By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Deontay Wilder furiously unleashed all of his frustration by bombarding Bermane Stiverne in their rematch Saturday night.
Wilder knocked down his mandatory challenger three times and scored a sensational first-round knockout to defend his WBC heavyweight title at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Referee Arthur Mercante Jr. stopped their scheduled 12-round fight with one second to go in the first round, following a third knockdown that left a stunned Stiverne slumped against the ropes. The 32-year-old Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs), of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, has now knocked out every opponent he has fought as a pro.
“Nobody has the jab that he has,” promoter Lou DiBella said following Wilder’s win. “Nobody has the one-punch power that he has. He’s the scariest heavyweight on the planet.”
The 6-feet-7, 220-pound Wilder landed a hard right hand through Stiverne’s guard that floored the 39-year-old former champion with just under a minute left in the first round.
Stiverne reached his feet, but Wilder quickly put him down again after landing a right hand to the top of Stiverne’s head. Wilder yelled toward Stiverne’s corner men immediately after the second knockdown, imploring them to stop the fight.
A disoriented Stiverne got up again, but Wilder sent him to the canvas a third time with a left-right-left combination. That’s when Mercante stepped in to stop the brief bout by pulling an emotional Wilder away from his fallen foe.
“You gotta give props to Stiverne for getting in the ring,” Wilder said. “It takes a lot of courage, it takes a lot of pride to step in the ring with someone like me … we do what we gotta do in the ring and at least he stepped up. He was a clean fighter.”
Wilder won the WBC heavyweight title from Stiverne in January 2015, but Stiverne (25-3-1, 21 KOs) remains the only opponent Wilder failed to knock out since he made his pro debut in November 2008. Haiti’s Stiverne claimed after that one-sided defeat that dehydration was the reason Wilder won so easily on all three scorecards (120-107, 119-108, 118-109).
Wilder wanted nothing more than to prove his superiority over Stiverne by knocking him out in their second fight. The 6-feet-2 Stiverne weighed in nearly 16 pounds heavier Friday afternoon (254¾ pounds) than he did for their first fight (239).
“Bermane was in shape this time,” said Don King, Stiverne’s promoter. “Last time he was dehydrated. But there are no excuses. You can’t take anything from Deontay. Stiverne had to crowd him and stay under him and not let him use his range.”
Wilder was supposed to fight unbeaten Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz (27-0, 23 KOs, 2 NC) in what would’ve been a more difficult fight Saturday night. Ortiz tested positive for two banned substances late in September, however, and the WBC ordered Wilder to instead make a mandatory defense against Stiverne.
A rusty Stiverne fought just once in nearly three years between fights with Wilder and was dropped in the first round of that November 2015 bout by Derric Rossy (31-13, 15 KOs). Stiverne recovered to win that 10-rounder by unanimous decision.
Despite his inactivity, the WBC still installed Stiverne as Wilder’s mandatory challenger.
Stiverne promised it would be him, not Wilder, who would win their rematch by knockout. CompuBox didn’t credit the challenger with landing a single punch in the short fight (0-for-4 overall).
“Deontay Wilder is a terrific fighter with great power,” King said. “We tried to disarm him before the fight by taking away his heart and determination. But you can’t take anything away from his performance. I wish him well. He’s fantastic.”
Wilder wasted no time in calling out fellow undefeated heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua after destroying Stiverne.
“I’ve been waiting on that fight for a long time now,” 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?”
Eddie Hearn, whose company promotes Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs), has indicated Joshua will fight at least twice more before considering facing Wilder in what would be a highly anticipated showdown between unbeaten knockout artists.
“A king don’t chase the peasants,” Wilder said. “A king takes kings. I want Joshua. If he don’t give me the fight, we have other plans. … The world want Joshua, the world want Wilder. I want Joshua. Joshua, come and see me, baby. No more dodging, no more excuses. Make the date, don’t wait.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.