BOXING UPDATE

Wilder KO’s Stiverne…Now What?

Deontay Wilder came up with a big win. Showtime Boxing

The stage was set for a rematch of their 2015 WBC Heavyweight title fight. Bermane Stiverne (25-2-1, 21KOs) was now the challenger, and Deontay Wilder (38-0, 37 KOs) was entering his sixth title defense after defeating Stiverne in his only win by decision. Because of that, Wilder wanted a knockout win badly. Stiverne was coming in 10 days shy of not having fought in two years, with his last fight the loss to Wilder. Needless to say, each guy had a lot riding on this fight. Not to mention, the heavyweight division is in the midst of a small renaissance.

Each guy came to the ring with a rapper rapping the entrance music on the ringwalk with him. Both also wore gladiator-inspired ring garb. After the introductions, it was time to get down to business. The crowd at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn and television audience were all set to enjoy a classic big man boxing match.

Wilder opened the fight pumping jab after jab. Not the quick, stiff Larry Holmes jab, or a Lennox Lewis jab that feels more like a straight right. Wilder’s jab is a mix of a range finder, and a chin checker. He wanted to test Stiverne’s reaction time as well. Stiverne obliged meekly responding with a few punches of his own. It only took Wilder two minutes into the fight to nail his timing and knock Stiverne down with a classic left-right combo. After he got up, Wilder stood there waiting for him, fists at his side in the center of the ring as if Stiverne was his son and came home after the teacher called about his behavior. Dazed and confused, Stiverne approached Wilder shuffling his fists and unsure of what to do. He threw a couple punches which were returned with fury. Down he went again. This time, the left started his downfall. Wilder was circling as the ref counted like a great white shark smelling the blood of a young seal. After Stiverne rose up and the fight was cleared by the ref to resume, Wilder breached the water as if he was the star of a Shark Week special. He swerved in, shoulder-feinted, and struck Stiverne with a vicious right-left-right combo. The ref stepped in to call off the fight, Wilder almost swung him off his back like a small child getting tossed from a carnival ride. The massacre had come to an end.

The new questions are: When will Anthony Joshua fight Wilder? Will Joseph Parker defend his portion of the heavyweight crown against either of them? Will the promoters find a way to make this a triangle of fights to determine the undisputed, unified heavyweight champion? These are the questions fight fans want to have answered immediately. Wilder called out Joshua after the fight, so that’ll hopefully jumpstart the proceedings of that potential fight. As for now, let’s celebrate the heavyweight division being back up to par and the fact that Wilder is the American heavyweight champ we’ve been longing for.

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Houston couldn't keep up

Astros fall to Blue Jays as Toronto gets homer-happy

Houston's bats couldn't keep up with Toronto's Saturday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With an offensive clinic in the opener on Friday night, which helped them handily defeat the Blue Jays, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park Saturday with a chance to secure another series. Toronto had other plans, though, reversing roles with Houston by getting big home runs to even the series.

Final Score: Blue Jays 8, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 17-16, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Steven Matz (5-2)

Losing Pitcher: Cristian Javier (3-1)

Toronto flips the script and turns on their offense against Javier

Toronto flipped the script from the night before early in this middle game of the series, dealing damage to Cristian Javier, who so far in 2021 had been able to limit his amount of earned runs. After retiring the first four batters he faced, a one-out walk in the top of the second set up the Blue Jays' first hit of the night, a two-run home run by Cavan Biggio, giving them a 2-0 lead over Houston.

After a leadoff home run made it a 3-0 score, Javier would deal with the fallout of more walks in the top of the third, issuing two to set up a two-out two-RBI double to give the Jays a commanding 5-0 advantage. Javier would battle back and complete five full innings, getting one out into the sixth before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to make the call to the bullpen. His final line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 2 HR, 91 P.

Alvarez keeps mashing as Houston tries to claw back into it

Javier would exit with at least some runs on the board in support of him, with Yordan Alvarez hitting a two-run opposite-field homer in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead to three runs. Alvarez accounted for another run in the next inning, coming through with an RBI-single to make it 5-3, which is where the game stood as Andre Scrubb would take over in the top of the sixth.

Scrubb finished that inning for Javier and returned for a 1-2-3 seventh to keep it a two-run game. Bryan Abreu was the next reliever, and he, too, was able to retire the Blue Jays in order in the top of the eighth. The Astros continued to chip away at Toronto's lead, getting another run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI by Yuli Gurriel to make it 5-4 heading to the ninth.

Toronto evens the series

Brooks Raley entered to try and keep it a one-run game with a clean inning, but instead, two runners would reach on a walk and error before Joe Smith would enter to try and strand them. Instead, a two-out home run put the game back out of reach at 8-4, with Houston coming up empty in the bottom of the inning, setting up a rubber match in the finale.

Up Next: This series's third and final game will be an afternoon start of 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Zack Greinke (2-1, 3.76 ERA) will try to add more wins to his record for Houston, while Nate Pearson will be making his 2021 debut for Toronto.

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