Wilder Can Answer Some Questions Saturday Night
By: Eric Lunger
WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (38-0, 37 KOs) makes his sixth title defense this Saturday night against former champ Bermane Stiverne (25-2, 21 KOs) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NYC. Wilder won the belt in January of 2015, defeating Stiverne in a 12 round unanimous decision, so what relevance does a second go-round have, especially when the first fight was not very competitive?
The answer to that question lies partially in what happened last weekend in Cardiff, Wales. Anthony Joshua, who dramatically dethroned the great Wladimir Klitschko last April, looked less than spectacular against the crafty and difficult-to-hit Carlos Takam. With a potential showdown with Joshua in the near future on the line, what questions can the Bronze Bomber answer this Saturday night which might help seal the deal?
We know that Wilder has KO power, but can he box? He’ll need more than power to hang with AJ. The Alabama native has a classic (and devastating) one-two, but has Wilder become a more multi-dimensional fighter? It would be great to see some variety from Deontay, some inside game, for example, or some new use of footwork and angles. The knock on Wilder has been that, while he has plenty of power, a technically proficient fighter would exploit those wide and wild punches that Wilder has thrown in the past. A tighter, more controlled performance from Wilder might silence that type of criticism.
Where is Wilder in terms of conditioning? The Bomber is known for staying in fighting trim, whereas at times Joshua looked tired, and seemed to be carrying too much weight for his frame. A lean and efficient Wilder might pose some real trouble for AJ, especially if he can take the British star into the late rounds.
Does Wilder need to score a dramatic knockout in order to stoke interest in a Joshua match-up? English promoter Eddie Hearn will not want to risk his star’s “zero” until conditions are optimal. There is already a high level of interest in the fight among boxing fans on both sides of the Atlantic — an exclamation point by Wilder would only add fuel to the fire. And a dominant win would make it harder for Joshua’s team to justify an interim opponent, especially after taking Takam deep into the fight and winning on a questionable stoppage.
The action will be live this Saturday night on Showtime (9 PM ET/6 PM PT)
Deontay Wilder: “If Bermane Stiverne Beats Me, I Will Retire.”
By: Sean Crose
“That’s the thing about it,” WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder said on a recent conference call to promote his upcoming rematch with Bermane Stiverne. “You take it in the first place, and you make up excuses, and then the blame is pointed at me. It’s starting to sicken me.” The 38-0 Alabama native was referring to the failed drug tests which have ruined numerous planned matches for him. For both Alexander Povetkin and Luis Ortiz, two high level opponents, have tested dirty and ruined their chances to lift Wilder’s title. Infuriating as it may be, accusations that he hasn’t fought top level opposition have clearly taken their toll on Wilder, as well.
“I don’t want to feel this way about boxing,” Wilder claimed, “because I was once in love with it and it’s starting to make me rethink my career.” Wilder went on to present some of the questions that have been running through his mind. “Am I better out of this sport than in this sport because of this stuff that’s going on?” he asked. “Am I that dangerous to other fighters’ careers that they feel they have to do certain things when it comes to Deontay Wilder?”
The 25-2-1 Stiverne, on the other hand, made it clear he’s simply eager to rematch the man who won the title from him back in 2015, via unanimous decision. “I always thought that the fight was never going to happen with Deontay and Ortiz,” he said. “If you asked me from the moment they announced the fight. The first thing I said is, ‘This fight is not going to happen. And I’ve got to get ready for Deontay.’” Stiverne, who has only fought once since losing to Wilder, presented himself as the picture of confidence. “I’m 110% ready mentally and physically,” he stated. “I’m really happy that it happened the way it happened. There was just something there that I knew this was going to happen.”
Whereas Stiverne now has a prime chance at redemption, Wilder has to deal with the fact that the types of new, highly ranked opponents fans have longed to see him face have repeatedly kept themselves from fighting him due to failed drug tests. “This is just another obstacle that I had to deal with,” he said, “that I had to face. I put so much into it. Ortiz had been wanting it; he wanted this fight to happen. I never thought in a million years that he would do what he did.” The 32 year old Wilder showed little patience for those who make excuses for his would-be foes.
“No matter what they say,” Wilder stated, “it was done; it was a banned substance. You can’t get around that. You all make mistakes in there because they tried to get their leverage.” Wilder went on to claim “there are a lot of guys that are doing it though. I know each and every last one of them. There’s a lot of them doing it.” If Wilder is telling the truth, it’s nothing but bad news for the sport of boxing. Regardless, the titlist made it clear that he’s looking forward. “The ultimate goal is to get (Anthony) Joshua,” he said, referring to the reigning heavyweight king. “We’re not just going to be sitting up here and doing this and doing that. I don’t see what’s the difference between me and any other guy.”
“Joshua say he need more time,” Wilder continued, “he ain’t ready. He wants to put himself in a better position. But you already fought a guy that got way more experience than I.” Once again, Wilder’s frustration became clear. “I don’t understand this sport when it comes to me. It feels like I’m better off not being in this sport than being in it. I don’t understand it.”
As for Stiverne, the Wilder rematch, which will go down at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn (and aired on Showtime) on November 4th, represents nothing but good news. “I feel better,” the Vegas (by way of Haiti) fighter said when comparing this training camp to the one before his first fight with Wilder. “Just the workouts and the people we decided to deal with. Everything is so different, man. I feel better. Obviously there’s a couple of mistakes that we made for the first fight. One thing I’m good at man, is not to repeat my mistakes.”
“This is a different Bermane Stiverne,” he claimed.
Of course, if Stiverne is right, if he’s a new man who somehow beats Wilder, the world will clearly be shocked. Wilder himself went so far as to say an upset would lead to him stepping out of the ring entirely. “The way I’m feeling about boxing right now,” he said, “if Bermane Stiverne beats me, I will retire. You can put that down. I will be out of the way.”