By: Eric Lunger
Deontay Wilder (38-0, 37 KOs) made his second appearance at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NYC, Saturday night, headlining a full PBC fight card and making his sixth WBC world championship defense. As the fight-world rumor mill has been grinding on a possible Wilder vs. Anthony Joshua unification fight for 2018, Wilder had a chance to defend his belt and make statement to the rest of the world regarding his readiness to face the British champion.
Photo Credit: Deontay Wilder Twitter Account
Bermane Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 KOs), as tough and durable as they come, lost his belt to Wilder in a twelve-rounder in 2015. At 39 years of age, this was likely the rugged Haitian-American’s last bid to stay relevant in the heavyweight division. Stiverne hit the scales at 254 lbs., almost 15 pounds heavier than in the first fight. In the lead up to this bout, Stiverne claimed that a radical late-minute weight-cut had sapped his reflexes and punch speed in his first clash with Wilder.
Wilder came out with a snapping jab to which Stiverne had no answer. Plodding forward, Stiverne ate jab after jab. With 50 seconds left in the opening frame, Wilder followed a jab with a laser right hand through the guard, hurling Stiverne back and down onto the canvas. The challenger beat the count at eight but a further Wilder onslaught dropped Stiverne again. Rising to his feet once more, Stiverne caught two brutal punches from the Champion, and was out as he fell. It was a brutal demonstration, as though Wilder was exorcising the demons of three frustrating PED cancelled fights. Wilder called out Anthony Joshua in the post-fight interview, and he demonstrated his integrity with his magnanimous words for Bermane.
There were two bouts on the televised undercard. In the co-main event, fan-favorite Shawn Porter (27-2-1, 17 KOs) took on Adrian Granados (18-5-2, 12 KOs) in a twelve round welterweight battle.
Porter was looking to get back into contention in the division after his 2016 loss to Keith Thurman, while Granados was coming off a split decision loss to Adrien Broner in February and hoping for a title shot if he could get past Porter.
With much at stake for both fighters, fireworks were expected — and the bout did not disappoint.
As usual, Porter was dynamic, aggressive, reckless at times, and always entertaining. Granados showed real skill and grit, using his feet to blunt Porter’s relentless attack and often successfully managing the distance to counter Porter. But beyond that, it was a tough and exciting bout from opening bell to final bell. There were wild swings of action in each round and both fighters sparkled at times.
Porter controlled more of the action, and scored with the jab and the left hook.
Granados tried to use his timing and footwork to counter Porter as he came in, and while he landed some good shots, he never had his opponent in serious trouble. Porter, on the other hand, punished Granados all night — especially when he followed the jab and pinned Granados against the ropes.
Unexpectedly, Porter drew some boos in the final round as he backpedaled and ran out the clock. The three score cards came in 117-111 for Porter. Post-fight, it was clear that Porter injured his left hand, which explains Porter taking his foot off the gas in the later rounds.
Earlier in the evening, super lightweight prospect Sergey Lipinets (12-0, 10 KOs) of Kazakhstan faced off against the well-seasoned Akihiro Kondo (29-6-1, 19 KOs) of Japan, with the vacant IBF world super lightweight title at stake. Kondo was somewhat of an unknown proposition, having never fought outside of Japan, but ranked Number 3 by the IBF in the division. Kondo came out aggressively, working his jab and fighting on his front foot. Lipinets consistently threw hooks to the body, but as the rounds ticked by, Kondo began to score and to dominate in stretches, catching the Kazakh twice with strong right hands. An accidental head butt opened a cut on Lipinets’s forehead. Though bloody, the cut had no real impact on the bout.
Lipinets boxed cleanly and intelligently in the last three rounds, utilizing a snapping jap and effective footwork.
Ultimately, Kondo didn’t have quite enough offensive variety to win the close rounds, and Lipinets scored from a variety of angles and with a variety of punches. Both fighters exhibited a high level of boxing skill, artistry even. The judges scored the fight unanimously for Lipinets (118-110, 117-111, 117-111), and the crowd registered its surprise at the wide scores. Lipinets was forced to show mettle in the championship rounds, and he should be a better fighter for it.