The 29 year-old became the first Stateside top division title holder since Shannon Briggs way back in 2007, but lost his perfect knockout record in the process as Stiverne showed a granite chin in taking Wilder the distance.
Despite a wobble at the end of the second round, Stiverne was seldom troubled to the point where he looked likely to go down or be halted in the fight, and in the end Wilder settled for seeing out the contest without another stoppage.
Using his superior height and jab, Wilder took a 120-107, 119-108 and 118-109 victory on the scorecards, with my card reading slightly closer at 117-111, although the result was never really in doubt from the eighth round onwards.
A summer showdown with Wladimir Klitschko may come just a little too soon for ‘The Bronze Bomber’ on Saturday night’s evidence as Wilder will need to settle into being a champion and maybe have one or two defences before sharing a ring with the best heavyweight in the world.
Earlier, Leo Santa Cruz worked a little harder than most thought to dispatch surprise challenger Jesus Ruiz and successfully defend his WBC super-bantamweight title for the fourth time.
The 26 year-old won all bar one round on my card until Santa Cruz pinned Ruiz on the ropes in the eighth and forced Kenny Bayless to step in and end the fight to the Mexican’s protest.
Afterwards Santa Cruz, now 29-0-1 with 17 KO’s, called out the likes of Guillermo Rigondeaux, Abner Mares and Scott Quigg for his next outing and stated that he only wants to fight the best after facing some criticism for his recent opposition.
In the Showtime opener, talented light-welterweight Amir Imam dropped Fidel Maldonado Jr. four times on his way to a fifth round stoppage to improve his record to 16-0 with 14 KO’s. Imam himself was down in round four.