NEW YORK — Heavyweight world titleholder Deontay Wilder has lost out on the opportunity for two marquee fights because his opponents, Alexander Povetkin last year and Luis “King Kong” Ortiz last month, failed drug tests. The cancellations of the fights left Wilder emotional and upset, particularly the one with the big-punching Ortiz, whom he was supposed to fight on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Wilder instead faced replacement Bermane Stiverne, his mandatory challenger and from whom he took the title by lopsided decision in January 2015.
Wilder was so upset over the change of opponent that at the final pre-fight news conference on Thursday he promised a knockout in graphic terms, saying: “The ambulance better be ready. The medical teams better be ready. The referee better be ready. They better have that towel to be able to throw it in because every blow is going to mean something. … The only thing he’s going to be able to do is pick his spot on the ground where he’s going to lay at.”
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Wilder lived up to his promise and absolutely destroyed Stiverne in the first round before 10,924 to retain his world title for the sixth time.
Stiverne had been the only man to go the distance with Wilder in their first fight, and the one motivation for Wilder in the rematch was the goal to knock him out. He did it, and he did it early. He dropped an out-of-shape Stiverne three times before referee Arthur Mercante waved it off at 2 minutes, 59 seconds.
“So much frustration, it just seemed like my career, it’s been crazy … so many guys using PEDs,” Wilder said after the fight. “I just want to prove that I am the best. I know I am the best but I wanna prove I am the best. One champion, one face, one name, he goes by Deontay Wilder.”
Wilder would have preferred to face Ortiz (27-0, 23 KOs), but he tested positive for two banned diuretics (chlorothaizide, hydrochlorothiazide) in a random urine test conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association on Sept. 22, and was dropped from the fight. He showed up ringside to watch Saturday night.
That left Wilder to face Stiverne, who was scheduled to fight on the undercard before being moved up to the main event.
Stiverne, fighting for only the second time in three years, showed up a portly 254.75 pounds and even though he outweighed Wilder by 34 pounds, it made no difference; he had nothing.
Nothing much happened in the first minute of the opening round, but then Wilder pounded his chest, walked to Stiverne and blasted him with a right hand to the head and knocked him down.
Stiverne beat the count, but Wilder marched to him again and nailed him with another right hand that floored him for the second time.
Mercante could have stopped the fight then, but he allowed it continue. It didn’t last much longer, as Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs), 31, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, hammered Stiverne yet again. He unloaded a brutal four-punch combination — right, left, right and another left — as he was falling to the mat. Stiverne came to rest along the ropes, and Mercante immediately stopped it.
Stiverne looked totally out of it as he was moved to his stool.
“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.”
According to CompuBox, Wilder, who earned $1.4 million, landed 15 of 39 punches (38 percent); Las Vegas-based Haiti native Stiverne (25-3-1, 21 KOs), who turned 39 this week, landed none of his four punches. For that, he was paid $506,250.
The fight Wilder wants — the one boxing fans want — is a title unification showdown with two-belt titleholder Anthony Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs), 28, the hugely popular British fighter who retained his belts for the fourth time last Saturday with a 10th-round knockout of Carlos Takam before an indoor boxing-record crowd of 78,000 at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
“I’ve been waiting on that fight for a long time now. I declare war upon you,” Wilder said as if speaking to Joshua. “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?”
Said promoter Lou DiBella, who also wants to see Wilder face Joshua: “He’ll put Anthony Joshua to sleep. No one has the reach he has. No one has the jab he has. No one has the power he has. Certainly, Anthony Joshua doesn’t have it. Deontay Wilder is the scariest heavyweight on the planet.”
Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing has campaigned for Wilder to first fight British contender Dillian Whyte, but there is little interest in that fight, at least on this side of the pond.
“Stop with this Dillian Whyte s—,” DiBella said. “Who the f— is Dillian Whyte? Come on Eddie, let’s play. You want to do (Joshua-Wilder) at a soccer stadium in the U.K., let’s do it. Deontay Wilder will put Anthony Joshua to sleep the same way he just put Stiverne to sleep. Nobody has that kind of power. Deontay Wilder is Anthony Joshua’s worst nightmare. The winner of Joshua-Wilder is the real heavyweight champion. That fight has to happen. The boxing fans deserve it. We don’t want to wait.”
Whyte (22-1, 16 KOs) outpointed Robert Helenius on the Joshua-Takam undercard and suffered his only loss by seventh-round knockout to Joshua in the fight before he won a world title in 2015.
Wilder wants to dispense with the interim fight and go right to a showdown with Joshua, which is easily the biggest heavyweight fight in boxing and maybe the biggest fight in the sport, period.
“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. Why should I go to England to fight a peasant without the king on the contract? The world want Joshua, the world want Wilder. I want Joshua. Joshua come and see me, baby. “No more dodging, no more dodging, no more excuses. Make the date, don’t wait. I’m too athletic. I told y’all I’m mobile, I’m hostile, I am the king, baby, and no heavyweight can compare to me. I’m very confident in what I do and tonight I showed that.”