By Ivan G. Goldman
WBC heavyweight titlist Bermane “Bware” Stiverne, a resident alien from Haiti and Canada who’s seeking U.S. citizenship, allegedly created a bizarre, ugly incident at a recent UFC cage-fighting card in Las Vegas, swearing at and threatening former WBC bantamweight champion Wayne McCullough and his wife Cheryl, who were also in the stands.
McCullough posted a narrative on Facebook, charging Stiverne and his seatmates with verbally abusing and menacing the McCulloughs when there was a mix-up in seating arrangements. Their daughter Wynona McCullough was seated with her parents.
“Someone from the UFC asked us to move three seats down so TV could interview the family of a fighter who was in the octagon,” explained McCullough.
“During one of the rounds the guy who had been sitting beside Cheryl disruptively came back to our row and told her to move because she was sitting in his seat. She tried to explain to him that she couldn’t go anywhere because someone was sitting in her seat but he began to continually yell ‘Get the F out of my seat, MOVE ALONG.’
“No one speaks to my wife like that, so as he was forcing her to stand up — while the fight was still going on — I stood up to tell him that we were going to move as soon as we were able. He started yelling at me ‘I’ll F you up, I’ll F you up.’ Wrong place. Wrong time. Wrong person! I told him to go ahead and try, but by this point he was sitting in his seat while Cheryl was left standing.”
Finally, the employee from the UFC who’d asked Cheryl to temporarily give up her seat retrieved the McCulloughs’ original front-row seats, recalled McCullough, but “the guy [Stiverne] continued to mumble about us so Cheryl wouldn’t give up. He then told her to ‘shut the F up’ while his friend said, ‘You don’t know who you’re messing with!’ Cheryl said, ‘Yes I do, but you don’t know who you’re messing with.’”
McCullough makes it clear in the post that the mumbling, threatening lout was in fact Stiverne. “He obviously treats everyone like that because he didn’t know he was talking to another WBC world champion,” said McCullough. He said Stiverne “obviously expects everyone to fall at his feet because he’s a big guy.”
McCullough, 44, known as “the Pocket Rocket” when he competed professionally, is an Olympic medalist who won the WBC title in 1995. He lost his belt to Daniel Zaragoza two years later by split decision. McCullough was trained by the late, Eddie Futch and now works as a trainer himself. He and Stiverne, 36, both live in Las Vegas. Stiverne, 24-1-1 (21 KOs), won the vacant WBC title with a 6th round stoppage of Chris Arreola on May 10 in Los Angeles.
McCullough, originally from Northern Ireland, competed for Ireland when he took silver in the 1992 Olympics and refused to be a part of the centuries-old sectarian feud that divides Protestants and Catholics in his homeland. He was named the first WBC Ambassador for Peace and Goodwill in Sports. I’ve known him for years as a solid, utterly credible individual.
Stiverne, born in Haiti, has also resided in Montreal. I tried to reach him through his promoter, Don King Productions. No one at the company was willing to discuss the alleged incident. Among the requirements in the application for U.S. citizenship is “good moral character.”
Stiverne’s team is currently negotiating with mandatory contender Deontay Wilder. Wilder is represented by boxing kingpin Al Haymon. Negotiations with King are never easy, and no world-class heavyweight has ever secured a fight against Wilder.
McCullough, who’s stayed in shape, weighs about 130. Stiverne weighed in at just under 240 against Arreola.