Following a defiant seventh-round knockout of previously unbeaten Jose Pedraza (22-1, 12...
Stiverne promises to retain WBC title against Wilder
WBC heavyweight champion Bermane Stiverne (24-1-1, 21 KOs) makes his inaugural defense of his title against unbeaten mandatory challenger, No. 1-ranked Deontay Wilder (32-0, 32 KOs) on Saturday, January 17, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Stiverne, the first Haitian to win a world heavyweight title will do everything in his power to prevent Wilder from becoming the first African-American heavyweight champion since Shannon Briggs last held the WBO title in 2007.
Stiverne and Wilder is a fight that can go either way. It’s a wild-card, toss-up affair that no one really knows how the fight will play out. Wilder has won all of his fights by knockout, but he has fought no one of his significance since his professional debut in 2008 after winning the bronze medal for team USA at the Beijing Olympics. Wilder has also been credited for being one of Wladimir Klitschko’s chief sparring partners in recent years.
However, Stiverne has a longer amateur pedigree and has fought better opponents as a professional. Stiverne owns two victories over Chris Arreola and demolition stoppage of Ray Austin. Stiverne has worked hard to become heavyweight champion, and he promises to now disappoint.
“Everyone who has supported me, you won’t be disappointed,” Stiverne said at the fin al press conference. “I’ve seen planet of guys like Wilder, even guys who talk more than him. It’s going to be a real fight, a fight like you’ve never seen before. I’m no cab driver, I’m no one-hit wonder. This is the real deal. This belt isn’t going anywhere.”
At 6, 7,” Wilder will have decisive height and reach advantage against Stiverne. In Wilder’s 32 fights, 32 ended by knockout within four rounds. Wilder has never fought past the fourth round professionally and that may be the difference in this fight.
Stamina may be a serious issue for Wilder if he cannot get Stiverne out early, but Wilder appears confident of victory.
“You are all in for a treat,” Wilder said. “I’ve never been so ready to whoop a man. There’s been a lot of talk, a lot of stuff on social media. But through all that, it’s been real. I don’t play games. It doesn’t get any realer than this. We risk our lives every time in that ring.”
Wilder added a parting shot at Stiverne: “You’ve only been champion for a short period of time but you walk around like it’s been a long time. You’re only a tourist to that belt.”
Bernard Hopkins, the former undisputed world middleweight champion, unified WBC/WBA and IBF light-heavyweight champion, and the oldest fighter to win, defend, and lose a world title is in Las Vegas to celebrate his 50th birthday. Hopkins, a partner in Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, is excited about the main event.
We all know the drought in the heavyweight division has gone on long enough and I believe that this Saturday, whoever wins this is going to be talked about. I don’t see this going 12 rounds. This is good for boxing,” Hopkins said.
Tickets for Stiverne-Wilder are still on sale through ticketmaster.com In addition to the WBC heavyweight title fight, WBC super-bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz (28-0-1, 16 KOs) defends against Jesus Ruiz (33-5-5, 22 KOs). Also, undefeated super lightweight contender Amir Imam (15-0, 13 KOs) will meet Fidel Maldanado, Jr. (19-2, 16 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round bout.