Maybe it’s a clash of heavyweight pretenders in the age of the Klitschko King. Then again, maybe it’s the heavyweight fight of the year. Either way, tonight’s showdown between Bermane Stiverne and Deontay Wilder has caught the attention of fight fans and stirred up more excitement than any heavyweight fight in recent memory. So, without further ado, here, in no particular order, are our picks for tonight’s showdown for the WBC heavyweight title.
Shaun Brown: Wilder may have fought a bunch of ‘who are these guys’ in 32 fights but there’s no doubting the power of his punch. Take away two fights with Chris Arreola, and is Stiverne’s CV any better? Wilder won’t be playing the long game, despite his defensive improvements, which is a big gamble for a man who has never gone beyond four rounds. I’m convinced he wants to send shock waves around the world and do the kind of demolition job that Mike Tyson used to do. I’m going for the early gamble here. Wilder can punch through defences and open you up. I don’t think Stiverne survives the onslaught. Lights out. Wilder KO 3.
Manny Montreal: Wilder has no footwork and squares up to his opponent too much. He’s awkward and has never been under pressure before. He will be this time. Stiverne by knockout, more than likely when Wilder puts his feet together and is off balance. Stiverne by KO.
Emile Ferlisi: While Stiverne is the belt holder, his record is not as impressive as one might expect, tarnished as it is by a loss and draw early in his career to less than stellar opposition. His biggest wins came against Chris Arreola, but while Arreola is no Klitschko, he is significantly better than anyone Deontay Wilder has faced. What Arreola does lack is one-punch power, something Wilder has in abundance. Stiverne fought much of the second Arreola fight with his left hand at his hip and if he does that against Wilder he could find himself on the canvas. Wilder has yet to be tested, but he’s shown impressive knockout power. If Wilder is able to use his superior height and reach to advantage he’ll catch an overly-confident Stiverne with a laser beam straight right and finish things in typical “Bronze Bomber” fashion inside of five rounds. Wilder by KO.
Shawn W. Smith: Wilder will be a world champion some day, just not yet. His lack of experience leads me to believe he could struggle on the big stage. I like Stiverne to survive an early onslaught and get the finish somewhere in the middle rounds, maybe the seventh or eighth. Stiverne by KO.
Michael Carbert: Count me among those who look at this match-up and thinks, “What’s the big deal?” It’s sad how starved fight fans are for genuine drama that we keep pumping up these mediocre match-ups (Golovkin-Rubio; Kovalev-Hopkins) into major events. What suckers we are! I also fail to see how Deontay Wilder is anything other than a manufactured American heavyweight sensation. He’s Gerry Cooney, but with a big right hand instead of a left hook, and a much darker complexion. Except Cooney had actually beaten a few guys who could fight a bit; I’m not sure Wilder can boast the same. Stiverne will not be intimidated and is going to take Wilder to scary places he’s never seen before and the taller man’s long arms are going to come in handy when that happens. Stiverne by late round TKO in a dreary, clinch-filled match which does not live up to fans’ hopes and dreams. Stiverne by TKO.
Robert Portis: Stiverne is for real; Wilder is not. This will dawn on the so-called “Bronze Bomber” by round five or six and the existential crisis which follows will not be pretty to see. Wilder will be rescued by the referee not long after. Stiverne TKO8.
Lee Wylie: When it comes to handicapping fights, I generally lean towards the more experienced boxer. However, while Stiverne is clearly the more seasoned of the two combatants and the better boxer overall, my gut feeling here is that the advantages Wilder holds in both height and reach will prove an insurmountable obstacle for the Haitian native to overcome. Stiverne, a slick out-fighter who is really at his best when measuring distance and setting things up using a flicking jab thrown from below the waist, is anything but the all-in, distance-eating pressure fighter his squat frame suggests he is, and would likely need to be for him to have any success against the taller, rangier Wilder. In fact, Stiverne’s optimum working range is precisely one which will accommodate Wilder’s length and punching leverage the most.
And so, regardless of whether he’s forcefully closing the distance himself or shrewdly attempting to lure the American in, I don’t think Stiverne will be durable or elusive enough to bridge the gap, consistently score, and force Wilder to fight under duress without being timed, clipped and hurt badly himself somewhere along the way. Here, I like superior skill and experience to be trumped by superior physicality and punching power. Wilder by TKO
I can’t believe we have a tilt between big men both loathe to wilt/ That guarantees to entertain for it won’t be dull or lame/ And while it’s no “Return to Glory” it will provide at least a story/ That being: glory, wholly snatched, by one man when the chin is smacked.
Deontay Wilder puts men to sleep, where, conscious-less, they don’t count sheep/ His past opponents have been poor. Don’t like my take? Well there’s the door!/ Bermane Stiverne, while shy, is hard. With hands of stone and belly of lard / Still, I say, in my mind ‘tis fixed, that B.Ware stops Wilder in round six! Stiverne KO 6
Rafael Garcia : I’m as excited as the next fight fan about this weekend’s heavyweight title bout, but the one image I can’t get out of my mind as I try to write my prediction is that of Wilder’s scrawny chicken legs. I can’t stop wondering if those chopsticks he calls his lower limbs will be able to support his 6’6’’, 225-pounds frame when Stiverne’s punishing right hand lands on him. Of course, this is a question most observers have going into the fight: how will Wilder respond when a powerful puncher actually punches back. I believe those who give Haymon’s protégé a 50% chance of winning (most “expert” polls are split roughly that way) are severely underestimating this factor. Stiverne KO 8.
By a clear margin of six to three, the TFC staff pick Bermane Stiverne to successfully defend his WBC heavyweight belt tonight in Las Vegas.