Heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder delivered a massive beating to game Johann Duhaupas, who took enormous punishment but never went down before being stopped in the 11th round Saturday night at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama.
With the partisan crowd of 8,471 roaring for him, Wilder, who is from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, took it to Duhaupas round after round. By the time the fight was stopped, Duaupas' face was a bloody, black-and-blue mess from taking so many clean punches as Wilder (35-0, 34 KOs) retained his world title for the second time in a Premier Boxing Champions main event that was the first heavyweight title bout on NBC in prime time in 30 years.
"It's tough fighting at home because you want to entertain the crowd. The people come out and they paid their hard-earned money, so they definitely want to see a show, and didn't you all get a show tonight? Oh, my God," an excited Wilder told the crowd from the ring after the fight.
Yes, he gave the crowd a show, albeit a one-sided one. He was a huge favorite against the unknown Frenchman. Although Duhaupas was dominated, got busted up and eventually was stopped for the first time, he showed tremendous grit and landed enough punches to raise noticeable swelling under Wilder's left eye in the second round.
Wilder, whose corner did a great job of controlling the swelling, cut Duhaupas on the bridge of the nose in the first round and things never got much better for him. He bulled forward against Wilder but took loads of clean punches for his trouble.
Wilder landed almost as many punches as Duhaupas threw. According to CompuBox punch statistics, Wilder connected on 326 of 587 blows (56 percent); Duhaupas landed only 98 of 332 (30 percent).
Duhaupas (32-3, 20 KOs), 34, the fourth fighter from France to fight for a heavyweight world title, continually walked into right hands and left hooks and ate numerous uppercuts in a fight that had plenty of action. Wilder had a big fifth round when he went uppercut crazy and had Duhaupas in trouble in the final minute.
Wilder was so dominant he found time to play to the crowd in the sixth round as he shuffled across the ring in the final seconds. He continued to dole out punishment in the seventh round, after which referee Jack Reiss went to Duhaupas' corner and told him he had to show something or he would stop the bout.
The 6-foot-7, 229-pound Wilder unleashed a sustained flurry late in the 10th round that drove the 6-foot-5, 236-pound Duhaupas back in another big round, after which Reiss had the ringside doctor go to Duhaupas' corner to examine him.
He was allowed to come out for the 11th round, and Wilder finished him off. He drove Duhaupas back toward the ropes as he landed about a dozen unanswered punches, forcing Reiss to step in at 55 seconds.
"Wilder's a strong puncher, but I was also ready to go the distance," Duhaupas said. "I don't think the referee should have stopped the fight. I was defending myself and moving. I don't know why he stopped the fight. Yes, I was bleeding but it was not affecting me in any way. I have never been stopped before in a fight and there's a reason for that. It was disappointing he choose to stop it.
"I trained hard for this fight but only trained five weeks, which for me is not enough time. I was still fighting a good fight and, again, I don't think the referee should have stopped it."
While the fight lasted perhaps a bit longer than most expected, the result was the expected Wilder blowout. He was ahead 100-90 on one scorecard while the two other judges had Wilder ahead 99-91, both having given Duhaupas only the fourth round.
But Wilder gave Duhaupas credit for his toughness.
"He did everything we expected him to do," Wilder said. "We knew he was tough. We knew he was mentally tough. We knew he was going to come. That's why you can't criticize nobody you don't know. The most scariest people are the ones you don't know.
"He got a hell of chin. When [you're] fighting for a world title it brings a different kind of beast, a bit different animal out of fighters. They come to get it all whether they home or on the road. You got to give him credit. He definitely has my respect. He was very strong and I see why he's never been stopped before. I was prepared to go all 12 rounds."
The 29-year-old Wilder, a 2008 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist and the first American heavyweight titleholder since Shannon Briggs lost his belt in 2007, has only gone the distance once before, and that was in January when he routed Bermane Stiverne to win the belt. Wilder made his first defense in June, also in Birmingham, and although he was badly hurt at one point, he knocked out heavy underdog Eric Molina in the ninth round.
Wilder has a mandatory defense due against former titlist Alexander Povetkin (29-1, 21 KOs), of Russia, in a bout that many expect to be Wilder's next fight, although Povetkin is risking his mandatory status with a fight against Mariusz Wach on Nov. 4 in Russia.
If Wilder can survive the mandatory bout, the heavyweight fight the world wants to see is a unification fight with recognized world champion Wladimir Klitschko (64-3, 54 KOs), the lineal champion who also holds the three other major belts. Klitschko, who easily beat Povetkin in a one-sided decision in 2013, has held a world title for 9½ years (second-longest in division history) and made 18 defenses (third-most in division history).
"Wilder is a good fighter. I think he is tough and hit me with some good shots, but I also think he should have more preparation to go to the next level," Duhaupas said. "He can compete with Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin, but he needs to train hard and have a strong game plan."
The fight with Klitschko is the one Wilder is asked about all the time, and one he said he wants.
"Hopefully, sometime end of next year," he said. "We got to get these mandatories out of the way.
"People gotta understand. They got to stay patient. This is a process and a business. But as long as I keep winning, which I will, and he keep winning, that should come around real soon, and we can have an undisputed heavyweight champ of the world, which is me, baby."