By John J. Raspanti
WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wider fights former titleholder Bermane Stiverne this Saturday night at The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
A match-up between the current champion and the man who took away his title sounds good, right?
Not really. Most boxing fans could give a flying hoot about the match. Wilder’s most recent title defenses against Messrs Eric Molina, Johnny Duhaupas, and Artur Szpilka, didn’t impress many people.
But as Wilder told Dennis Taylor and myself on The Ringside Boxing Show, he’s ready to go.
“My motivation is high,” said Wilder who’s starched 37 of 38 opponents. “For the simple fact that the way things are going on in my career. I want to prove myself to so many people. Everything that’s been going wrong—the recent fight cancelations-I’m going to take out on Bermane.”
Their first fight, held in Las Vegas a few years ago, went the distance. Wilder won a wide unanimous decision. Stiverne (25-2, 21 KOs) was taken to the hospital after the match, suffering from dehydration.
"Even though I had serious issues with my health, I took everything he had, and he’s never seen anybody like me before," Stiverne told this writer last year.
The undefeated Wilder isn’t buying it.
“He’s still making excuses,” Wilder said. “Beating him is going to make it even better.”
Wilder talks like he’s the “Rodney Dangerfield” of boxing. You remember Dangerfield, right? His catchphrase was, “I get no respect at all.”
“I’ve been tired of hearing people blather, running their mouth on the internet,” said Wilder in an article by Sarah Deming of www.theringtv.com.
Instead of Stiverne, Wilder was scheduled to fight top contender, Luis Ortiz, who failed his pre-fight drug test. The same fate had befallen “almost” opponents Alexander Povetkin and Andrzej Wawrzyk recently. Some boxing fans complained, but you can’t blame Wilder for that. He wants to fight the top guys.
“I’m going to show more skills than I showed the first time,” said Wilder. “I fought him before so it should be easier this time. I hope his corner has a towel ready to throw into the ring. Bermane said he ate all my breakfast—so get ready for lunch. I’m bringing it.”
Wilder has been calling out WBA and IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, who, last weekend, stopped Carlos Takam in Cardiff, Wales. Wilder is willing to travel to London to fight Joshua. He wants to be a “world” champion. He would also like box WBO titleholder Joseph Parker, but, as Wilder says, he can’t find him.
“I put my GPS on him, and he’s still lost,” said Wilder referring to Parker. “He’s lost.”
There are questions about Wilder’s ability. He still looks amateurish at times. His resume is suspect. But he’s anxious to find how good he really is, for that, he deserves respect.