LAS VEGAS - And the new WBC Heavyweight World Champion... America finally has its heavyweight world champion as Alabama's Deontay Wilder dethroned defending champion Bermane Stiverne via unanimous decision (118-109, 119-108, 120-107) Saturday on SHOWTIME® from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Wilder (33-0, 32 KOs), who had never fought past the fourth round and had knocked out all 32 of his professional opponents, boxed brilliantly behind a stellar jab to become the first U.S.-born heavyweight champion in nearly a decade. The towering 6-foot-7 Tuscaloosa native capitalized on his reach advantage, jabbing consistently to set up a powerful straight right.
Fighting on Hall of Famer Muhammad Ali's 73rd birthday, Wilder became the first undefeated American heavyweight champion since Riddick Bowe in 1992 and the first American champion since Shannon Briggs won the crown in 2006.
Heading into the first heavyweight championship fight at MGM Grand since the infamous Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield ear bite in 1997, there were questions from boxing insiders if Wilder, who had never been truly tested, could handle the power of a true heavyweight and last in the later rounds. But Wilder answered those questions with a disciplined game plan, landing more than double the total punches and throwing 420 jabs to Stiverne's 139.
Stiverne (24-2-1, 21 KOs) was able to stagger Wilder with a few shots, but he did not throw enough jabs or cut off the ring effectively. Wilder was allowed to circle the ring and pop his jab at will. Stiverne landed just 39 jabs compared to Wilder's 120.