FROM SHOWTIME BOXING ANALYST STEVE FARHOOD
Forget the joy of contracting frostbite at Times Square. This is the way to bring in the New Year.
On Saturday night, WBC Heavyweight World Champion Bermane Stiverne will defend against unbeaten Deontay Wilder in what will surely stand among the most anticipated and significant fights of 2015.
Stiverne-Wilder will be the first heavyweight title fight broadcast on SHOWTIME in more than six years, or since Vitali Klitschko defeated Sam Peter in Berlin.
Should Wilder win, he’ll become the first American heavyweight titlist since Joe Louis.
Well, that’s not quite accurate, but it sure seems that way.
Stiverne-Wilder is an explosive showdown of punchers. It’s not difficult to make an argument for both fighters.
WHY STIVERNE WILL KNOCK OUT WILDER
1. DIFFERENT LEVEL: A rise in class? Given the quality of his victims to date, Wilder will be attempting to jump from one side of the Grand Canyon to the other. Stiverne has proven his toughness in twice beating legit contender Chris Arreola. Wilder, on the other hand, has scored 32 kayos in 32 fights, steamrolling mostly overmatched or overaged opponents. A scary thought: For the challenger, it’s late in the game to be facing the first heavyweight who actually has a chance to beat him.
2. HEARING BELLS: The curse of a puncher: Wilder’s never been past four rounds. Stiverne’s been eight rounds or longer four times. What happens if the bell rings for round nine or 10? Wilder’s always in top shape, but until you’ve done it …
3. MOTIVATION: Wilder has much to prove, but this is Stiverne’s chance to validate his status as a titlist. Moreover, Wlad Klitschko is universally regarded as the No. 1 heavyweight in the world, and a win over Wilder could land Stiverne a megamillion-dollar unification bout vs. Dr. K.
4. TAKING IT: Wilder hasn’t proven his ability to absorb punishment because he’s rarely been touched, much less struck. In October 2010, he was dropped by an uppercut in a bout vs. a sub-.500 fighter named Harold Sconiers. It’s a safe assumption that Stiverne hits harder than Sconiers.
5. UNHAPPY NEW YEAR: On January 1, Ohio State upset Alabama by a score of 42-35 in the College Football Playoffs Semifinals.
Wilder is from Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
WHY WILDER WILL KNOCK OUT STIVERNE
1. SIZE-WISE: Wilder has an advantage in height, reach, and athleticism. He can box at a distance that will trouble Stiverne. In fact, that’ll probably be his exact game plan. Look for Stiverne to walk in with his hands held high, and Wilder to at least initially limit the power exchanges and gladly bank rounds. If the fight indeed ends by kayo, Wilder will likely be ahead on points at the time of the stoppage.
2. FINISHING TOUCH: Criticize the quality of Wilder’s opposition if you choose (and most of us choose to do exactly that), but the fact remains that he’s kayoed 32 consecutive opponents. Anyone who doubts the legitimacy of his power is making a mistake in judgment. If Wilder’s right hand lands first, Stiverne might not have the opportunity to land at all.
3. WHO’S MOVING UP?: Sure, Wilder’s never faced anybody the quality of Stiverne. But remove Arreola from the defending titlist’s record and Stiverne has beaten up on the same caliber of opposition. In fact, Stiverne has never faced anybody quite like Wilder either.
4. BUSY IS BEST: Wilder’s been far more visible, and that feeds both his confidence and sharpness. Conversely, Stiverne is a graduate of the Andre Ward/Mikey Garcia School of Ring Activity: Only one fight in 2014. Only one fight in 2013. Only one fight in 2012 …
Enjoy the fight. And don’t dare blink!