The most anticipated heavyweight fight in a decade is now two days. Will Bermane Stiverne assert his dominance in the Heavyweight division and justify his reign as champion? Or will Deontay Wilder prove he does live up to the hype and is the future of boxing?
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It’s a tough fight to call no matter which way you look at it, the only point people are agreeing on is that this fight won’t go the distance.
When I first saw this match-up, I thought it would be entertaining, but Wilder wasn’t polished enough to beat Stiverne. The more I’ve researched this fight, re-watched their old fights and spoke to members of each fighter’s camps, the more I’m rethinking that initial stance.
Below are some of the main discussion points and my thoughts regarding them.
Deontay is taking too big of a step-up, he hasn’t fought enough quality opposition yet
Initially I thought the same, but when you look at Bermane Stivernes record, except for Chris Arreola, his track record is very similar to Wilders. In fact their common opponent, Kertson Manswell, although only lasting 2 rounds with Stiverne, was TKO’d in 1 by Wilder.
Wilder doesn’t know how to use that jab
12 months ago, this was right. If you remember Wilder’s two Friday Night Fight appearances, Teddy Atlas pointed out how Deontay would lunge forward and open himself up with his jab, it was big, slow and cumbersome. In more recent fights Wilders jab has tightened up incredibly, he’s showing signs that he can coast the outside and keep his distance until the opportunity to drop his big shots arrives.
Paulie Malignaggi pointed out recently that Wilder has developed a routine of getting some traction with the jab, the throwing a slower left hook distracting his opponent just long enough to unleash his monstrous right hand. It’s solid, but Stiverne should be able to pick it off.
Wilder only has his right, Stiverne will neutralise it
On two of his most recent fights, Wilder has won with left hooks. He’s noted publicly he wanted to bring its power up closer to the right. This doesn’t mean it will drop Stiverne. I think Bermane will see it coming and have a response, but it will take its toll.
Wilder can’t box or go the distance, he will get frustrated and rush in to get KO’d
This is a very real possibility. We haven’t seen Wilder go past 4 rounds and he was noted early on as being rough around the edges. However he’s spent a long time now working with Mark Breland, considered by many to be one of the greatest amateurs the US ever produced.
Beyond that Wilder has been sparring with everyone who can benefit him including the one fighter to beat Stiverne, Demetrice King. Further to this, clips of Wilder getting tips from Lennox Lewis have been circulating YouTube albeit they are a couple of years now, but it shows the support behind him and his drive to develop.
Does this mean he can box? His last few fights have shown glimpses but does this mean he can go the distance and not get frustrated? He might be the best conditioned athlete in the division, but that’s no guarantee.
Wilder has a weak chin and no defence
The rumours around his chin start from one fight where he was dropped, but not KO’d. In fact he went on to win the bought. Questions of his defence are justified if for no other reason than he has never had to yet. Once again we can only speculate on what Breland has been teaching him, but being taught the best defence in the world doesn’t mean he will be able to apply it right.
Ultimately I think Stiverne’s game plan will be to push a few rounds and get Wilder frustrated hoping he will rush in and then finish him like he did Chris Arreola.
Conversely I think Wilder will try to use his jab, reach and height more than any other fight. He will go looking for a KO in rounds 4-6 when he believes Bermane is settling in.
Both fighters have been shown to be momentarily susceptible to an initial rush from their opponents, but with the pressure of this occasion, I believe both fighters will avoid it.
If this is the case, expect those middle rounds to be absolute fireworks. We are definitely going to find out who has the harder chin and who drops the bigger bombs.