By Keith Idec
The primary reason Bermane Stiverne was willing to step aside and allow the Deontay Wilder-Luis Ortiz fight to be made was because he was certain it wouldn’t happen.
The former WBC heavyweight champion revealed during a conference call Tuesday that he felt all along as if he were preparing to fight Wilder again November 4 at Barclays Center in Brooklyln (Showtime). Stiverne signed a contract to battle 6-feet-7 Dominic Breazeale on the Wilder-Ortiz undercard for that very reason, as Wilder also stands 6-7.
Once Ortiz tested positive for two banned substances last month, the WBC ordered Wilder (38-0, 37 KOs) to make the mandatory defense of his title that Stiverne is owed.
“I always thought that the fight was never gonna happen with Deontay and Ortiz,” Stiverne said. “If you asked me from the moment they announced the fight, the first thing I said is, ‘This fight’s not gonna happen and I’ve gotta get ready for Deontay.’ That’s exactly what I said. You can ask anybody in my camp. You can ask [Don] King, you can ask my manager [James Prince]. That’s what I told them.”
When asked later during the conference call to elaborate on why he felt so strongly about Wilder-Ortiz falling apart, Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 KOs) didn’t give a specific reason. Ortiz (27-0, 23 KOs, 2 NC) tested positive for an anabolic steroid following a first-round knockout of Lateef Kayode three years ago, but Stiverne didn’t mention the unbeaten Cuban southpaw’s previous PED troubles.
“I can’t really tell you why, but it was just something that I believed that wasn’t gonna happen,” Stiverne said. “Knowing Ortiz – I know Ortiz since 2004, so you know, he’s always been who he is right now. So I don’t know. The first thought I had when people were trying to have this fight going on and I finally made the decision to [step aside] – actually, if you talk to my manager, J Prince, that’s exactly what I told him. ‘You know what? Let’s just move to the side and let them have the fight. And I guarantee you this fight ain’t gonna happen.’ And that’s exactly what happened. If I’m lying, he can tell you I’m lying.”
Breazeale (18-1, 16 KOs), of Eastvale, California, instead will encounter Eric Molina (26-4, 19 KOs), of Weslaco, Texas, on the Wilder-Stiverne undercard. Wilder, who won his title by beating Stiverne in January 2015, is a 20-1 favorite as their rematch approaches.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.