Eye of the Tiger, headed up by Camille Estephan, got itself a sweet win on May 10, when their heavyweight lead dog, Bermane Stiverne, did as promised and stopped Chris Arreola in round six of their clash which ran on ESPN, in primetime.
The Eye crew, which also includes David Lemiuex, who fought on Saturday on Showtime, as well as Antonin Decarie, Dierry Jean and Schiller Hyppolite, seems to consider themselves a team a bit more than most promotional entities. Estephan likes encourage that mindset, that we are all in this together, to an extent, while of course allowing that the ring can be a lonely place, where you and only you can get it done.
The promoter/advisor, based in Quebec, would like to extend the momentum on May 31, when his 160 lightweight, Ghislain Maduma, gloves up against 37-2 Brit Kevin Mitchell at Wembley Stadium, on the Carl Froch-George Groves II card. Mitchell tried for a world title, when he met then champ Ricky Burns in September 2012, but Burns got the nod via TKO4.
I asked Estephan for the lowdown on Maduma, a 29-year-old born in the Congo, now residing in Montreal. "Ghislain Maduma is truly, right now, in my belief, the most underrated fighter in the sport simply because people don’t know him outside of Canada," Estephan said. "He’s been in the shadows but on May 31st he will grab this opportunity with all the attention on Wembley stadium. We are very confident based on the skills he has, and his character... and he had a fantastic camp. Ghislain will prevail in his fight against Mitchell. Many Quebec fighters failed in the UK, the likes of Bute and Pascal have tried, but were not successful, and I believe Ghislain will bring the win back vs. Mitchell.
"Ghislain has blazing speed and power, and he was not built through weak competition; he always faced competition that assured us a progression, that tested him from one fight to the next and he always responded by getting better and better. He is ultimately conditioned through the training that he has done.. no other athlete in Canada in any sport can rival his conditioning. Kevin Mitchell better be ready, this will not be a walk in park. We’re going with the intention of making a statement."
And while we were at it...how about the 32-2 Lemieux, who blasted out 26-3 Fernando Guerrero (KO3) on the Adonis Stevenson-Andrzej Fonfara undercard, in Montreal?
"David Lemieux, well his performance last night showed and proved what I’ve been saying all along, he is a force to be reckoned with," Estephan told me. "David has a huge following and through his performances and persona is an established star in Quebec, and now people will know him in America as well, after obliterating Guerrero, who is an established, bonafide fighter. We are simply going to keep plugging away and ultimately over the next year work on getting David in a world title shot. We have a lot of doors that just opened up and we will explore the best opportunities and make a decision rather quickly on our next move. Simply put, we believe David will become a superstar, and although we always take it one step at a time, David certainly has the potential to be a cross-over star."
Lastly, Stiverne. He opened up a multitude of eyes with his smart and patient handling of Arreola. What's is next for the Haitian-Canadian-American hitter? A defense of his WBC crown against Deontay Wilder? Or a crack at Klitschko, long tall Wladimir?
"Bermane Stiverne, what is next is still up in the air...yet the talks will definitely intensify next week," Estephan said. "But truthfully, whether it is Klitschko, Wilder or someone else, we will show that Bware will crush the competition for many years to come. We will continue our hard work, dedication and commitment in leaving no stone unturned to dominate. Bermane has shown that he has the character, speed, power, chin and abilities to not only beat anyone in the heavyweight division but as well make the division what it should be, which is the best thing for boxing. He will help bring the heavyweight division back with all the glory that it brings to the sport.
"After the Arreola fight, our phone has been ringing off the hook and we’re getting invitations all over the world. People are like, 'Wow, you guys must be jumping up and down every day saying you’re the WBC heavyweight champion?!' They’re like, 'How do you feel? This is massive, how are you handling it?' And honestly the feeling both from Bermane and myself is one of content and happiness... but we’re not walking the streets going nuts with exhuberation and joy, we are quite calm in our celebration and happiness as if we always knew this was coming and since we always have known it, it doesn’t feel so overwhelming. We’ve always had this quiet confidence and have celebrated through the years of hard work quietly knowing already what everyone found out after Bermane defeated Arreola for the second time.
"The only thing that changed is now everyone knows what we already knew, that Bermane is in fact the baddest man on the planet, and we can’t wait to grab all these titles... but if it is not Klitschko immediately, we’ll do what we always have done, take it one step at a time and continue with our diligence and dedication to make sure that our goals are achieved... which is nothing less than domination of the sport.
"People are starting to take notice that you should not mess with Tigers at Eye of the Tiger Management," said Estephan, in closing. "We are not playing, this is for real! But like I said, time will tell and I believe we are only scratching the surface. We want a lot more, and are still very hungry."
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Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?