By Rick Reeno
Earlier today, BoxingScene.com's Keith Idec first reported that there are ongoing negotiations to finalize a fight between WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (38-0, 37 KOs) and undefeated puncher Luis Ortiz (27-0, 23 KOs).
The two sides are trying to lock the fight down for the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, more than likely for the date of November 4. Promoter Lou DiBella, who works with Wilder, has placed the venue on hold for that date.
A few months ago, Ortiz brought in Al Haymon as his adviser - and that set the stage for a future showdown with Wilder, who is also represented by Haymon.
But there is one big problem in making that fight a reality - Wilder owes a mandatory defense to Bermane Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 KOs).
Apparently there are ongoing discussions between Haymon and Don King, Stiverne’s promoter, to work out a step-aside agreement - where Stiverne would receive a reasonable fee to allow Wilder-Ortiz to go forward.
BoxingScene.com has since been informed that Stiverne has hired the managerial team of James Prince and attorney Josh Dubin.
Prince and Dubin are best known for their work with light heavyweight champion Andre Ward, Olympian Shakur Stevenson and heavyweight Bryant Jennings.
Based on what BoxingScene was told, Stiverne and his management have not given King any permission to negotiate a step-aside fee - and further, they have zero interest in working out a step-aside agreement.
Stiverne wants to fight Wilder next and his handlers are ready to legally challenge the possibility of being stepped over for Ortiz. They plan to do everything possible, pursuant to their boxer's mandatory status, to ensure their fighter gets first crack at the WBC title.
The big issue in making Wilder vs. Stiverne - is finding a television outlet willing to pay for it. Wilder won a clear twelve round unanimous decision over Stiverne in January 2015 to capture the title. He's made five defenses of the belt. Stiverne's handlers view the TV situation as "their problem, not ours."
Stiverne was scheduled to face Alexander Povetkin in a final WBC eliminator last December in Russia. The fight was canceled at the last minute after the WBC was advised that Povetkin had failed a pre-fight drug test.
Back on February 26th, the World Boxing Council ordered the Wilder-Stiverne rematch. Stiverne has been out of the ring since a November 2015 decision win over Derric Rossey.