Bermane Stiverne wasn’t supposed to be challenging for a heavyweight title shot in 2017, but here he is, two days away from such an opportunity, and he’s talking a big game.
The Haiti native, who was upended by Deontay Wilder in January 2015, is coming to reclaim his title in a rematch Saturday, only it was Luis Ortiz who originally had the assignment.
But when the Cuban failed his performance-enhancing drugs test, the WBC decided it was time for Wilder to fulfill his mandatory, and meet the man he beat to win that very title.
Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 knockouts) is the only fighter to last the distance with Wilder (38-0, 37 KOs), but the fight wasn’t competitive. Stiverne blamed a litany of issues, chiefly dehydration, for his lackluster performance, and promises this time around, it will be much different.
“Deontay Wilder has been trying to duck me,” Stiverne claimed Thursday. “He’s been giving a lot of excuses about my career. He should be happy if I’ve been inactive. He should be jumping in the air. Everyone knows that means he’s scared. He knows what time it is.
“He already gave me his best. I had nothing last fight. But now I’m a very dangerous man. Everyone here knows what time it is.”
Stiverne indeed has been inactive, with just one fight under his belt since the setback to Wilder. And the Las Vegas resident failed to impress in that outing, a November decision victory over journeyman Derric Rossy. Stiverne was even dropped in the contest, and hasn’t fought since.
But with a title shot on the line, and really, one last chance to prove he matters in this heavyweight division, perhaps he’ll be rejuvenated. Perhaps he’ll resemble the man who knocked out Chris Arreola and displayed impressive body punching for a big man.
“I feel great and I feel strong,” said Stiverne, who turned 39 on Wednesday. “There will be no excuses this time. I can guarantee you this. I’m 100 percent this time.
“Deontay said he fears for my life. Well, I don’t fear for his life. I’m going to do whatever it takes to grab that title. And I’ll walk away with a smile on my face.”
Stiverne is also feeling confident due to Wilder’s most recent exploits. The heavyweight titleholder has knocked out everyone he’s faced since he topped Stiverne, but he hasn’t looked impressive before the finishing blows materialized.
Those wins also came against opponents outside the top 10, and Stiverne, like many fans, is wondering just how good Wilder is.
“He’s like a third-round or fourth-round knockout guy depending on the level of his opponent,” Stiverne said. “Anyone that would be a decent or strong opponent, he’s not going to last. From rounds six through 12 he didn’t do much. Everything was in the first six.”
If Stiverne can take Wilder into deep waters, perhaps this time around will be different. But if the first fight was any indication, it should be another knockout victory for Wilder, who has designs on unifying the division against Anthony Joshua next year.
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Source:: The Ring – Boxing