The expected knockout didn’t happen, but Deontay Wilder (33-0, 32 KOs) became the first American heavyweight fighter since Shannon Briggs to win a piece of the heavyweight crown by jabbing his way to a 12-round unanimous decision over Bermane Stiverne (24-2-1, 16 KOs) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV. Saturday night.
The scores were 118-109, 119-108 and 120-107.
Maxboxing and Doghouseboxing had Wilder winning the match 118-110.
Wilder established his strategy in the first round. He stabbed Stiverne with his left a number of times. Stiverne stalked but did little else. A right at the bell hurt Stiverne.
In round two, Stiverne continued to eat jabs. Wilder used his height (6’7”) and reach. He moved slightly and stayed out of danger. Wilder unloaded a number of thudding right hands. Stiverne absorbed them. He landed a left, but Wilder was still in control. A big right staggered Stiverne for the second time in the bout.
Wilder connected with sweeping right hands in round three. Stiverne caught Wilder with a hook. He worked the body. Wilder landed a left and right. He was busier and consistently more effective.
Wilder snapped Stiverne’s head back with lefts in rounds four and five. Three right hooks by Wilder connected. Stiverne countered with a left that landed. A long right also found the chin of Wilder. Stiverne went to the body and head. Wilder had answered the questions about his chin.
Stiverne used his own jab in round six. He went back to the body. A combination found Wilder’s chin again. Wilder battled back in the last minute of the round to rattle Stiverne.
The defending champion hurt Wilder in round seven, but couldn’t land more than two punches.
Wilder moved and boxed. His combination stopped Stiverne in his tracks. He motioned for Wilder to bring it on. Stiverne was talking to Wilder as the round ended. His lack of quickness was hurting him. Wilder went back to working jab in rounds seven and eight. Stiverne was wobbled by a huge right hand. Wilder unloaded a number of wicked shots to the head. Stiverne’s chin was holding up, but he couldn’t do anything to hurt Wilder. A right landed, but Wilder took it well.
Stiverne found himself being dominated in rounds 10 and 11. Wilder circled and boxed. His agility and boxing ability were the key. There was no quit in the soon to be ex-champion, but he couldn’t land a game-changing shot. The challenger had banked so many rounds that he could afford to coast a little.
In round 12, Wilder started fast by sharpshooting Stiverne. Wilder stayed close and smothered Stiverne. He had fought an intelligent fight.
“I’m so excited to bring this belt back to America,” said the jubilant Wilder in the ring. “I’m excited. We knew Stiverne was tough. He’s got a nice chin.”
“It wasn’t my night,” said Stiverne. “ I couldn’t cut off the ring. I was flat in the ring.”