This weekend could see America’s seven-year wait for a heavyweight boxing champions come to an end.
Deontay Wilder faces Canadian Bermane Stiverne at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 17 and The Bronze Bomber is the odds-on favourite to lift the belt.
Shannon Briggs was the last US heavyweight to be crowned world champion – holding the WBO version of the belt from November 2006 to June 2007 – but in truth it’s been much longer since anyone from the States made a real name for themselves in the division.
Since Evander Holyfield last held a title in 2001 only John Ruiz, Hasim Rahman, Chris Byrd, Roy Jones Jr and Briggs have held one of the heavyweight straps and of those none have gone on to become household names as the glamour division.
OK, Jones Jr was once considered the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet, but he was at his devastating best at the lighter weights.
Wilder, then, is America’s great hope – at odds of 1/2 to take Stiverne’s WBA title – and given the brutal way he has worked his way up the rankings, the 29-year-old could be on the cusp of greatness.
With Wilder himself admitting that he initially got into boxing as a way to pay his disabled daughter’s medical bills – his first loves were basketball and American football – little was expected of him at first.
This all changed with a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and since then, while he is yet to face anyone of top tier opposition, his pro career has been frightening.
A record of 31 wins and 31 knockouts from 31 fights – with 18 of those KOs coming in the first round – shows the sort of power Wilder possesses.
Stiverne will mark a step up in quality for the Alabama man but should he dispatch the champion in the same manner as his previous opponents, then future clashes with the likes of Wladimir Klitschko, Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua are a must!
Check out Wilder’s devastating power in this montage:
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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