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Wilder vs Stiverne II: Fight preview and matchup

Deontay Wilder and Bermane Stiverne headline this Saturday on Showtime.

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Deontay Wilder

Deontay Wilder v Chris Arreola Photo by David A. Smith/Getty Images

Record: 38-0 (37 KO) ... Streak: W38 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 6'7" / 83" ... Age: 32

Thoughts: Let’s go back to night-of thoughts for Wilder’s title reign, since defeating Bermane Stiverne for the WBC title in January 2015.

def. Eric Molina (2015-06-13)

“Deontay Wilder scored four knockdowns and was ahead wide on the scorecards when the fight was over, but the unbeaten American didn't exactly blow through underdog challenger Eric Molina ... Wilder was cautious early, and Molina was comfortable with that, looking to bait Wilder into something big, particularly looking for, it seemed, a big uppercut shot if Wilder was caught open and leaning in. That punch never really became a factor, but Molina did do some good body work, survived Wilder's best shots for a while, and was able to land a few left hooks and right hands upstairs, too.”

def. Johann Duhaupas (2015-09-26)

“Wilder had to work for the stoppage win, but make no mistake, he won every round and did so convincingly. He had Duhaupas hurt a handful of times and was able to showboat some over the second half of the fight, delighting the home fans in Birmingham.

“Duhaupas deserves credit for doing better than expected, in that he lasted longer than expected. He showed some serious toughness and took some bombs from the big American, but he was outgunned the whole way. Early in the fight, Duhaupas did what he should have, walking down Wilder and looking for power punching openings. Though he had some moderate success, Wilder was doing more damage anyway, and established a pretty nice jab off the back foot.”

def. Artur Szpilka (2016-01-16)

“Deontay Wilder made a successful third defense of his WBC heavyweight title tonight in Brooklyn, crushing Artur Szpilka with a monstrous right hand knockout in the ninth round, after battling through arguably his toughest fight to date as a professional. ... For now, the story is that Deontay Wilder did it again, and he proved he can handle some adversity. Though he led 78-74, 78-74, and 77-75 on the cards when the fight was stopped, this bout was plenty competitive, and Wilder himself said as much. Szpilka gave him a test. And he passed.”

def. Chris Arreola (2016-07-16)

“Wilder mostly had his way here, including a knockdown of Arreola late in the fourth round ... Arreola started very slowly, but did get himself going a bit as the fight wore on. Arreola did land an occasional decent right hand, but he was overall outclassed here, which is what was expected. This is expected to be the final world title shot the 35-year-old veteran will get...”

def. Gerald Washington (2017-02-25)

“Deontay Wilder started slow — very slow — tonight in Birmingham, Alabama, but once he uncorked his right hand, it was game over for Gerald Washington. Wilder arguably lost all of the first four rounds just on Washington dictating the tempo behind a solid jab, and Wilder simply not doing much of anything, but a single right hand in round five pretty much ended the fight, dropping Washington and putting him on bad legs.”

I think about these fights now, even after reading back my own words, and outside of a flash here and there, I don’t really remember them, other than the Szpilka fight. Because Wilder’s title reign has just not been memorable. And here’s the thing: it’s not his fault.

He tried to go to Russia to fight Alexander Povetkin. Povetkin failed a drug test. He tried to fight Luis Ortiz. Ortiz failed a drug test. Unless you believe there is a vast conspiracy keeping Wilder’s potentially dangerous opponents sidelined via bogus testing, you can’t blame Wilder or his team, at least not for all of it.

Personally, I think Wilder is a pretty good fighter — better than some of his harsher critics believe, but not as good as his biggest fans probably believe. The one thing all of us can agree on is this: he’s got an eraser right hand, and that makes him more than just “dangerous” against anyone. Anyone.

He beat Stiverne once and will almost surely do it again. The only thing I can see being a problem is if Wilder has become too complacent, and looks past this fight to potential matchups with Dillian Whyte and, ultimately, Anthony Joshua in 2018.

Bermane Stiverne

Bermane Stiverne v Chris Arreola Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Record: 25-2-1 (21 KO) ... Streak: W1 ... Last 5: 4-1 ... Last 10: 8-1-1 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 6'2" / 77" ... Age: 39

Thoughts: Stiverne ever holding a world title comes down to a few things. For one, it speaks a bit to the lack of quality heavyweights in the sport when Vitali Klitschko’s belt was officially vacated in 2014, giving Stiverne a vacant title fight.

But bigger than that is it reminds us of the WBC’s ultimately fruitless attempts to crown Chris Arreola “the world heavyweight champion.” Arreola had his shot against Vitali in 2009 and was smoked. They put the “Silver” title on the line between Arreola and Stiverne in 2013, and Stiverne pretty much dominated over 12.

And then, with the belt vacant in 2014, he was given another fight with Stiverne, because Arreola had beaten TV creation Seth Mitchell four months after losing to Stiverne the first time. The second time around, Stiverne stopped Arreola in six, and became WBC champion.

But unless Stiverne pulls a pretty huge upset on Saturday, that’s going to be his place in boxing history, a footnote, the answer to a trivia question, especially if Wilder hangs on to the belt for a while. “Who held the WBC heavyweight title between Vitali Klitschko and Deontay Wilder?” That’s Bermane Stiverne. And that’s about the whole story.

Stiverne claims he was ill when Wilder routed him over 12 in January 2015, but he didn’t look very good 10 months later when he returned to action to beat journeyman Derric Rossy, either, and now he hasn’t fought in two years. Stiverne never should’ve been named mandatory challenger for the WBC title, but it’s boxing.

Matchup Grade: D+. Like last weekend’s Joshua-Takam fight, it is what it is. Wilder is taking care of a mandatory, and you have to be fair to him here: he tried to fight Luis Ortiz, who couldn’t get pass the drug tests. The Stiverne rematch nobody cares about was looming sooner or later, so he might as well take care of it now.

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