By Ian S Palmer
Unbeaten WBC Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder will be defending his crown against Bermane Stiverne of Haiti in a rematch at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York this Saturday, November 4th. The contest can be seen live in the UK on Sky Sports and American fans can catch it on the Showtime Network. The two originally met in January of 2015 with Wilder winning a wide unanimous decision by scores of 118-109, 119-108 and 120-107. wilder last fought in February when he stopped Gerald Washington in the fifth round. Stiverne hasn’t fought since November of 2015 when he beat Deric Rossy by a 10-round unanimous decision.
Wilder beat former WBC champ Stiverne to claim the title and he’s been the champion ever since. Before running into Stiverne, Wilder had stopped all 32 of his opponents including Malik Scott and Audley Harrison. The 32-year-old Wilder of Tuscaloosa, Alabama will climb into the ring with a perfect record of 38-0 along with 37 Kos and will be defending his title for the sixth time. Therefore, Stiverne is still the only man who has gone the distance with him.
Wilder is a former Olympic bronze medalist who became the first American in close to a decade to own a portion of the heavyweight title when he beat Stiverne. That victory made him the first American heavyweight since 2007 to win a world belt with Shannon Briggs being the last to do it. Wilder is basically best known for two things, which are his size and his power. He stands 6-feet-7-inches tall, has an 83-inch reach, and has stopped everybody but his opponent on Saturday night.
The champion has 112 rounds under his belt since turning pro in 2008 and his knockout ratio currently stands at 97 per cent. Just five of his 37 Ko victims have made it past the fourth round. However, they were all his last five opponents; Washington, Eric Molina, Johann Duhaupas, Artur Szpilka and Chris Arreola. And let’s not forget Stiverne was his previous opponent and went the distance with him, so perhaps Wilder’s power is waning?
Stiverne will turn 39 years old just three days before the fight. He hasn’t fought for two years and has boxed just once since losing to Wilder well over two-and-a-half-years ago. So the question that needs to be asked here is how did Stiverne get another title shot as he hasn’t been active? He was scheduled to meet Alexander Povetkin or Russia last year, but the fight was called off when Povetkin failed a drug test. Povetkin also failed a drug test earlier in the year before a scheduled fight with Wilder.
Stiverne is a the former WBC and is now based in Las Vegas and also spends some time in Canada.
He’ll climb into the ring with an impressive record of 25-2-1 along with 21 Kos. He lost his title in a spirited fight against Wilder, but after the bout claimed he was suffering from dehydration. Stiverne’s other loss was a fourth-round stoppage by Demetrice King in July of 2007. The Haitian stands 6-feet-2-inches tall and has a wingspan of 76 inches, giving up five inches in height and seven inches in reach to the champ.
He has 107 rounds under his belt since turning pro in 2005 and has an impressive knockout of 75 per cent. Stiverne has beaten the likes of Ray Austin and Chris Arreola twice and he has a pretty solid chin despite being stopped once. In addition, his boxing skills are generally underrated by many. Being inactive for so long definitely won’t help him though, but he should have gained some confidence by going the distance with Wilder in their first meeting.
Wilder’s power may not be as evident as it once was, but it’s still there. Stiverne also has a heavy punch so there could be a knockdown or two along the way. In fact, Stiverne will likely have to deck Wilder to have any chance of winning this fight unless his boxing skills have improved dramatically over the last two years. Stiverne has a puncher’s chance here as Wilder’s chin still hasn’t really been tested, but the outcome will likely be the same as the first meeting, with Wilder perhaps being more motivated to stop Stiverne this time around.