WILDER THING

Wilder steps back in time to prove his su­pe­ri­or­ity over the un­de­serv­ing Stiverne all over again, writes Chris Walker

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WBC heavy­weight king Deon­tay pre­pares to face old ri­val Stiverne

THE wel­come trend of out­stand­ing matchups grip­ping box­ing through­out 2017 was set to hit the heavy­weight di­vi­sion when WBC cham­pion Deon­tay Wilder in­tended to put his belt on the line against enig­matic Cuban Luis Or­tiz. Un­for­tu­nately, a failed drug test from the lat­ter shelved the highly an­tic­i­pated con­test, and now num­ber one con­tender, and for­mer Wilder vic­tim, Ber­mane Stiverne steps in for a re­match that doesn’t ex­cite in the slight­est.

I’m not sure what’s more ridicu­lous – that a one-sided bout from Jan­uary 2015, in which Wilder stag­gered the com­pact Haiti na­tive sev­eral times be­fore earn­ing a near shutout de­ci­sion, is set for a se­quel, or that Stiverne is manda­tory con­tender. Since los­ing to Wilder, Stiverne has fought just once – go­ing the 10-round dis­tance against Der­ric Rossy – and also found time to fail a drug test him­self ahead of an aborted clash with Alexan­der Povetkin.

Wilder’s ca­reer since cap­tur­ing the belt from Stiverne has seen him keep his flaw­less record in­tact, but any hopes he had of tak­ing over the di­vi­sion from Wladimir Klitschko are yet to be ful­filled. Tyson Fury be­came ruler when de­thron­ing Wladimir two years ago be­fore head­ing on a path of self-de­struc­tion, and then An­thony Joshua handed the wise Ukrainian an­other loss in April of this year in an epic show­ing that re­minded peo­ple just how sig­nif­i­cant the heavy­weight crown can be. Dur­ing this pe­riod, Wilder has dom­i­nated against a cast of C-list con­tenders, but the lack of a marquee vic­tim on his record has re­sulted in a lack of faith from the in­dus­try. An­other vic­tory over Stiverne will do lit­tle to ap­pease that, yet Wilder – tar­get­ing a uni­fi­ca­tion scrap with Joshua – knows he can’t slip

up. “In the first fight, I broke my hand in the third round and I still dom­i­nated,” re­vealed Wilder. “That was a lot of the rea­son why it went the dis­tance. This time it is a dif­fer­ent day, dif­fer­ent time, and dif­fer­ent fight, and it won’t end well for him. De­spite all these ob­sta­cles that are thrown in my path, it will not stop me from reach­ing my goal, and that is to be the undis­puted heavy­weight cham­pion. Stiverne is go­ing to pay for Luis Or­tiz screw­ing up.”

Box­ing ob­servers will prob­a­bly not learn any­thing new from Wilder in this fight and it’s highly doubt­ful that his rep­u­ta­tion will be en­hanced with vic­tory, be­cause we’ve seen it all be­fore.

This re­turn falls into a sim­i­lar bracket of Chad Dawson and Sergey Ko­valev pro­vid­ing re­matches to An­to­nio Tarver and Jean Pas­cal re­spec­tively. Noth­ing in the orig­i­nal meet­ings had any­one scream­ing for a se­quel, and the same ap­plies for Wilder and Stiverne, who clash at Brook­lyn’s Bar­clays Cen­ter on a show be­ing screened by Sky Sports in the UK and Show­time in Amer­ica.

Com­pla­cency from the cham­pion is prob­a­bly Stiverne’s best chance of ob­tain­ing an un­likely vic­tory, but one doubts Wilder will come un­pre­pared. Al­though he can be ragged and reck­less when at­tack­ing, he demon­strated plenty of re­spect for Stiverne when they met in Ve­gas al­most three years ago, and the man­ner in which he won showed that he is able to box when re­quired. It’s likely he will adopt a sim­i­lar ap­proach on Satur­day night, but in­crease the nas­ti­ness as the fight drags on to ex­ploit the se­vere lack of in­ac­tiv­ity of Stiverne and force a stop­page some­where around the ninth.

Wilder can feel hard done by that his im­pres­sive slate does not in­clude the valu­able scalps of Or­tiz and Povetkin – yet an­other found guilty of us­ing banned sub­stances – but the Stivernes and Ger­ald Wash­ing­tons of the world are not ad­e­quate enough qual­ity to truly as­sess just how good the Amer­i­can world cham­pion is. Those an­swers ur­gently need to be sought in 2018.

Two for­mer Joshua vic­tims face off on the un­der­card as Eric Molina and Do­minic Breazeale col­lide over 12 rounds. Nei­ther fighter cov­ered them­selves in glory when op­pos­ing the de­struc­tive Brit, but past anal­y­sis of both shows that Breazeale is prob­a­bly the more pol­ished of the two. It is hard to vi­su­alise the vic­tor trou­bling any of the cur­rent cham­pi­ons, or lead­ing con­tenders for that mat­ter, but Breazeale should get a com­fort­able points win. Kaza­khstan-born Rus­sian Sergey

Lip­inets should win his first world ti­tle when he goes for the re­cently va­cated IBF su­per-light­weight crown against Ja­pan’s Ak­i­hiro Kondo. Lip­inets looks a very ca­pa­ble puncher and has not put a foot wrong yet dur­ing a 12-fight ca­reer, and he can add to his im­pres­sive KO ra­tio by halt­ing Kondo some­where af­ter half­way.

There’s also ac­tion for the oft-en­ter­tain­ing Shawn Porter. The for­mer world cham­pion at 147lbs should be able to outscore the very durable Adrian

Grana­dos – who shone re­cently in a los­ing ef­fort to Adrien Broner – over the sched­uled 10-round dis­tance.

THE VER­DICT A point­less re­turn that high­lights se­vere faults in the WBC rank­ings sys­tem.

Pho­tos: RYAN HAFEY/PREMIER BOX­ING CHAM­PI­ONS & NAOKI FUKUDA

LET­TING LOOSE: Wilder wants to take his frus­tra­tion out on old foe Stiverne

RE­PEAT OR RE­VENGE? Wilder will be aim­ing to pun­ish Stiverne with right hands, just as he did in their first fight

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