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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The Texans didn't have an answer for Derrick Henry. Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Romeo Crennel made a valorous call that might have costed the Houston Texans from winning their second consecutive game on Sunday. Up by seven with 1:50 left in the fourth quarter, Crennel decided to call a two-point conversion following Deshaun Watson's one-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks.

During the two-point conversion, Watson had a look at an open Randall Cobb, but Titans' defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons got a hand on the ball to deflect the pass. The failed conversion allowed the Titans to take a 42-36 victory over the Texans inside Nissan Stadium. Tennessee scored 13 unanswered points, which included a seven-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill to A.J. Brown to send the game into overtime.

"I think I would do it again," Crennel said during his media availability on Monday. "You are on the road against a divisional opponent who is undefeated, and if you could get that two-point conversion — you shut the door on them. We had a guy open, but unfortunately, the ball got tipped and we did not make it. I would do it again because it was a good choice."

The decision to not kick the field goal caused somewhat of an uproar, but it is understandable why Crennel made the call. Crennel had faith in Watson to put the Texans in a position to close the game, similar to his 4th-and-4 call during last week's victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In the end, Crennel's risky decisions could stem from the lack of faith he has in the Texans' depleted defense.

Houston's defense hit an all-time low against the Titans. They gave up a franchise-worst 601 total yards — with Derrick Henry accounting for 212 yards on 22 carries. But despite their struggles against the run, the Texans' secondary were just as faulty. They gave up a total of 338 yards through the air and allowed Tannehill to go 8-for-9 down the field during the Titans' final drive of regulation.

Had Houston's defense made a stop during the closing seconds of the fourth quarter, the Texans could have ended the game 2-0 under their interim head coach.

"I wanted to go ahead and get the two points — I felt like that would have put the game out of reach for them," Crennel said. "If we had gotten it, we would have been in much better shape. But we did not get it. We did not perform well in overtime, and they [Titans] won the game."

Following Sunday's heartbreaking loss, Texans safety Justin Reid said it best, "Had we converted on the two-point conversion, this would be a totally different conversation. So it is what it is."

Up next, the 1-5 Texans will look to bounce back from defeat against the 4-1 Green Bay Packers, inside NRG Stadium on Sunday. Kick-off is at 12:00 PM CT.

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