SAN DIEGO, Calif., November 3, 2017 – Boxing fans are growing tired of waiting for Deontay Wilder. Boxing writers are growing tired of writing about waiting for Wilder.
They are eager to see the American WBC heavyweight champion carry the legacy of great American heavyweights of the past, including the fellow Alabama native whose moniker he followed to fashion his own, “Brown Bomber” Joe Louis.
Wilder (39-0, 37 KOs) is set to fight a rematch with Bermane Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 KOs), who Wilder beat in a lopsided decision to become WBC heavyweight champion in 2015. Stiverne remains the only man to lose to Wilder while ending the fight on his feet and going the distance. Stiverne became the WBC’s mandatory challenger after Ortiz got popped. Wilder claimed he’s so confident he will win that he’ll retire if Stiverne beats him.
The fight airs as the main event from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on Showtime Boxing.
Wilder has faced less than exciting top-level opposition, in between long absences from the ring. This isn’t how fans want a champion, much less an American heavyweight champion, to conduct himself. It stands in contrast to British heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, who won a title in what’s likely to stand up as the 2017 Fight of the Year against Wladimir Klitschko, and who just stopped Carlos Takam last weekend in a mandatory defense.
In fairness, the situation isn’t entirely his fault. Three opponents in a row have pulled out of fights against Wilder due to dirty drug tests: Alexander Povetkin, Andrzej Wawrzyk, and most recently Luis Ortiz, the hard-hitting Cuban who would have provided Wilder a significant test. Instead, Wilder has faced fellow Americans Chris Arreola and Gerald Washington.
The Haitian now living and training out of Las Vegas is in the “nothing to lose” position. Stiverne’s only had one bout since his last fight with Wilder, a lackluster unanimous decision in November 2015 against Derric Rossy where he suffered a knockdown in round one. No one expects much from Stiverne; the benefit of low expectations is his only advantage. If he embraces this position, he can try nearly anything and no one will fault him for it.
Wilder said at the final news conference on Thursday the bout is a funeral without a casket. “He said he’s gonna kill me and I say I’m gonna kill him, so may the best man win in the killing. Not only will there be a knockout this time, but I’m taking him. I’m the reaper.”
Stiverne was having none of it. “I don’t fear for your life, because I’m going to kill you. If that’s what it takes for me to take that title, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to walk away with a smile on my face.
‘Boy, you don’t even know: You caught me slipping last time. I’m going to be on your ass, I’m going to be on your ass, boy.”
Wilder is the prohibitive favorite. While all of the big men have a “puncher’s chance,” Stiverne gives up five inches in height, six inches in reach, seven years in age (39 to 32), and showed up for Friday’s weigh-in at 254.75 pounds, his all time high; with Wilder a lean 220 pounds.
Wilder continues to maintain his eagerness to fight the big names, claiming men like Joshua, Joseph Parker of New Zealand, and even Tyson Fury are the ones ducking him.
In the meantime, Wilder has to check off the Stiverne box on Saturday, and he needs to put on a show. Simple victories do nothing at this stage of his career, especially when fans recall Joshua’s performance against Klitschko. Going 12 solid rounds is only a win for Wilder on paper.
The televised undercard could redeem the card out of Brooklyn on Saturday.
Fan favorite and former welterweight titleholder Shawn Porter (27-2-1, 17 KOs), 30, of Las Vegas, takes a voluntary title elimination fight with Adrian Granados (18-5-2, 12 KOs), 28, of Chicago as the co-main event. Porter is currently the mandatory challenger for champion Keith Thurman, who beat Porter by decision in their first meeting. It was a highly entertaining, competitive bout and unlike the main event, it’s a rematch fans are eager to see. But if Granados upsets Porter, he will become Thurman’s mandatory challenger.
“This is going to be a very competitive fight,” said Porter. “The key to beating him will be my speed. I have to out box him, make him walk into some heavy shots and eventually knock him out.
“We’re going after the WBC title. We’re going to have our sights set on Keith Thurman. I want to get that rematch sometime next year. Outside of that, the only fighter on my mind is Danny Garcia, because he’s a guy who I think I’d make an exciting fight with.”
Granados has other plans. “I know I have a fan-friendly style and I make my opponent fight regardless if he bangs or boxes. Bringing exciting fights is what I’m known for to the fans and media. It’s going to be the fight of the night.
“I’m very excited to be fighting at Barclays Center … I know that Shawn’s the favorite but I feel good about fighting in Brooklyn … If I win, I’ll be the mandatory for Keith Thurman’s WBC belt and that’s my motivation. Expect a classic ‘El Tigre’ performance, no back down, no quit, a classic boxing match.”
In the opening bout, Sergey Lipinets (12-0, 10 KOs), 28, one of many Eastern Europeans who have relocated to Los Angeles, fights Akihiro Kondo (29-6-1, 16 KOs), 32, of Japan, for the vacant IBF junior welterweight title. The title became available for this bout when unified champion Terence Crawford vacated all of his belts to move up to the welterweight division – where Thurman, Porter, Granados and others await his arrival.
Lipinets of Kazakhstan is trained by Buddy McGirt. Ranked in the top ten, he’d hoped to fight Julius Indongo or Crawford, but he says he’s confident a showdown will eventually take place. He says he’ll be happy to get Kondo “out of the way.” Kondo is a typically tough Japanese fighter who has never been stopped. Don’t be surprised if this turns out to be a barnburner and the fight of the evening.
You can start your boxing day early with a light heavyweight championship bout from Monte Carlo airing on HBO World Championship Boxing at 5:45 p.m. ET/2:45 p.m. PT.
Dmitry Bivol of Russia (11-0, 9 KOs) faces Trent Broadhurst of Australia (20-1, 12 KOs) with Bivol’s newly acquired WBA title on the line. Bivol was elevated to full title status after Andre Ward announced his retirement. Bivol’s knockout power and slick hand speed are supported by solid English skills. The 26 year old wants to step into the void left by Ward’s departure to become the face of the light heavyweight division.
Broadhurst hopes to ride a 13-fight winning streak to pull an upset. But without the lights out KO power of most of the other top light heavyweights in the division, he’ll be hard pressed to prevail over Bivol. It should be good fun while it lasts.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer 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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