The MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada will host a night of boxing on January 17th headlined by the WBC World Heavyweight title defense by Bermane Stiverne as he faces the challenge of undefeated Deontay Wilder. The co-main event features WBC Super Bantamweight Champion Leo Santa Cruz defending his title against Jesus Ruiz. The card is a co-promotion between Don King and Oscar De La Hoya, and the main card fights will air on Showtime. Both bouts have lines up at 5Dimes Sportsbook. In the Heavyweight encounter, Wilder, who is (32-0) with 32 knock outs, comes in as the slight favorite (-140) over the champion Stiverne, who returns at (+120). Wilder is an impressive physical specimen, and he came to boxing late in life. Despite an Olympic Bronze Medal in 2008, he does not have a long amateur background, and as a professional many critics say he has been highly protected with very few credible opponents in the build up. A review of Wilder’s fights shows he remains an unpolished fighter who tends to get reckless, all the while depending on his near 6’7 inch height, his speed and his big power to bail him out of trouble. It has worked so far, but Stiverne brings a whole lot more to the table than Wilder. Stiverne came up the same way early in his career, but he has taken more risks. In April of 2013, he took a 12 round unanimous decision from Chris Arreloa. Arreola, a solid veteran who was (34-2) at the time and a fighter starting to gather himself for one more run. Arreola’s losses came to Tomasz Adamek and Vitali Klitschko, and at just 33 years old still, Arreola’s plans were derailed. Arreola won an in-between match via KO in the first round, and then he returned to face Stiverne again. This time, the match was for the WBC World Title recently vacated by Vitali Klitschko, so the fight got the best Arreola possible. The winner would be on the main stage in the Heavyweight division with the belt. Stiverne would face the best version of Arreola possible, but he improved on his performance, ending the fight in the sixth round. Those eighteen rounds are more meaningful than anything Wilder has done in his whole career. Santa Cruz, who is in queue for a “big” fight with some of the other title holders at the top of the weight class, finds himself in another match where he is basically notching a win and avoiding ring rust. Sant Cruz is a heavy (-4800) favorite over Ruiz, who is coming back at (+1600). Santa Cruz, an undefeated (28-0-1) is making the fourth defense of the belt he captured back in August of 2013. Ruiz is a solid veteran of the Mexican scene who has an overall (33-5-5) record and is in his first World Title fight. He got here on the strength of a five fight winning streak. Throughout his career he has campaigned mainly as a bantamweight, though he has been at Super Bantmaweight for a good bit and he has won a regional title at that weight class. As far as the production of the show at the MGM Grand, Ruiz has had a couple of fights in the US, but likely nothing of the magnitude of this show, whereas Santa Cruz has been on several big mega-cards, including Mayweather-Maidana 2 in his last outing. Santa Cruz just has to do his job, and hopefully a match with some of the other titleholders, including Scott Quigg (WBA), Carl Frampton (IBF) and Guillermo Rigondeaux (WBO).
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