Is Joe Joyce stepping up to quickly? Does Bermane Stiverne have anything left?
By Allan Cerf
Particulars: February 23, 2019: It’s Bermane "B. Ware" Stiverne vs. James "Juggernaut" Joyce, O2 Arena, London, UK.
Background: If you thought the boxing career of Bermane Stiverne had faded away, you’re forgiven. If you take the modern boxing landscape - with its new international outlets and promotion companies, and mix in the same old "politricks," it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that Stiverne is talking his next title shot.
I hope I’m not the only writer to believe in Stiverne’s skills. He started the game way too late (19) and in this era of the gigantic heavyweight, his physical attributes are so-so. Given the late start, he’s obviously a tremendously talented athlete and born fighter. He had a pretty good amateur career and claims, possibly accurately, he was robbed of a birth to the Olympics. The net is, he just came to the game too late. In terms of his career arc, his defeating Chris Arreola is the obvious highlight.
Why the disastrous showings against Wilder? I honestly think had he shown up in shape, mentally and physically, he may have beaten Wilder the first time. For the second fight, he arrived with the commitment of a sacrificial lamb, standing and waiting for Wilder’s "Bomb Squad" - which he duly received. Maybe a thought-bomb went off in his head before the bell rang, “I’m ten years too late.” Perhaps he’s too small? The net is, Wilder won.
Think 19 is too late a start? Track and field man James Joyce, Stiverne’s opponent, started at 22 and is now 33. Quite frankly, he has little business in the ring. Said with the greatest respect, especially as he’s affable and likeable in interviews. Unless he’s dramatically improved since defeating Lenroy Thomas, he is, as the British commentators stated, “very cumbersome and slow.” Okay, powerful, but in seven fights against WHOM?
What’s really strange about this fight, is that in the recent silly press conference where “tempers flared” (Nah! In a boxing press conference? Never!) Stiverne said unconvincingly that he was not caught with his pants down when ‘they’ called. Meaning, somehow, this is a step-up fight for Joyce? Stiverne said he’s always in the gym, which, given his generous waist, I doubt. Go figure – because I can’t.
Fighter’s Grades: (Speed, Power, Defense, Reach, Age, Stamina, Experience)
Bermane Stiverne: B B+ C+ C+ C- C+ B+ (Average of all) C+ (2.6)
Joe Joyce: D B B B+ C- B C- (Average of all) C+ (2.4)
Reality check: Folks – bloody hell! Why is this fight happening? Search me. Someone wants Joyce to go places in the sport for reasons I can’t fathom. This must mean that Stiverne is perceived as a non-threat. Because to be truthful, Joyce’s punches appear to be thrown underwater – and against thick water at that. He’s not a novice or hobbyist, he knows the fundamentals, but to my eyes, has nothing else. I’ve seen quicker sundials.
Fight and Prediction: I don’t care how badly faded Stiverne is, if he has had any kind of training, he wins going away. Stiverne UD 12 Joyce.