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Anthony Joshua can put his feet up this weekend and check out the opposition.
This weekend, all eyes are on WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, who steps into the spotlight for a mandatory defence against the man he ripped the belts away from in 2015, Bermane Stiverne.
Here’s our boxing odds expert Adrian Clarke with his thoughts on the bout in Brooklyn…
Take away The Bronze Bomber’s filthy, monstrous right hand and the critics say you’ve got a pretty average unbeaten world heavyweight champion defending his title on Saturday night.
Personally, I think that’s harsh.
While it’s indisputable that Deontay Wilder’s reign as the WBC king has been unmemorable, it’s unfair to label him a one-trick pony.
I believe there’s a relatively accomplished boxer hiding behind that devastating right hook if, and when, he needs to use those skills.
To gain full respect though, the 32-year-old Alabaman desperately needs a proper fight; one that takes him to the edge and back.
— Deontay Wilder (@BronzeBomber) November 2, 2017
Joshua’s status as a global superstar was earned thanks to an epic victory against Wladimir Klitschko, a duel that took him to the brink – but there has been no such drama for The Bronze Bomber.
Of his five low-key defences against cannon fodder Eric Molina, Johann Duhaupas, Artur Szpilka, Chris Arreola and Gerald Washington, he has performed just fine, winning easily.
But with the exception of a stunning one punch KO of Szpilka – in the closest of those scraps –sporting drama never bothered to show up.
It’s been too mundane, so it’s high time we saw Wilder up against some proper opposition.
In fairness to the American, he isn’t dodging anyone.
He agreed to fight the incredibly dangerous Alexander Povetkin in Russia last year, only for the home fighter to fail a drugs test. And the same thing happened recently when unbeaten Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz was forced to step aside because of a drugs ban.
So the 38-0 champion finds himself up against Bermane Stiverne for the second time, the only person that’s ever taken him to points.
Will it go the distance again? I very much doubt it.
Stiverne was one of the weakest heavyweight champions of all-time and hasn’t fought for two years. When he did, he was rank awful against a journeyman called Derric Rossy, scraping to a scruffy points win.
Apart from dining out on the fact he’s the only boxer to take Wilder the distance, quite what he’s done to earn this rematch is a mystery only the World Boxing Council can answer.
For the record it should be noted that the champ broke his fearsome right hand early on in their last clash, lowering his chances of taking the stoppage.
So if he’s fully fit for this one in New York, I envisage Wilder blowing Stiverne and his ring rust away between the 5th and 10th rounds. If he doesn’t, he will score another easy points win anyway.
.@BronzeBomber rolls with the punches but only so many can be absorbed.
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) October 31, 2017
With the AJ fight looming on the horizon I do anticipate the giant American trying hard to conjure up a statement victory.
If he does, it could guarantee an extra ‘0’ on his pay cheque for that appetising and inevitable clash of the Titans.
While I see Joshua beating him, there is no question he could easily ruin the Englishman’s perfect record with one clean swing of his right.
The Londoner has never faced anyone with Wilder’s knockout power, and in recent outings, we’ve seen just how green and vulnerable he can be.
Your money is safe on Wilder this weekend. There won’t be a shock in Brooklyn on Saturday night.
It’s how he wins that interests me most.
Should he conjure up a destructive KO, the calls for a mega unification fight will grow much, much louder – and this will be good for Wilder, and the sport of boxing.
We need to see AJ up against this dangerous WBC champion. It’s going to be unbelievably explosive.
Grosvenor Sport Prediction:
Wilder to win (at 1/25)