Bermane Stiverne has become the first heavyweight champion of Haitian descent after winning the WBC strap via a sixth round knockout of Chris Arreola.
Stiverne, born in Haiti before being raised in Canada and now fighting out of America, twice had his opponent on the canvas before referee Jack Reiss correctly called a halt to proceedings, with Arreola out on his feet and absorbing heavy blows.
Up until then it had been a competitive rematch between the two.
Unlike many heavyweight fights of recent times, they were prepared to frequently exchange inside the ring at the Galen Centre in Los Angeles.
But a stunning right hand from Stiverne caught his opponent flush and sent him spiralling towards a fourth career defeat.
The first round set the tone for most of the early rounds.
With the Haitian disadvantaged by the smaller ring, he spent much of his time fighting off the ropes as Arreola poured in.
It was a conscious plan, drawing his opponent in and taking minimal punishment before using his superior speed to counter-attack through body shots.
It was the American who felt the first meaningful blows. Stiverne, left hand down by his hips, burst an uppercut through Arreola’s defence which caught his attention shortly before the round was over.
However, it didn’t deter the 33-year-old, who continually pinned Stiverne on the ropes over the next few rounds and unleashed groups of powerful shots. Success only came occasionally, a short right seemingly catching the attention in round two, but Arreola continued to be caught with counters.
A fierce pace soon died down, which suited Stiverne’s more technical style.
The Don King-promoted fighter is exceptionally quick for a heavyweight and used that speed to his advantage, firing in quick jabs and moving quickly as Arreola struggled to find any scoring shots to appease the ringside judges.
The angle of his jabs appeared to be causing Arreola problems. Firing briskly from the hip, Arreola’s lack of head movement made him a static target which Stiverne found with ease.
Stiverne closed the show in reasonably surprising fashion in round six. Again with his back to the ropes, he unleashed a sweeping right hand, catching Arreola straight on the temple and scrambling his senses. Referee Reiss allowed his to continue, though he looked unsteady and soon tasted the canvas again from the follow-up attack.
Another eight count was observed, but a cluster of unanswered blows forced Reiss to intervene and hand the belt to Stiverne.
The 35-year-old, who is promoted by Don King, is now mandated to defend his title against Deontay Wilder, the fearsome American who has knocked out all 31 opponents.
This defeat signals a dead end for Arreola, whose four losses have all come against world level opposition – Stiverne twice, Tomasz Adamek and Vitali Klitschko. Despite being in the best shape possible, he fell short once again and will exceed expectations should he appear at this level again.
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