Stiverne Defends WBC Heavyweight Title Against Hard-Hitting Wilder

By: Jake Collins (@Melancholyfolly)

Bermane Stiverne will be defending his WBC Heavyweight strap against 100% KO artist Deontay Wilder this Saturday in Las Vegas. This will be Stiverene’s first defence and also the first time a heavyweight title has been defended by someone not of Eastern European descent for quite some time. It’s an interesting fight for a number of reasons, not just that we have a world heavyweight title fight that doesn’t involve a Klitschko.

Whilst winning a the title was a monumental achievement for Stiverne – the fact remains that it was indeed a vacant one, so the chance to be able to defend it will be just as fulfilling and allow him to prove his credentials across the boxing community. For Wilder, he can prove his various doubters (which includes me) wrong and show that there genuinely could be a new mercurial force in the top division. Whichever approach you take, it’s an intriguing bout simply down to the questions it can potentially answer.

One gripe I do have about this fight however, is that I don’t personally think these two should be fighting for a world title at all. Not that I think neither of them have worked assiduously enough to get there; the quality of both is – at best – unproven or simply not up to scratch. To go back a fight, should Stiverne and Arreola have been fighting for the vacant belt in the first place? Perhaps the WBC was eager to have a North American world champion again. Either way, there were plenty of other boxers who deserved that more.

Stiverne’s two best victories were both against Chris Arreola. Arreola is relatively decent, but he shouldn’t be the best name on a world champion’s list of victims. He got TKO’d earlyish in his career, that is his only loss to date. The last fight against Arreola was an entertaining fight and had a fierce ending to boot. Beyond that, no one else really stands out as a notable victory. Which is a moderately similar story to Wilder…

Wilder’s biggest win, was his first round demolition of fringe contended Malik Scott. Now I don’t mean to sound like David Icke in a tin hat here, but that KO did look a little bit unbelievable to me. None of the punches landed looked like they should make any boxer drop to the canvas. Perhaps he really does hit that hard, but I’m not buying it. Beyond that, we have unremarkable victories against past-peak Audley Harrison and Siarhei Laikhovich. Recognisable names, but forgettable fighters. There’s a lot of debate about Wilder’s chin as well. There’s videos of his amateur days where is is KO’d (and shook various times). That was quite some time ago I will concede, but he’s been shaken and down in the pro game as well. Harold Sconiers putting him down 13 fights into his career for example. That’s not to say he won’t retire with a record of 78 (78) -0-0 but it really isn’t a strong indicator for a ‘contender’ who is really only facing someone truly ranked for the first time.

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