Wilder UD12 Stiverne – and ranking update

This past weekend, Bermane Stiverne and Deontay Wilder met to determine the next worthy challenger to the heavyweight crown, currently held by Wladimir Klitschko. The fight was considered by most observers to be a complete toss-up, with predictions divided almost evenly between the two. The only thing known about Wilder was that he carried a big punch. Otherwise, thanks to his rather woeful resume and his penchant for ending fights early, nobody really knew what he could do going into the fight. Stiverne was a bit more of a known quantity, albeit a somewhat inconsistent one. He had only faced one legitimate contender before, scoring a wide points win over Chris Arreola in 2013, then stopping him in 6 rounds a year later. Stiverne actually looked better in the first fight than the second, where he was largely outworked before landing a huge counter right that destroyed Arreola’s equilibrium and led to the stoppage. Before the first Arreola fight, Stiverne struggled mightily with a 40 year old Ray Austin (a fringe contender at best), being outboxed for 9 rounds, before catching up to Ray and ending things in the 10th. Ray Austin, it may be noted, was absolutely trucked by Wladimir Klitschko in 2 rounds way back in 2007, with Wlad not once throwing a right hand. These results somewhat diminish Stiverne’s accomplishments.

Stiverne, at around 6’2”, stands a good 4 to 5 inches shorter than the nearly 6’7” Wilder, though he has a much sturdier build. Wilder, who is built like an NBA shooting guard, has a relatively willowy frame, and his durability was viewed with skepticism going into the fight. The only real consensus was that both men had the power to knock the other out, and one of them most certainly would succeed. Some argued that Stiverne, a slow-starter with a fairly low workrate, would be bulldozed early by the quicker and more active Wilder. Others suggested that Stiverne would “fight small,” staying low and using head movement, while withstanding the early onslaught, where he would take Wilder beyond 4 rounds for the first time, wear him out, and eventually reach his supposedly fragile chin.

It turned out that both predictions were wrong. Wilder, thought to be the slugger in this matchup, completely flummoxed his shorter opponent, and used a decent (and occasionally excellent) jab to keep Stiverne at the end of his long arms. Stiverne plodded forward without throwing much at all, and rarely demonstrated the head movement or the body attack necessary to consistently get inside a taller and quicker opponent. Wilder would sometime lapse into his old sloppy habits, but in general showed a much more polished skillset than just a couple years before, when he was stumbling all over the ring trying to club a petrified Audley Harrison into submission. Stiverne appeared sluggish throughout, and seemed to run out of gas by the middle rounds. After the fight, he was diagnosed with severe dehydration as well as muscle damage brought on by rhabdomyolysis. Wilder himself claimed a broken hand incurred sometime around the 4th round. Both fighters, as is often the case, proclaimed themselves to be hobbled throughout the fight. There’s no reason to doubt either man, but this kind of thing can put a cloud on the result of what was a fairly entertaining fight.

Wilder dropped Stiverne at the end of the 2nd with a wild flurry, though Stiverne turned the knockdown into a tackle that also brought both Wilder and referee Tony Weeks down with him. That brief scrum, combined with the round ending just as Stiverne fell, caused the knockdown to be ruled a slip. Losing the extra point proved to be irrelevant for Wilder, who generally dominated and outworked Stiverne. The aforementioned sluggishness was a large part of it, though Wilder moved well, and was able to (mostly) keep Bermane at arm’s length. In the 7th, Wilder opened up his offense and repeatedly rocked the shorter man. The judges would end up unanimously scoring that round 10-8. In the late rounds, Stiverne managed to pick up the pace just a bit, and was able to make a case for winning the 8th, 11th, and 12th rounds (as well as the 4th and 6th). Wilder fought more conservatively in the final rounds, understanding that he was likely well ahead on the scorecards. The decision for Wilder was deserved, although possibly too wide. I gave Stiverne more benefit of the doubt than most, and personally scored it 7 rounds to 5 (115-112 with the 7th round scored 10-8). Having said that, I have no argument with those who scored it 8 to 4 or even 9 to 3 for the new WBC bauble-holder. Re-watching it may yield a different score from me. The decision was perhaps the least likely conclusion to what figured to be a quick and explosive brawl. Nonetheless, Wilder earned his first win over a legitimate contender.

Both men demonstrated strengths and weaknesses. Wilder especially showed a much more evolved boxing ability than he was initially thought to have. He moved well, flashed solid hand and foot speed, and brought out his power when Stiverne did manage to work inside. Wilder did still get sloppy at times, especially when on the attack. While he seemed to have improved his guard, he had lapses where his hands dropped away from his chin, which is something that could be problematic against a fighter taller or quicker than Stiverne. Wilder is still a work in progress, though he is improving rapidly.

It’s more difficult to find positives from Stiverne’s performance, except that his punch resistance was extraordinary. He absorbed shots that would have likely felled most other fighters in the division. He also displayed courage, and never quit, even in the final rounds when he had to know how hopelessly behind he was. Otherwise, Stiverne fought a pretty bad fight. He was poorly conditioned, threw only half as many punches as Wilder, had minimal head movement, and rarely put significant pressure on his opponent. Some of his performance may be attributed to his physical issues going into the fight, but just how much is a matter of speculation and not that meaningful in the final analysis.

Neither man appeared ready for the challenge of Wladimir Klitschko, though Wilder made a solid case for being among the best possible remaining challengers to the long-reigning Ukrainian. Both men move quite a bit in the Hunter Boxing ratings. Wilder clearly deserves his top ten spot, and now top 5, but just how far up the ladder is trickier to ascertain.

Over the last few years, Tyson Fury has arguably done more with his career than Wilder, and is a bit more polished as a fighter, if not quite as physically impressive. Alexander Povetkin has the deepest resume at heavyweight after Klitschko, and despite his 2013 loss to the champion, has simply accomplished more than Deontay. Arguably, his 2014 knockouts of Charr and Takam are greater deeds (at least combined) than Wilder’s decision over Stiverne. So for now, I’ll keep Wilder just below those two, but I believe he has done enough to leapfrog the rest.

Stiverne drops from #2 down to #6. It’s hard to justify keeping him over Pulev or Jennings, but pretty much everyone below 6 has experienced recent losses or just hasn’t impressed lately. He could conceivably fit anywhere from 4 to 10, but 6 feels about right.

For January 22, 2015, here are my updated heavyweight rankings:

ChampionWladimir Klitschko – 63-3(53) – Ukraine – Linear, Ring, TBRB, IBF, WBO, WBA, IBO titles
Champion on January 11th
Rankings in… C @ Ring, C @ TBRB, C @ BoxingScene, 1 @ Boxrec, 1 @ ESPN
Wins over top 10 Ring-rated opponents: 14
Next fight: April 25th vs. #5 Bryant Jennings

1.) Alexander Povetkin – 28-1(20) – Russia
Ranked #1 on January 11th
Rankings in… 1 @ Ring, 1 @ TBRB, 1 @ BoxingScene, 2 @ Boxrec, 2 @ ESPN
Wins over top 10 Ring-rated opponents: 2
Next fight: Not scheduled

2.) Tyson Fury – 23-0(17) – United Kingdom
Ranked #3 on January 11th
Rankings in… 3 @ Ring, 2 @ TBRB, 2 @ BoxingScene, 5 @ Boxrec, 3 @ ESPN
Wins over top 10 Ring-rated opponents: 0
Next fight: February 28th vs. unranked Christian Hammer

3.) Deontay Wilder – 33-0(32) – United States – WBC title
Ranked #10
on January 11th
Ranked in… 2 @ Ring, 3 @ TBRB, 3 @ BoxingScene, 3 @ Boxrec, 4 @ ESPN
Wins over top 10 Ring-rated opponents: 1
Next fight: Not scheduled

4.) Kubrat Pulev – 20-1(11) – Bulgaria
Ranked #4 on January 11th
Rankings in… 4 @ Ring, 4 @ TBRB, 4 @ BoxingScene, 4 @ Boxrec, 8 @ ESPN
Wins over top 10 Ring-rated opponents: 2
Next fight: Not scheduled

5.) Bryant Jennings – 19-0(10) – United States
Ranked #5 on January 11th
Rankings in… 5 @ Ring, 8 @ TBRB, 9 @ BoxingScene, 8 @ Boxrec, 9 @ ESPN
Wins over top 10 Ring-rated opponents: 1
Next fight: April 25th vs. Champion Wladimir Klitschko

6.) Bermane Stiverne – 24-2-1(20) – Canada (via Haiti)
Ranked #2 on January 11th
Rankings in… 6 @ Ring, 5 @ TBRB, 5 @ BoxingScene, 12 @ Boxrec, 6 @ ESPN
Wins over top 10 Ring-rated opponents: 2
Next fight: Not scheduled

7.) Carlos Takam – 30-2-1(23) – France (via Cameroon)
Ranked #6 on January 11th
Rankings in… NR @ Ring, 6 @ TBRB, 6 @ BoxingScene, 13 @ Boxrec, NR @ ESPN
Wins over top 10 Ring-rated opponents: 1
Next fight: Not scheduled

8.) Vyacheslav Glazkov – 19-0-1(12) – Ukraine
Ranked #7 on January 11th
Rankings in… 7 @ Ring, 7 @ TBRB, 8 @ BoxingScene, 6 @ Boxrec, 5 @ ESPN
Wins over top 10 Ring-rated opponents: 1
Next fight: March 14 vs. #9 Steve Cunningham

9.) Steve Cunningham – 28-6(13) – United States
Ranked #8 on January 11th
Rankings in… NR @ Ring, 9 @ TBRB, 6 @ BoxingScene, 10 @ Boxrec, NR @ ESPN
Wins over top 10 Ring-rated opponents: 0
Next fight: March 14 against #8 Vyacheslav Glazkov

10.) Mike Perez – 20-1-1(12) – Ireland (via Cuba)
Ranked #9 on January 11th
Ranked in… 8 @ Ring, 10 @ TBRB, NR @ BoxingScene, 16 @ Boxrec, 10 @ ESPN
Wins over top 10 Ring-rated opponents: 0
Next fight: Not scheduled

11.) Ruslan Chagaev – 33-2-1(20) – Uzbekistan – WBA (regular) title
Ranked #11 on January 11th
Ranked in… 10 @ Ring, NR @ TBRB, NR @ BoxingScene, 22 @ Boxrec, 7 @ ESPN
Wins over top 10 Ring-rated opponents: 2
Next fight: Not scheduled

12.) Chris Arreola – 35-4(31) – United States
Ranked #12 on January 11th
Ranked in… 9 @ Ring, NR @ TBRB, NR @ BoxingScene, 19 @ Boxrec, NR @ ESPN
Wins over top 10 Ring-rated opponents: 0
Next fight: Not scheduled

13.) Dereck Chisora – 20-5(13) – United Kingdom
Ranked #13 on January 11th
Ranked in… NR @ Ring, NR @ TBRB, NR @ BoxingScene, 18 @ Boxrec, NR @ ESPN
Wins over top 10 Ring-rated opponents: 0
Next fight: Not scheduled

14.) Anthony Joshua – 10-0(10) – United Kingdom
Ranked #14th on January 11th
Ranked… NR @ Ring, NR @ TBRB, 10 @ BoxingScene, 21 @ Boxrec, NR @ ESPN
Wins over top 10 Ring-rated opponents: 0
Next fight: Not scheduled (Fight with Kevin Johnson cancelled due to training injury)

15.) Tony Thompson – 39-5(26) – United States
Ranked #15th on January 11th
Ranked in… NR @ Ring, NR @ TBRB, NR @ BoxingScene, 26 @ Boxrec, NR @ ESPN
Wins over top 10 Ring-rated opponents: 1
Next fight: Not scheduled

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About hbreck

Writer, debater, contrarian, storyteller, occasional troublemaker. I'm mostly just making things up as I go.
This entry was posted in boxing, divisional rankings, fight report, heavyweights, updates and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Wilder UD12 Stiverne – and ranking update

  1. Pingback: Top 15 Heavyweights – June 25, 2015 | Hunter Boxing

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