Bermane Stiverne told TSS he expects to knock out undefeated challenger Deontay Wilder whenever the two finally tussle for Stiverne’s WBC heavyweight title. Wilder is the mandatory challenger for Stiverne. The two are expected to meet in December or January.
“It’s not going 12 rounds,” said Stiverne. “Somebody will get hurt, and it won’t be me.”
Stiverne said he has all the advantages going into the bout, and he expects to exploit them on fight night. But don’t expect much trash talk during the promotional buildup.
“I know I’m here to entertain the fans in the ring. Outside the ring, I don’t do that trash talk. I believe trash belongs in the trash. But I’m all about business. When it comes to it, you can talk all you want. But can you deliver when the bell rings?”
Stiverne believes he’s already proved to be the type of fighter who can deliver. He knocked out Chris Arreola in Round 6 in May to win the vacant WBC heavyweight title. He said unlike Wilder, he wasn’t the type to try to garner attention for himself outside the ring. Rather, he said he puts all his effort into making sure he’s ready to perform when and where it counts.
“Most of the fighters that talk, talk, talk. The night of the fight? They can’t even do what they were talking about. If anyone is looking for someone to trash talk, or act up or have some type of weird behavior outside the ring or use foul language and stuff like that, they’re going to wait a long time. It’s not who I am. I was never like that.”
Stiverne said it wasn’t a question of if he’ll defeat Wilder, but how.
“I’m not worried about the win. I’m worried about my performance and how it’s going to be done. The win is obviously something that will be the outcome of the fight. I will win the fight, but you can win many fights. But the way I win the fight is more important.”
Stiverne-Wilder is one of the most intriguing heavyweight bouts in recent history. Stiverne is a patient, hard-punching technician with real skill. Wilder appears crude to some but has knocked out every fighter he’s ever faced.
Stiverne admits the hype around the fight is the most intense of his career.
“Yeah, but people think it’s big because of who he is, how he talks and his record with 32 wins and 32 knockouts. So I think that’s where the excitement and hype comes from. But this fight is really a fight that I’m looking forward to. I want to make a statement. I don’t like to talk about [things]. I’d rather answer the questions that everybody has the night of the fight. All the questions will be answered then.”
I asked Stiverne if he thought he was more skilled than Wilder overall.
“Most definitely. I feel like I’m in my prime, and all I have to do is put my work in at the gym. Because just when you hit your prime, it doesn’t mean you get to relax. I feel good. I feel confident. Especially psychologically. I feel great. I feel amazing, and not because I feel like I’m in my prime will I take my preparation likely.”
I also asked Stiverne if he thought his combination of speed and power would be too much for Wilder, someone who hasn’t faced very high level competition up to the present.
“I do. I really do, because of my amateur background. First of all, in my amateur days, all I used to fight were guys that were 6’4” and up. I really feel like skill-wise, with my speed and also my power, I am the better fighter.”
Stiverne fought in the amateur ranks as a member of the Canadian national team from 1999-2005. He said he moved from Miami to Canada because he missed the chance to compete in the Golden Gloves tournament in the United States, and that having family in Canada helped him gain the necessary citizenship requirement to compete there.
Stiverne said he had 93 fights as an amateur, losing only seven. “I had a good time in Canada. I was very active. We went to all types of tournaments everywhere in the world. That’s where I got all my experience and learned my basics. It really helped set up my professional career.”
After turning professional in 2005, and overcoming a couple of early setbacks, Stiverne defeated Arreola 11 years later to become the WBC heavyweight champion, something he takes great pride in.
“Being heavyweight champion of the world is something I always wanted to be. It’s the reason why I started my career in boxing. So obviously it feels good.”
Stiverne is perhaps most famous for being Don King’s last hope at heavyweight promotional relevance. King was an integral part of the heavyweight boxing scene from 1974’s Muhammad Ali versus George Foreman bout in Zaire to Mike Tyson’s impressive run in the 1990s.
King and Stiverne were embittered in a legal battle last year over promotional disagreements but settled the dispute outside of court. I asked Stiverne how his relationship was with the enigmatic King now.
“It’s normal. Nothing special. He’s good at what he does, and I’m good at what I do. The combination has been great. It’s a good one.”
Stiverne said he recognized the importance of his career to King’s continued hopes of rekindling past promotional glory.
“Obviously, once upon a time, he used to control all of that, and I kind of got him back on the map. I don’t know what the future holds for me and Mr. King, but for now, it’s a great duo.”
I couldn’t help myself. Does King treat you better now that you’re the WBC heavyweight champion, Bermane? Has that made it easier to work with him?
“Everybody treats me a little better! Everybody does. But it’s all love. I don’t hate nobody. It comes with the title!”