By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Bermane Stiverne took his war of words with Deontay Wilder to an unusual level Thursday.
Stiverne told Wilder, who was seated a couple feet to his right, that he would “walk away with a smile on my face” if he kills Wilder in their heavyweight championship rematch Saturday night. Wilder will make a mandatory defense of his WBC championship against Stiverne in the main event of a 12-bout card at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York (Showtime; 9 p.m. ET; 6 p.m. PT).
“One thing that really caught my attention, and I don’t really pay attention to social media and all that stuff like that, is that he said that he fears for my life,” Stiverne said Thursday during the final press conference prior to their rematch. “You fear for my life, man? You fear for my life? I don’t fear for your life because I’m a killer! If that’s what it takes for me to take that title, that’s what I’m gonna do. And I’m gonna walk away with a smile on my face.”
Haiti’s Stiverne made reference to comments the undefeated Wilder has made during the buildup toward their second fight.
Wilder, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was scheduled to make an optional title defense against Luis Ortiz on Saturday night. The unbeaten Cuban southpaw tested positive for two banned substances late in September, however, and the WBC ordered Wilder (38-0, 37 KOs) to instead make a mandatory defense against Stiverne.
The 39-year-old Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 KOs) had accepted a six-figure fee to step aside, which allowed Wilder to oppose Ortiz. The Las Vegas-based Stiverne was training to fight Dominic Breazeale (18-1, 16 KOs) on the Wilder-Ortiz undercard when he replaced Ortiz.
Wilder won their first fight relatively easily, which was why Wilder wanted to put off the Stiverne rematch and fight Ortiz. Stiverne insists dehydration was the cause of a subpar performance that led to his 12-round, unanimous-decision loss in January 2015 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
“Boy, you don’t even know,” Stiverne told Wilder on Thursday. “You caught me slipping the last time. Ain’t nobody gonna slip [Saturday night]. I’m gonna be on your ass. I’m gonna be on your ass, boy. I’m gonna be on your ass.”
Members of Wilder’s team moved closer to Stiverne as he spoke on a stage at Edison Ballroom in Manhattan. Promoters Lou DiBella and Don King and WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman intervened, though, and Stiverne continued talking.
“Saturday, November 4th, I promise you to God, I will be two-time heavyweight champion of the world,” Stiverne said. “I promise you that. Promise you. You can smile all you want, boy. You won’t be smiling [Saturday night] because I’m gonna send you packing home, without the belt. And I’m fittin’ to take that box, too, and put it in the garbage for you.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.