world stage again.

Beyond all of these very promising events we finally have what looks like some credibility back in the heavyweight division.

Confirmed through the week, WBC heavyweight world champion Bermane Stiverne (24-1-1, 21 KOs) will be fighting Deontay Wilder (32-0, 32 KOs) on Saturday January 17 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

The fight is live on Showtime in the US which means there is a chance it won’t be shown on Australian TV.

Don King Promotions is co-promoting the event with Golden Boy Promotions and will feature the exciting IBF Bantamweight World Champion Leo Santa Cruz (28-0-1, 16 KOs) on the undercard, who also noted this week that he will most likely fight Abner Mares in May – if this does come to fruition, don’t be surprised if we get a ‘Fight of the Year’ contender.

To sweeten the deal, Showtime Sports will be running their award-winning documentary series All Access the week prior to the fight, providing key insights and background information on both fighters and their preparation for the big event.

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The possibility of this fight should not be understated. It has been billed as “the most significant heavyweight match-up in the United States in a decade” and although that sounds like promoter hype, in all honestly it’s probably true.

Stiverne is battleworn and a proven top-tier heavyweight, he’s experienced and in his prime at 36 years of age. His most recent victory was in May over Chris Arreola, whom I spoke with exclusively during The Roar‘s live coverage of ESPN’s Night of Champions.

Stiverne won by TKO in the sixth round and put Arreola out of commission for the rest of the year. As Chris pointed out in our interview, he is still recovering from that fight and isn’t looking to enter the ring again until closer to halfway through 2015.

When discussing the upcoming fight with Wilder, Stiverne said “Don’t blink on January 17. I am the heavyweight champion of the world and nobody is going to beat me”.

His opponent Deontay Wilder is 29 years old, and has only once seen the back-end of the fourth round. He has destroyed all 32 of his opponents, but he has never fought someone of the calibre of Stiverne.

Wilder is the great American hope, he’s 6‘7” tall, fast, strong, and 200 pounds of muscle. He’s good looking, can speak well and is a family man who cares for his daughter suffering from Spina Bifida.

On top of all of this, he is American born and the only fighter around at the moment with the potential to bring the heavyweight spotlight back to the United States.

Realistically, this is a big step up for Wilder. He will have the height and reach advantage but I think Stiverne will have the advantage in experience, hand speed and movement and ring generalship.

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I’m not sure either fighter has the power advantage, but that doesn’t mean it’s neutralised. These are two of the biggest hitters in the game and both are considered knockout artists. I don’t expect this fight to go the distance.