All eyes will be on bout number 39 for Deontay Wilder this weekend in Brooklyn. Another KO win, and step closer to a super-fight with Anthony Joshua? Frankie Monkhouse gives the answer...
Anthony Joshua did his part last weekend, beating Carlos Takam in 10 rounds in front of a bumper audience at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff. The humble champion spoke to the masses from inside the ring, telling fans the fight they all want to see against Deontay Wilder has to happen next year.
With AJ laying down the gauntlet, it's now over to Deontay Wilder to continue his winning form, edging closer to a heavyweight unification bout. To achieve that, The Bronze Bomber must deal with opponent Bermane Stiverne. A 38th career knockout win wouldn't hurt either.
Wilder aims to pick up the slack
Wilder continued his devastating form last time out when roaring to a KO win over fellow American Gerald Washington back in February. That was the beaten man's first defeat, but the outcome of the fight was never in doubt, Washington battered into submission on a night that saw the victor hang onto his WBC strap in convincing fashion.
Since making his professional debut in 2008 with a second-round stoppage of Ethan Cox, 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Wilder has been taken the scheduled distance only once in 38 bouts. The spare in that run came in 2015 when none other than Bermaine Stiverne dragged him over 12 rounds. A convincing winner on points at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas - nine rounds, 11 rounds and, harshly, 13 rounds the margins - fight fans are left asking themselves, was it a fluke?
There was certainly no doubt about the result, and there won't be again, Wilder a 1/25 play on the sportsbook, the exchange giving punters slightly more to work with at 1.07. The champion will want to prove a point here though, ensuring Stiverne goes the way of the 37 others. The KO/TKO is 3/10, or you can take a shot at the value and play the repeat, 10/3 on another points cheer, both prices available on the sportsbook.
Stiverne's form means he shouldn't be here
39-year-old Bermane Stiverne isn't untouchable, and of his two career defeats from 28 starts, he was halted in four by Demetrice King early in his career, the fourth of a bout scheduled for eight rounds. No one paid too much attention to that slip-up, and it certainly didn't halt the Las Vegas based fighter's progress.
Stiverne ducks between the ropes with a CV showing 25 wins and one draw against two defeats. The 6ft 2inch orthodox bounced back from that points loss to Wilder with a 10-round win over Derric Rossy. Two things worth mentioning about that fight - it came two years ago and he had to haul himself off the canvas in round one to achieve it. To take the shine off the bare result further, Rossy is now a man who has lost four of his last five.
The formbook of both fighters tells us that Stiverne has no business being in the ring with Wilder contesting a world title. In fact, if he wasn't the only man to take the champion the distance, he wouldn't be anywhere near the arena. That shines through in the betting, 15.00 on the upset. The sportsbook is offering 3/1 on this fight to go the distance, against 1/5 it doesn't.
Challenger can survive early onslaught
This is all about Wilder getting the knockout win. The KO king has a score to settle, and I think he'll have no trouble in getting the job done. An off night first time around vs Stiverne? Who knows, but what I do know is the favourite is a far better fighter this time. More experienced, hitting harder and with something to prove.
Stripping this back to the bare bones, we have an all-conquering world champion in with an opponent who hasn't fought since November 2015, and even then he wasn't too convincing. Nothing more than a pay-day for the underdog, we're having Wilder to win by KO/TKO at 1.23. Not much to get excited about, so take The Bronze Bomber in rounds 7-12 at 15/8 (sportsbook)
Wilder in rounds 7-12 @ 15/8 (sportsbook)