Wilder wants to get rid of Stiverne, then unify heavyweights
NEW YORK (AP) — Deontay Wilder is steamed. And drained. And very, very eager.
All of those descriptions are delivered by the WBC heavyweight champion himself as he prepares to fight Bermane Stiverne on Saturday night at Barclays Center.
Wilder is 38-0 with 37 knockouts. The only opponent who went the distance with him is Stiverne, whom Wilder outpointed for the belt in 2015. Since, Wilder has stopped five others in defense of the title, but the fact that Stiverne was standing at the end of their previous bout has the champ “steamed.”
Add that Stiverne has claimed many times he was not at peak health for that fight, and Wilder shakes his head in disgust.
“Stiverne was the only man to survive the ‘Alabama Slammer’ and avoid a knockout,” the 32-year-old native of Tuscaloosa says. “When I knock him out, then nobody will be able to say they made it through against me. He was nothing but a lot of lumps and excuses after the first fight.”
Stiverne, naturally, disagrees.
“He already gave me his best,” says Stiverne (25-2-1, 20 KOs), who turned 39 on Wednesday and hasn’t fought in two years. He is stepping in for Luis Ortiz, who was disqualified by the sanctioning body when he had a positive drug test.
“I had nothing last fight. But now I’m a very dangerous man. Everyone here knows what time it is. Deontay Wilder has been trying to duck me. He’s been giving a lot of excuses about my career. He should be happy if I’ve been inactive. He should be jumping in the air. Everyone knows that means he’s scared.”
Rather than scared, Wilder sounds weary. He notes that the entire promotion of this fight has been on his shoulders. He’s crisscrossed the country drumming up interest, and he’s ready to finish his business for 2017 and get on with unification next year.
For that, Wilder adds, he can’t wait.
“I’ve promised I will unify the heavyweight titles and I will,” he says. “Those others, (Anthony) Joshua, have other plans. I don’t think he has the motivation to unify. If that is his plan, then sign the deal. That’s all it takes to make it happen. Next fight, we’ll make it happen. But he doesn’t want to fight me, period.”
England’s Joshua just stopped journeyman Carlos Takam in 10 not particularly impressive rounds to keep his WBA and IBF belts. The other heavyweight champ, Joseph Parker of New Zealand, owns the WBO crown. Wilder says boxing fans are confused about so many champions, and he is doing a service to the sport by unifying.
Should Wilder handle Stiverne in the Showtime main event Saturday night, he won’t be satisfied if it isn’t by knockout. He wants to put on a show, particularly with a UFC card taking place in New York the same night.
“This will be an electrifying fight,” Wilder says. “That belt isn’t going anywhere. I will unify the division. I will be the undefeated, undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.”
The undercard features one of the area’s favorites, Shawn Porter, who faces Adrian Granados in a welterweight matchup. Porter probably has the best resume of anyone on the card, and previous fights at Barclays against Keith Thurman, Devon Alexander and Andre Berto make the former world champ a solid draw.
What most impresses Porter (27-2-1, 17 knockouts) about Granados (18-5-2)? Well, at the final news conference for the bouts, the always-dapper Porter complimented Granados on his fine clothing.
“The respect that Granados and I have for each other, that’s what boxing is all about,” Porter says. “It’s about getting in the ring and competing. We wanted someone that was going to come here and fight me. We didn’t want someone who was going to run or lay down. We want to close the year out in fantastic form, and the best way to do that is by facing Granados.”