Deontay Wilder’s sixth defense of the WBC heavyweight title played out as expected – and then some.
The unbeaten American touched with prodigious power in both hands dropped Bermane Stiverne three times in a spectacularly violent display before referee Arthur Mercante Jr intervened with one second left in the opening round on Saturday night at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
Afterward, Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs) was asked about the much-fancied heavyweight title unification bout with Britain’s Anthony Joshua, the IBF and WBA champion regarded by many as the division’s top dog since sending Wladimir Klitschko into retirement at Wembley Stadium earlier this year.
“I’ve been waiting for that fight for a long time now,” the 32-year-old Wilder said. “I declare war upon you. Do you accept my challenge? ... I’ve been waiting for a long time. I know I’m the champion, I know I’m the best. Are you up for the test?”
He continued: “A king doesn't chase the peasants. A king takes kings. I want Joshua. If he doesn't give me the fight we have other plans … why should I go to England to fight a peasant without the king on the contract? The world wants Joshua, the world want Wilder, I want Joshua. Joshua, come and see me baby. No more dodging, no more dodging, no more excuses … make the date, don’t wait.”
The Olympic bronze medalist from Alabama had won the WBC’s piece of the long-fractured heavyweight championship from Stiverne on points when they first met nearly three years ago. But the Stiverne who climbed through the ropes on Saturday was a silhouette of the fighter who had offered Wilder so game a challenge in their first meeting, the first and only time the chiseled American has been extended the distance before or since.
The Haiti-born, Las Vegas-based mandatory challenger had fought just once in the 34 months since – less-than-scintillating points win over the journeyman Derric Rossy in 2015 – and celebrated his 39th birthday this week, uncomfortable truths which no doubt accounted for the 10-1 odds against him.
But on Saturday, the lone opponent to last 12 rounds with Wilder could not even make it through one.
Wilder came out firing with a stiff left jab as Stiverne fought off the back foot looking for opportunities to counter. Midway through the round, Stiverne ventured forward into the pocket but immediately paid a toll as Wilder’s advantage in hand speed was laid bare. Before long the 6ft 7in champion uncorked a left-right combination that dumped Stiverne to the canvas in a heap.
Stiverne (25-3-1, 21 KOs) made it to his feet but Wilder barreled in and sent him clattering to the deck once more with another series of looping, clubbing lefts and rights. The challenger bravely beat the count as the end of the round drew near, but Wilder ensured he wouldn’t make it to the bell, closing the show with flurry of blows punctuated by a heat-seeking left hand that split Stiverne’s guard and left his fallen opponent senseless and in a daze amid cheers from the 10,924 spectators on hand.