By Keith Idec
Lou DiBella posed a legitimate question recently regarding Bermane Stiverne’s status.
DiBella, who’s promoting the card headlined by the Deontay Wilder-Stiverne rematch Saturday night at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, can’t think of any reasonable justification for Stiverne being the WBC’s mandatory challenger for Wilder’s title. Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 KOs), who’ll turn 39 on Wednesday, has fought just once in nearly three years since losing the WBC heavyweight title to Wilder.
Since dropping a one-sided, 12-round decision to Wilder in January 2015, Stiverne’s lone appearance in the ring amounted to a subpar performance against Long Island’s Derric Rossy (31-13, 15 KOs). Stiverne suffered a first-round knockdown during that bout, but came back to win a 10-round unanimous decision in November 2015 in Las Vegas.
Somehow, though, Stiverne ascended to the top spot in the WBC’s rankings and will receive a rematch with Wilder (38-0, 37 KOs) that he seemingly doesn’t deserve.
“How do you fight one fight in two years against a guy that knocked you down and subsequently gets knocked out, and barely do anything, and you’re still the WBC mandatory?,” DiBella asked during a recent conference call. “That would’ve been a better question. But in the meantime, there’s nothing we can do about it. November 4th, I’m worried about this fight because Stiverne’s got nothing to lose and Deontay’s got everything to lose.”
The Haitian-born, Las Vegas-based Stiverne remains the only opponent to go the distance with Wilder since the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, native turned pro in November 2008.
Stiverne, who is promoted by Don King, was supposed to box Russia’s Alexander Povetkin for the WBC’s interim heavyweight title December 17 in Ekaterinburg, Russia. The winner was to become the mandatory challenger for Wilder, but Stiverne withdrew from their fight December 16 when the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association revealed Povetkin had failed another pre-fight test for a performance-enhancing drug.
Povetkin (32-1, 23 KOs) instead knocked out last-second replacement Johann Duhaupas (36-4, 23 KOs) in the sixth round of a non-title bout. The WBC eventually elevated Stiverne into the top spot in its heavyweight rankings.
He later accepted a six-figure sum, stepped aside and allowed Wilder to sign a contract to face unbeaten Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz (27-0, 23 KOs, 2 NC). Ortiz also tested positive for two banned substances and the WBC ordered Wilder to fight Stiverne again Saturday night (Showtime; 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.