Las Vegas, NV (SportsNetwork.com) – Deontay Wilder became the first American
to win a heavyweight title in more than eight years when he earned a lopsided
decision over Bermane Stiverne for the WBC belt on Saturday night.
In a fight that wasn’t expected to go the distance, Wilder (33-0) seemed in
control for most of the 12 rounds against Stiverne (24-2-1) at MGM Grand.
The scorecards reflected that. Wilder easily won on each of them, capturing
his first major title by scores of 120-107, 119-108 and 118-109.
It was the first time in his 33 bouts as a professional that Wilder fought
past the fourth round and the first time he didn’t knock his opponent out.
Wilder, known as the “Bronze Bomber” for the medal he won at the 2008 Beijing
Olympics, is the first American heavyweight champion since Shannon Briggs held
the WBO title from 2006-07.
The 29-year-old from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, showed why each of his previous
bouts ended in early knockouts. He stunned Wilder with a combination in the
second round that started with a hard right hand and was interrupted by the
Stiverne tackled Wilder into the corner as he went down, though Wilder wasn’t
credited with a knockdown.
He jawed at Stiverne as they were down on the mat.
In his third bout in 10 months, Wilder rarely looked in trouble. Stiverne had
him up against the ropes after a good left hand in the sixth round and Wilder
later withstood a good combo.
But he came back with a combo that shook up Stiverne in the seventh — a jab
followed by a hard, straight right on the chin. Stiverne stumbled into the
ropes later in the round after coming up short on a punch.
Stiverne, 36, fought for the first time since his sixth-round TKO of Chris
Arreola last May 10 gave him claim to the vacant WBC belt.
The title had been vacated in December 2013 when Vitali Klitschko retired to
pursue political ambitions in Ukraine.
On the undercard, Leo Santa Cruz stopped Jesus Ruiz in the eighth round to
retain the WBC world super bantamweight title.
Santa Cruz (29-0-1, 17 KOs) stunned Ruiz (33-6-5) with a right hand and had
him against the ropes when the fight was stopped. It was his fourth successful
defense of the title.