The best heavyweight bout featuring an American since Klitschko/Arreola in 2009 is this Saturday on ShowTime.
Undefeated WBC Continental Americas champion Deontay Wilder (32-0-0, 32 KOs) has yet to make it past the fourth round with an opponent. The knockout specialist has KO’d 18 opponents in the first round, including proven fighters such as Malik Scott, Siarhei Liakhovich, Audley Harrison, and Kertson Manswell. Wilder packs a powerful punch in his 6’7, 260-pound frame. Built like an Alabama defensive end, the Tuscaloosa native puts his incredible reach to good use with devastating straight rights to the enemy’s dome. Wilder’s 1-2 left jab/right hook combo has put many opponents to sleep.
He can get a little carried away at times, swinging his fists like clubs to batter the opponent’s defenses. This can leave him open to counters, although usually his opponents are too busy trying to stay up to take advantage. I’ve always wanted to see Wilder face off against a truly elite defensive boxer, one who can endure Wilder’s barrages and take him to the late rounds. Bermane Stiverne could be that boxer.
Stiverne is a matchless defensive boxer, in my opinion, and a good reason why is his near-invulnerability upstairs. His sole loss was a TKO where the ref stopped the fight after Stiverne took too many blows to the head, but he didn’t seem fazed at all and argued with the official as the call was made. When B-WARE fought Chris Arreola this past May, he again took fierce barrages to the head – yet he remained upright, perched on the ropes, waiting for a sweet shot to the temple. He found that sweet shot in Round 6 and Arreola was knocked out later that round.
This fight is a perfect match-up: one of the hardest punchers in professional boxing vying against one of the toughest boxers in professional boxing. If the fight goes to the late rounds, things could take a turn for the worse for the Bronze Bomber, who lacks the experience and possibly the stamina to go deep into the fight with a veteran like Stiverne. On the other hand, Stiverne’s tendency to allow punches through could mean a short fight if his legendary fortitude doesn’t hold up.
Whoever wins this fight will likely fight Wladimir Klitschko in the biggest heavyweight unification bout since Lennox Lewis/Evander Holyfield II back in 1999. If Wilder can pull it out Saturday, he’ll be one step closer to becoming an American heavyweight legend – and possibly restore some prominence to the sport as well. Whatever happens, the eyes of the boxing community will be watching this Saturday at 10pm EST.
Junior featherweight titlist and FirstAndMonday favorite Leo Santa Cruz (28-0-1, 16 KOs) will also make his fourth title defense that night, against Jesus Ruiz (33-5-5, 22 KOs). I fully expect Santa Cruz to roll here against the journeyman Ruiz, and boxing fans should be more interested in Santa Cruz’s next fight. Oscar De La Hoya has expressed an interest in pairing up Santa Cruz against Abner Mares, which would be one of the more interesting featherweight bouts to happen in a while. Mares (28-1-1, 15 KOs) is fun to watch.
For more information about the fight this Saturday check out Showtime’s Boxing Blog. FirstAndMonday will bring you a recap of the main event and all televised under cards on the Monday following the fight.