by Jackie Kallen
The heavyweight division has been a troubled sea for many years. At least for Americans, who have been searching high and low for a successor to the Klitschko monopoly.
After all, the heavyweight division was pretty much our domain from the Joe Louis days to the Ali days to the Tyson days. It was bad enough when Lennox Lewis took it away from us. But the Klitschko brothers, the now-retired Vitali and younger brother Wladimir, stole the crown and have run away to Germany with it.
When Bermane “B. Ware” Stiverne, a 36-year-old Haitian-Canadian, beat Chris Arreola in a rematch title eliminator for the WBC belt in May, a piece of the title came home. He stopped Arreola in the 6th round and walked out with the belt. Many fans could not be happier, even if they did not know much about the new champ, who now lives here in America in Las Vegas, and has applied for citizenship.
The title fight at the MGM on January 17 will pit Stiverne against a native American. Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder is as wholesome as apple pie and hot dogs. Born in Tuscaloosa, AL, he is 6’6 ½” of red, white and blue, and a bronze medal winner at the Olympics. Undefeated, with a perfect record of 32-0, 32 knockouts, he is menacing (to say the least). None of his opponents have gone the distance, and none have been able to avoid his power and dominance.
Will the newest heavyweight champion be able to find the key to success? In his favor, he is fighting in his adopted home town. I don’t see that as much of an advantage in this case, but he might. Also to his advantage is the fact that he is the current champ. You have to be pretty convincing to take away a man’s title (unless you KO him.)
But I haven’t talked to too many people who give Stiverne much chance of holding on to his belt. With Wilder’s impeccable record and Superman-like skills, it seems like he’s in for an easy night at the office. Stiverne may have other plans for him, but Wilder’s confidence is sky-high.
Poor Stiverne. Most champions get a few softies as their first title defenses. They get used to being a title-holder and get to take on a couple of mediocre challengers. To draw a giant like Wilder right out of the box is major bad luck. But Stiverne isn’t balking and is up to the challenge.
The question mark here is Wilder’s chin. If Stiverne, a solid counter-puncher, gets a chance to test it, fans will get the answer. On the other hand, if Wilder keeps that right hand cocked and happens to land it precisely on Stiverne’s button—it will be all over. Stiverne has a habit of keeping his left hand low, so a smart boxer will time it and be able to clock him.
I, like most fans, am hoping this will be a competitive, well-fought bout. Boxing fans are thirsty for a battle on our shores. If Wilder wins the belt, he will be the man to beat for every other big man on the planet. With his looks and personality, he’d be a good role model and a welcome addition to the heavyweight ranks of heroes.