Deontay Wilder (35-0, 34 KOs) made unheralded French challenger Johann Duhaupas (32-3, 20 KOs) look every bit the underdog Saturday night at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama, savagely defending his WBC world heavyweight title for the second time with an 11th-round technical-knockout victory.
Aside from a few strong combinations in the first two rounds, there was nothing in this bout for Duhaupas once he caught a few of Wilder's best punches. The bout could've ended much earlier than the 11th, as Duhaupas had nothing to offer after the seventh round.
Bad Left Hook noted Duhaupas' corner probably should've called the bout before the official did:
It was the Tuscaloosa native's second consecutive bout in his home state, the last being a successful title defense over Eric Molina. Wilder showed off his fearsome power and a cool head, per SaturdayNightBoxing.com's Adam Abramowitz:
This was Wilder's third straight bout that has lasted longer than eight rounds after several years of decimating opponents in minutes. Bermane Stiverne, a former heavyweight champion, remains the only boxer to go the distance with Wilder. This was Duhaupas' first stoppage loss, a testament to his record and iron chin.
This was the type of performance the ambitious Wilder, who hopes to become a star on the level of the recently retired Floyd Mayweather Jr., had in mind coming into the bout.
"After Floyd went out, up pops Deontay Wilder. That's the plan," Wilder told ESPN.com's Dan Rafael prior to the bout. "That's always been the plan, and I'm making sure that that plan is played out like it's supposed to. I am the heavyweight champion, and the heavyweights are the cream of the crop and now it's our turn."
Known for his heavy hitting, the Bronze Bomber bloodied Duhaupas in the first round. He caught the challenger flush on the bridge of the nose several times with his big right hand. It wasn't all bad for Duhaupas, who came right at Wilder and tried to press him into the ropes.
He did well to keep Wilder from winding up on his power punches in the first couple of rounds.
Bad Left Hook complimented Duhaupas' brave approach:
The strategy crumbled in the third round. Wilder staggered Duhaupas with a heavy right hook and then began carpet-bombing him with heavy power punches. Somehow, Duhaupas managed to survive the onslaught.
PBC provided a look at the carnage:
Duhaupas found a few openings when Wilder left his hands low and loaded up on the body shots. He also managed to cause some swelling under the champ's left eye, but this was Wilder's fight, much to the delight of the Alabama fans.
PBC noted Duhaupas accomplished something just by making it to the fifth round:
Unfortunately for the Frenchman, it was a round he would probably like to forget. Wilder got in close and landed several huge uppercuts in an extended flurry on the ropes, looking like a freight train powering through tissue paper.
Worn down from so many thunderous blows, Duhaupas had little offense left in him by the sixth round. Wilder could sense his impending victory, throwing in taunts, feints and wild sledgehammer blows without caution.
Bleacher Report's Kelsey McCarson summed it up:
With Duhaupas hanging around, Wilder went headhunting instead of breaking down his opponent. Wilder's power diminished, and his work rate slowed, which was surprising, considering that he's unaccustomed to the later rounds.
ESPN's Brian Campbell admired Duhaupas' ability to withstand punishment:
Wilder finally put the finishing touches on the bout in the 11th round, beating Duhaupas into an obvious stupor with another barrage of power punches and forcing the ref to step in and wave it off. NBC Sports showed his celebration:
There are plenty of things to admire about Wilder's boxing, but All In Magazine's Eric Raskin noted he still holds a tenuous position in the championship circuit:
He often leaves himself open to rebuttal when loading up on power punches. His strength and stamina come into question in the later rounds, although this could've been a case of underestimating the relatively unknown Duhaupas.
There are, of course, questions about the quality of his opponents as well as whether he is capable of lording over the heavyweight division.
Wilder looks the part of a champion but will need to tighten up his technique as he takes on quality opponents. In the meantime, it's a pleasure to watch him work.