In the main event on Showtime, Bermane Stiverne defended his WBC heavyweight crown against Alabaman Deontay Wilder. Stiverne was too passive throughout, but credit has to go to Wilder, and trainer Mark Breland, for his jab-happy strategy, which helped keep a plodding Stiverne at bay. Most expected a KO win, by someone, but Breland told TSS before his kid could and might get a decision 12 win. On the mark, Mark; Wilder had stamina and smarts, and went the distance with focus and enough jabs to keep Stiverne from getting set and getting off. The judges saw it 118-109, 119-108, 120-107.
Stiverne plodded after Wilder listlessly, walked him down but never cut him off at the pass. It was mildly infuriating to watch, if you’re a Stiverne fan.
Stiv (24-1-1 with 21 KOs; born in Haiti, lives in Vegas; age 36; 6-2) was 239 on Friday, while Wilder (32-0 with 32 KOs; lives in Alabama; won bronze in 08 Olympics; 29; 6-7) was 219.
In the first, Wilder won with a constant jab. Stiv waited and watched and walked him down. Deontay landed a couple rights, nothing ferocious. In the second, down went Stiv at the bell. He ate a few, after being jabbed all round, and luckily he tackled Deontay, so he didn’t lose 10-8.
In the third, we saw body work from Stiv. The distance between them closes and Wilder missed wide a couple times. But he won the round.
In the fourth, Stiv got busier, nastier, on a Wilder who was slowing down. The jab was pawed now by Wilder, too much. A left hook, on replay, showed to land hard and clean on Wilder. In the fifth, Wilder had a comeback round. His jab popped more and he dropped a couple rights which bothered Stiv. A counter left hook missed widely by Stiv. He was too passive and that would continue.
In the sixth, a left hook buzzed Wilder. He was looking more tired, as his jab dropped off. “Keep him in the center of the ring, he’s tired as hell,” trainer Mark Breland told Deontay. In the seventh, a right buzzed Stiv. It was a straight right. Then he yapped at the big man. Was he getting broken down? In the eighth, both men had some moments.
In the ninth, Wilder was jabbing, with good energy. The Stiv corner told him he was “way behind.” In the tenth, Stiverne worked some. He landed a right, when he stepped right and hurled, late.
In the 11th, the jab was pumped by Wilder. Stiv wasn’t in need to win mode. He never really was.
In the 12th, Stiv attacked with some fire, but barely. They traded some, and gave the Wilder people a heart attack but the big man survived.
Photo credit : Esther Lin/SHOWTIME