(Photo credit: Sumio Yamada) By John Stevens: Now that the dust has settled somewhat its time to have an unbiased appraisal of this WBC heavyweight title fight, look at the performances of each man, and see what the future potentially holds for them.
Firstly in my earlier post I was predicting a slug-fest. What we got wasn’t exactly that, but it certainly had its moments and it was always very interesting to watch. Stiverne, as I suspected, was the aggressor throughout, barely taking a step backwards whilst wilder was mostly back-peddling and working from the outside as Stiverne came marching in; and most effectively too I might add.
Wilder surprised me here as he has shown no indication previously of being able to box like that and obviously a lot of credit must go to Mark Breland in his corner for his schooling, as well as Wilder’s own natural coolness and ability in pulling it off so effectively.
Wilder showed a very nice jab here. At times it was sharp and punishing and at others it was more of a measuring stick, but it was one of those constant, irritating jabs that can really wear a fighter down and I was very impressed by his ability to control from a distance. He also showed surprising in-fighting skills when it came to it, and was also very alert and slick in terms of getting out of the way when Stiverne forced an attack.
I sensed frustration in Bermane throughout the fight, much as I did as when he fought Austin. It was obvious that Wilder’s constant movement and incessant jabbing was giving him big problems. He said after the fight that he felt ‘flat’ and wasn’t able to get his punches together and that’s a fair comment as he didn’t look quite right in there. However, we must not take anything away from Wilder’s performance as it was that more than anything else that negated all Bermane’s work.
Stiverne also seemed to have a lot of trouble cutting off the ring which is very surprising for a man of his experience. Most of the time he was just following Wilder around the ring which made it a lot easier for Wilder to stamp his obvious game plan on the fight. It reminded me somewhat of David Tua’s showing against Lennox Lewis. Stiverne was trying hard, but he just wasn’t performing. He did catch Wilder with a couple of ferocious shots however, and to his credit Deontay took them very well; proving his point that he can indeed take a good punch. As for Stiverne, he took some thunderous punches throughout and was definitely rocked a couple of times, but showed an incredible resilience and iron jaw.
Overall then you have to mark this down as a very impressive performance by Deontay Wilder. He controlled the fight throughout ( I scored it 8 rounds to 3 with 1 draw) and showed no signs of distress or discomfort in handling a man who was leagues above anyone else he’s fought thus far in terms of quality. Both men looked very tired toward the end but that’s only natural as this fight, whilst not fought as a furious pace, was still very intense. Where does each go from here? For Stiverne, he obviously has to go back and look at his performance. Humble in defeat, he showed a lot of class in the after fight interview. I suspect he will be back and when he does return I still see him as a major player in the division. Wilder has shown interest in Tyson Fury next and that will be a very interesting match up indeed. Aside from Fury there are plenty of other very tidy heavyweights out there who will make nice match ups for him.
As for Klitschko, providing he comes through his fight against Bryant Jennings, that will be a clash that is a mouth-watering proposition. It will be very interesting to watch where Wilder goes from here and there’s definitely some exciting times ahead in the HW division. Congratulations are due to the man for putting in a measured and perfectly executed performance here. Commiserations to Stiverne whom I suspect will be doing plenty of soul searching right now as he ponders where it all went wrong.