SAN DIEGO, January 16, 2015 – Unlike Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, who can’t seem to find a way to get into the ring with each other, heavyweights Bermane “B-Ware” Stiverne (24-1-1, 21 KOs) and Deontay “Bronze Bomber” Wilder can’t wait to get down to business to prove who’s the better boxer. The big men get their chance at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas on Saturday, January 17. The bout airs on Showtime at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
The Haitian-born Stiverne, who now lives and trains in Las Vegas, won the WBC heavyweight title In spectacular fashion last May with a powerhouse TKO victory over Californian Chris Arreola in the sixth round. American 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Wilder (32-0, 32 KOs) is Stiverne’s mandatory opponent. Wilder hasn’t ever gone past the fourth round in winning every single one of his fights by KO or TKO. The rap on Wilder: his opponents to date have been lacking. It’s true many of his fights have been against guys like opponent James Cavern, who retired on his chair after four rounds with Wilder in August.
It’s hard not to like either of these men. Stiverne is generally a quiet, thoughtful man of few words. Wilder is the polar opposite, outgoing and brash. Leading up to this bout, Wilder has talked plenty and Stiverne had his say as well. Whether all the trash talk is more about building up confidence for Saturday or about a real lack of respect, it has gotten both sets of fans riled up.
At the weigh-in, the far taller Wilder at six-foot-seven weighed in at 219 pounds. Stiverne, who is six-two, weighed in at 239 pounds.
After the weight-in, Stiverne said of Wilder, “Eyes don’t lie. I could see it all up in his eyes, he ain’t ready for this… Deontay ain’t gonna do squat, ain’t gonna do nothing. This will be the last time you hear about Deontay Wilder.”
Wilder says much the same about Stiverne. “I feel the talking has been done, now it’s time to fight…Tomorrow we’ll see who will stick around and who will vanish… I’m going to beat him within an inch of his life. One two three, boom.”
Easier said than done. No doubt both men have tremendous punching power and knockout skills. Where Stiverne has a big advantage over Wilder is in being patient. Watch his fight with Arreola and you can see that patience on display. Stiverne lets his opponents get comfortable, and when they relax, he cracks them with his dangerous right hand.
Wilder is all about aggression. His fights are seek and destroy missions. Wilder knows one well-placed punch is all he needs against most opponents. This time, he’ll have far fewer chances to land that kind of punch. He will need to have a Plan B for Stiverne, a way to wear him out or lure him into a mistake. This will be a difficult assignment. Stiverne is smart and disciplined.
With a fighter who’s never gone more than four rounds, there are concerns about stamina. Wilder’s workout regiment has him in phenomenal shape if on the light side for his frame. It doesn’t seem like it will be a factor. Wilder has said all the testing is done in the gym to make it look easy in the ring.
Prediction: If Wilder is going to take the title belt from Stiverne, he has to do it in the early rounds. If the fight goes more than six rounds, it belongs to Stiverne. Stiverne would be smart to work the body of Wilder, where he has little padding to absorb many hard shots. Chop at the trunk, the tree will fall. My call is a tenth round TKO stoppage by Stiverne of Wilder.
The best news about this fight is the excitement it has generated among fans about the current generation of North American heavyweights, with several others including Bryant Jennings and Mike Perez of Cuba in the wings. But the man at the top remains Wladimir Klitschko of Ukraine. Whether the winner of this fight will get a chance to face the fearsome Dr. Steelhammer is to be determined. Klitschko’s deal with HBO for several fights in the U.S. makes it quite likely.
The co-feature event puts WBC super bantamweight world champion Leo Santa Cruz of the U.S. via Mexico (28-0, 16 KOs) up against Jesus Ruiz of Mexico (33-5-5, 22 KOs). Yes, this guy has five draws. This is a make-work fight for Santa Cruz. Undefeated Amir Imam (15-0, 13 KOs) of New York and Fidel Maldonado Jr. (19-2, 16 KOs) of New Mexico open the televised card in a 10-round super lightweight fight for a bogus vacant WBC Continental Americas belt.
“Return to Glory: Stiverne vs. Wilder” airs lives on Showtime at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT, available in Spanish via SAP. The preliminary bouts will be televised live on Showtime Extreme starting at 8 p.m. ET, and delayed on the West Coast.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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