Las Vegas - Deontay Wilder became the first American to win a piece of the
heavyweight title in nearly a decade Saturday night, staggering Bermane
Stiverne early on his way to a 12-round unanimous decision that kept him
unbeaten in 33 fights.
Going deep into a fight for the first time in his career, Wilder controlled
the fight with a big left jab, often followed by right hands up the middle as
he piled up points early on his way to the biggest win of his career.
The 2008 Olympic bronze medallist, who had never been past the fourth round
in winning all 32 of his previous fights, had to go the distance in this one.
But the payoff was the WBC heavyweight title and a chance to be a big man on a
One ringside judge gave Wilder every round, scoring it 120-107, and he won
119-108 and 118-109 on the other two. The Associated Press had Wilder winning
"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
Wilder had stopped all 32 of his opponents, 18 in the first round and none
past the fourth. But his opponents were a suspect lot, and Stiverne (24-2-1)
was his first big test as a pro, which he passed with flying colours.
Ringside punch stats showed Wilder's dominance, crediting him with landing
227 of 621 punches, including 120 of 420 jabs. Stiverne landed 110 of 327
punches, and only 38 jabs.
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 18 years
ago. Both Tyson and Holyfield were on hand to watch, as was Larry Holmes, who
fought often on the big stage as heavyweight champion in the 1970s and '80s.
And Wilder became the first American to hold a piece of the heavyweight
title since Shannon Briggs in 2006.
"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."
Wilder took some, but with a huge reach advantage he was able to keep
Stiverne on the outside most of the night and made him pay the price when he
came inside. Stiverne was never knocked down but was staggered several times.
"I wasn't myself. I felt 100 percent 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."
Stiverne was defending the title he won last May when he stopped Chris
Arreola in the sixth round. The WBC title had become vacant by the retirement
of Vitali Klitschko, whose brother, Wladimir, is considered the true
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.
The crowd of 8 453 was on its feet in the seventh round as Wilder staggered Stiverne
yet again, landing a left jab followed by a straight right up the middle.
Stiverne went into the ropes but managed to escape once more.
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.
Adding to the scene was 83-year-old promoter Don King, who also staged the
Bite Fight. King, who promotes Stiverne but has largely been inactive in recent
years, waved a variety of flags as he climbed into the ring with his fighter, a
big cigar clenched between his teeth.
Like Stiverne, though, he left the ring disappointed.