WBC heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder does not have much of a choice on Saturday when he takes on former titleholder Bermane Stiverne in a mandatory rematch on Saturday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The 6-foot-7, 225-pound Wilder, who missed out on an opportunity to fight ex-interim titlist Luis Ortiz when the Cuban tested positive for two banned diuretics, not only must beat Stiverne, but he also must knock him out early.
In their first encounter in January 2015, Wilder (38-0, 37 KO’s), 32, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, who broke his right hand in the second round, outboxed Stiverne (25-1-1, 21 KO’s), 39, a Haiti native fighting out of Las Vegas, to a unanimous decision victory. Stiverne, who hasn’t fought since November 14, 2015, when he defeated Derric Rossy on points, also had to spend several days in the hospital for severe dehydration and muscle damage, which he blamed on overtraining.
Wilder is in a box. If he starts off slow like he has in his past couple of fights, Stiverne could win a few rounds. That can’t happen for a variety of reasons. For one, as aforementioned, his opponent has not fought for nearly two years. Secondly, Wilder recently posted a string of videos on his social media pages claiming that top heavyweights weren’t willing to step into the ring with him.
Wilder was fired up and appeared itching to score a massive knockout. He must take that fieriness and beat the living daylights out of Stiverne. Anything less will not be acceptable to boxing fans who want to see the “Bronze Bomber” live up to his name, and it could potentially make a fight between current IBF/IBO/WBA heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua and Wilder less attractive.
FightNights.com is predicting a fourth-round TKO victory for Wilder. If he gets the job done, the pressure is on Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Sport to set up a heavyweight showdown for the ages. Forget Dillian Whyte; the fans want Joshua-Wilder.
If the 2008 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist fails to stop Stiverne, some fans may be inclined to go as far to say that he has lost a step, but that's unlikely.