Bermane Stiverne and Deontay Wilder had their final confrontation at today’s weigh-in before they clash tomorrow night at the MGM Grand over the WBC heavyweight title. Its been a long time since American heavyweights have garnered this much attention. But who will emerge victorious?
PREDICTION: In an American heavyweight landscape in dire need of younger talent, Deontay Wilder would be a God-send. He has the physique of a world-class athlete, loves to talk and engage the media, and possesses lethal power. But under these great qualities lies some glaring flaws. With the exception of the Malik Scott win, Wilder has feasted on sub-par competition his entire career, resulting in over 5 years of fights without going more than four rounds. As a direct result, his punching technique has become stagnant — Wilder throws wide shots and tends to keep his left low, resulting in him occasionally getting tagged with right hands by inferior opposition.
I don’t buy the idea that Wilder’s competition has been so bad for half a decade simply because he was a late-comer to the sport. Call it a hunch, but based on some amateur footage and the sparring clips vs. David Haye, I theorize that Wilder holds a chin that’s not quite made to take heavyweight punches. Stiverne has the experience of fighting taller guys, and you can see from the pics that the height disparity is not that pronounced. I see Stiverne getting Wilder in serious trouble with an overhand right, and silencing the “Bomb Squad” chants with a left hook. STIVERNE KO5
LEO SANTA CRUZ: 121.5
JESUS RUIZ: 122
PREDICTION: Life is good for Santa Cruz. The man is getting paid $750,000 to defend his WBC super bantamweight title against a fighter not even ranked by that sanctioning body. Santa Cruz said at the weigh-in he wants either Abner Mares or Guillermo Rigondeaux next. If I were a betting man, I say Mares gets the call. As for this fight, the talent disparity ensures Santa Cruz will have minimal problems. SANTA CRUZ TKO4
AMIR IMAM: 140
FIDEL MALDONADO: 139
PREDICTION: Book this one as the sleeper fight of the night. Here are two prospects primed to be contenders with an impressive win Saturday night. Maldonado is a solid pro all-around, but Imam has shown flashes of exceptional talent. He has an educated jab, good power in both fists, and a size advantage for the weight class (5’11). Maldonado is no pushover but he’s outgunned here. IMAM TKO7
SHO EXTREME WEIGH-IN RESULTS
CESAR QUINONEZ (139) VS. JOAN VALENZUELA (140)
VYACHESLAV SHABRANSKYY (177) VS. GARRETT WILSON (178)
ERIC MOLINA (241.5) VS. RAPHAEL ZUMBANO (241)