I think it’s safe to say that the boxing world saw a star being born last Saturday night with American heavyweight Deontay Wilder (33-0, 32 KOs) bringing in huge ratings on Showtime Championship Boxing in his fight against WBC heavyweight champion Bermane Stiverne (24-2-1, 21 KOs) in their fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Wilder-Stiverne fight brought in a reported average of 1.24 million viewers with a peak of 1.34 million viewers, making it the second best Showtime audience since the Cotto-Trout fight three years ago. What’s particularly impressive about Wilder’s ratings is he did it against a heavyweight who isn’t that well-known in the United States, and who likely didn’t bring much to the table in terms of fans.
Wilder kind of did it on his own in attracting the fans, and that’s pretty impressive. One can only imagine the ratings that Wilder will get when he starts facing guys like Wladimir Klitschko and Tyson Fury.
Wilder got a little bit a help in the Showtime broadcast with WBC super bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz performing on the card in a mismatch against a fighter named Jesus Ruiz. However, there wasn’t much buzz about the Santa Cruz-Ruiz fight before or after the fight, so you have to figure that Santa Cruz didn’t bring a whole lot to the card due to the non-competitive nature of his fight with Ruiz.
With ratings like this, Wilder could develop into a pay-per-view attraction in the near future if he can keep winning his fights. He probably needs at least three good scalps from the likes of Klitschko, Fury, and Alexander Povetkin before he’ll be popular enough to transfer over to a pay-per-view fighter.
Of course, it will also depend on the guys that Wilder faces if and when he beats those three. But if he keeps knocking guys out and stays injury free in his fights, he could develop into a Mike Tyson type of heavyweight attraction in the near future.
Wilder suffered a broken right hand early in the Stiverne fight, and he was forced to fight with the injury the remainder of the way. You can look at that injury as the major reason why Wilder didn’t score a knockout in the fight, because he had Stiverne ready to be stopped in the 7th round.
If Wilder had continued to drop big right hand bombs to the head of Stiverne after the 7th, it’s very likely that he would have gotten Stiverne out of there without any problems. There’s only so much punishment that a heavyweight can take, and Stiverne was on his way to being bludgeoned into submission until Wilder slowed down with his right hands due to his hand injury.
What you have to hope is that Wilder doesn’t start finding himself getting avoided by the top heavyweights in the division instead of being sought out. I know Fury has been flapping his gums lately about wanting to fight Wilder, but then in the next instant Fury talks of wanting to fight Wladimir. That tells me that Fury may be making excuses for not wanting to get in the ring with Deontay and risking his hide against him.