Boxing: Deontay Wilder outpoints Bermane Stiverne to earn WBC heavyweight title
Last Updated: 18/01/15 7:00pm
Deontay Wilder became the first American to win a world heavyweight title since 2006 when he earned a unanimous 12-round decision over Bermane Stiverne on Saturday night.
Going deep into a fight for the first time in his career, Wilder controlled the fight with a strong left jab and big right hands up the middle as he piled up points early on his way to taking the WBC heavyweight title from his opponent.
The 2008 Olympic bronze medallist, who had never been past the fourth round in winning all 32 of his previous fights, emphatically answered any questions about his stamina as he comfortably outpointed his Canadian opponent.
One ringside judge gave Wilder every round, scoring it 120-107, and he won 119-108 and 118-109 on the other two scorecards.
"I'm going to bring excitement back to the heavyweight division," Wilder said. "I'm not going to sit around. Whoever is ready, I'm ready."
Ringside punch statistics showed Wilder's dominance, crediting him with landing 227 of 621 punches, including 120 of 420 jabs while Stiverne landed 110 of 327 punches, and only 38 jabs.
I'm going to bring excitement back to the heavyweight division. I'm not going to sit around. Whoever is ready, I'm ready.
It was the first heavyweight title fight at the MGM Grand since Mike Tyson bit off a piece of Evander Holyfield's ear in the infamous Bite Fight in 1997 and both were on hand to watch.
"I think I answered a lot of questions tonight," Wilder said. "We knew we could go 12 rounds, we knew we could take a punch."
The 29-year-old challenger used his huge reach advantage to keep Stiverne on the outside most of the night and made him pay the price when he came inside.
Wilder was unable to knock Stiverne down but staggered him several times, most notably in the seventh round when he landed a series of huge right hands and outlanded his opponent 23-4.
Stiverne was defending the title he won last May when he stopped another US fighter, Chris Arreola, in the sixth round after the now-retired Vitali Klitschko vacated the belt.
Even in uncharted territory past the fourth round, Wilder continued to control the fight, moving backward and throwing left jabs to keep Stiverne away.
But Stiverne kept coming, and his punches started landing more often as the fight entered the middle rounds.
"Come on, fight" Stiverne yelled at Wilder after hitting him with a left hook in the sixth round.
Both fighters tired toward the end of the bout, drawing some boos from the crowd but Wilder was still able to use his left jab to pile up points.
Clearly in need of a knockout, Stiverne tried to press Wilder in the 12th round, but he seemed too tired to do any real damage.
"I wasn't myself. I felt 100 per cent but I couldn't cut the ring off like I usually do," Stiverne said. "I was throwing hard punches but I could only throw two of them at a time.
“I wasn't able to do what I wanted to do in the ring tonight. I don't want to take anything away from him. He fought a great fight but I was not ready."
Wilder (33-0, 32 KOs), of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, couldn’t hide his delight afterwards at becoming the first American to hold a heavyweight title since Shannon Briggs in 2006.
"I'm so excited. I'm excited to bring this belt back to America, officially," Wilder said. It's going to mean a lot."
In the main bout of the undercard, Leo Santa Cruz stopped Jesus Ruiz in the eighth round to successfully defend his WBC super bantamweight title.
San Cruz (29-0) trapped the challenger on the ropes and fired away with both hands before the referee stepped in to stop it.