By Matt Richardson at ringside
Photos: Emily Harney
WBC Heavyweight World Champion Deontay Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs) absolutely destroyed former world champion Bermane Stiverne (25-3-1, 21 KOs) on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. Wilder dropped Stiverne three times in round one.
In the past 18 months, Wilder had seen two major title defenses scrapped when his opponents failed drug tests prior to fight night. Gone were two significant paydays and, perhaps most importantly, two opportunities to prove that he was more than just a hard puncher and another American heavyweight hope.
So, it would’ve been understandable if Wilder, who won his belt from Bermane Stiverne almost three years ago, would’ve entered the ring on Saturday night in Brooklyn in a rematch with Stiverne and underperformed. He was entitled to an off-night considering how his career has stalled as of late.
But that’s not what Wilder did.
In just under three minutes at the Barclays Center (two minutes and 59 seconds to be exact) Wilder completely destroyed Stiverne to score a first-round technical knockout. Stiverne, the only fighter to ever take Wilder the distance in their first fight in 2015, was dropped three times in a brief and violent encounter.
Stiverne was first knocked to the seat of his pants after absorbing a hard right but got up and appeared unfazed.
Fighting with something to prove, Wilder soon dropped Stiverne again, also at the end of a hard right but one that seemed to connect more with Stiverne’s gloves. Stiverne rose once again and Wilder quickly finished him off with a wide combination, punctuated by a powerful left hook that dropped Stiverne in a heap under the ropes. Referee Arthur Mercante Jr. quickly called a halt, although it was obvious that Wilder still wanted to continue to pound his opponent.
Stiverne, the WBC mandatory challenger, had stepped in as a late replacement in the fight after Luis Ortiz failed a pre-fight drug test. Ortiz was the second major heavyweight contender to have a fight with Wilder scrapped after failing a pre-fight drug test after former heavyweight title challenger Alexander Povetkin turned up dirty days before Wilder was set to defend his belt in May 2016.