The Heavyweights have taken the backstage in the last couple of decades because of the absence of a true superstar in the mold of a Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield in America. But that could change very soon when WBC heavyweight champion Bermane Stiverne faces unbeaten Deontay Wilder at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 17th.

Back To America

After Bermane Stiverne’s 6th round KO of Chris Arreola in May 2014, heavyweight boxing has regained some interest in the United States. That fight was the first heavyweight title fight in America since 2008 when Vitali Klitchsko retired Arreola in the 10th round of their WBC title bout at the  Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Less than a year later, the Canadian Stiverne heads back to America and this time to the fight in the capital of the world – Las Vegas, Nevada, to defend his belt for the first time against undefeated mandatory challenger Deontay Wilder, who is aiming to become the first U.S. born heavyweight champion since Shannon Briggs in 2007. The card is dubbed as “Return To Glory” as both Stiverne and Wilder hope to put heavyweight boxing right where it belongs: on top of the sport.

Not going the Distance

Looking at their records, anyone will agree that this fight won’t last the distance. Stiverne is unbeaten in his last 13 fights with 10 knockouts included. Overall, he’s scored a knockout in 21 out of 24 wins, including 18 within round three and 14 in round one. On the other hand, the unbeaten Wilder has knocked out all of his 32 opponents so far. He has not gone past four rounds and has fought in only 58 total rounds. Of Wilder’s 32 KO’s, 18 have come in round one and 8 in round two. With these impressive knockout records, Stiverne and Wilder have a combined knockout ratio of 95% (53-56 wins) so it wasn’t a surprise why both men predicted to knock the other man out. Wilder said Stiverne won’t go past four rounds ( he’s never gone farther before) while Stiverne didn’t name a round but said that his KO win would “leave a lasting image” to the fans. Add the fact that we have two men who genuinely hate each other off the ring, and we have the perfect recipe for a heavyweight brawl that we’ve been waiting for in decades.

Who Takes it?

Fight odds have installed the champion as a -175 favorite with the challenger a +160 underdog and while that margin is close, bettors agree that the fight won’t last the distance with a knockout as mode of victory a -900 bet and a decision a +190.

There is no doubt that with their punching power, both man can end the bout at any given moment. The key here should be the length of the fight because Wilder has never been tested outside of four rounds. If Wilder’s power is indeed for real, he can take out the champion in less than four rounds as he predicted. But that won’t be easy. Stiverne has been in the ring with the tougher competition. Sure, he got knocked out in his only defeat but that’s as far as it goes for putting Stiverne down. If Stiverne can take Wilder’s punches in the first two rounds and withstand the expected early storm which the challenger will bring, he has a better chance at winning.

Nobody knows how Wilder will be after round 4 and it’s those unknowns that will give Stiverne the advantage as the fight goes longer. It’s true that Stiverne is the toughest fight of Wilder’s career and perhaps the first true test of his career. But the same can also be said of Stiverne because fluke or no fluke, Wilder is a former Olympic bronze medalist who does have the skill to be the next American hope.

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