Heavyweight Deontay Wilder has still never been past the fourth round, and he couldn't care less.
Wilder crushed Malik Scott, his good friend, in the first round to win their world-title elimination fight Saturday night at the Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, on the undercard of junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia's title defense against Mauricio Herrera.
With the victory, Wilder (31-0, 31 KOs) is now the mandatory challenger for an alphabet world title, one that was recently vacated by Vitali Klitschko -- who elected to focus his attention on politics in his native Ukraine -- and which will be filled on May 10 by the winner of the rematch between Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola.
The Stiverne-Arreola winner must face Wilder next.
Wilder, 28, wasted little time notching his 18th first-round knockout. He felt Scott out with a strong left jab and kept pumping it until unleashing a right hand, his best punch. The right hand did not even land flush. Instead it caught Scott on the glove, but was powerful enough to drop him along the ropes, where referee Roberto Ramirez Jr. counted him out at 1 minute, 36 seconds.
"I got power, I got natural power," said Wilder, the 2008 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist and a native of Tuscaloosa, Ala. "It's all-natural Alabama power. I'm blessed. My power is crazy. [The right hand] is like a missile."
Scott (36-2-1, 13 KOs), 33, of Philadelphia, never saw the shot coming as he dropped to 1-2 in his past three fights. The other loss was a highly controversial sixth-round knockout to Dereck Chisora in England last July.
This knockout, however, was not controversial.
"America has the future of the heavyweight division, no question about it," said Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer, Wilder's promoter. "This was impressive. The title fight is the next stop and I would love to do it from the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Bring those heavyweight titles home. This is the next Mike Tyson. He's going to bring all these titles back home.
"Every single time this guy delivers. He is ready to fight for the title. He was born ready."
The 6-foot-7, 227-pound Wilder said he is not concerned that he has still never really been tested as a professional. He wants the title shot.
"All the testing is done in the gym to come here and make it look easy," said Wilder. "I don't care if I don't go past four rounds. I don't care if I don't solve all the questions people have on me. I'm not trying to prove nothin'.
"I'm on one mission and that's to be the heavyweight champion of the world and unify all the belts in the division and bring them back to America, baby. That's my mission."
Lopez stops Ponce De Leon again
Puerto Rico's Juan Manuel Lopez, the darling of the hometown fans, did it again, scoring an early knockout of fellow former junior featherweight and featherweight titleholder Daniel Ponce De Leon of Mexico.
Six years after knocking out fellow southpaw Ponce De Leon in the first round to win a junior featherweight world title, they met again, this time at junior lightweight, and Lopez stopped him in the second round of what most considered a must-win fight for him after last June's fourth-round destruction by Mikey Garcia in a world title fight. That loss had only been the latest in a series of fights in which Lopez had looked very shaky, and which had some calling for his retirement.
Ponce De Leon, also in need of a marquee victory after having been knocked out two fights ago and losing his featherweight belt by a ninth-round knockout against Abner Mares last May, nearly avenged his defeat to Lopez.
Ponce De Leon scored a hard knockdown with a left hand halfway through the second round of the scheduled 10-round fight. But Lopez rallied to score a pair of knockdowns and get the stoppage in an early candidate for round of the year.
"He gave me a strong punch but I was a little bit off balance and I got up," Lopez said through a translator. "I wanted to demonstrate to the fans that I was going to come back. I got up and I knew what I had to do. I got up, looked at my corner and they said to be calm, and that's what I did."
The 30-year-old Lopez (34-3, 31 KOs) shook off the knockdown and decked Ponce De Le Leon with a right hook. He was unsteady when the fight resumed and was quickly down again from a series of blows, dropping to his knees as he tried to grab onto Lopez. Moments later, as Lopez was firing away with Ponce De Leon trapped on the ropes, referee Luis Pabon stepped in and waved off the fight at 2 minutes, 44 seconds.
Ponce De Leon (45-6, 35 KOs), 33, who was throwing a punch when the fight was stopped, complained about the stoppage by the Puerto Rican referee.
"If you see the replay, I'm blocking the shots and the referee came in too early," Ponce De Leon said through a translator. "The referee should not have stopped the fight."