Editor's note: video highlights of the Stiverne-Arreola press conference contains profanity.
LOS ANGELES – “The Fight for Peace,” the promotional title for the Bermane Stiverne-Chris Arreola rematch, no longer applies to Saturday’s WBC heavyweight title match.
Not after Thursday’s heated final press conference at the Galen Center on USC’s campus, the site of the ESPN-televised fight.
The “peace” theme was in honor of Vitali Klitschko, the former WBC titleholder who abdicated the green belt to pursue social and political reform in his native Ukraine. Stiverne’s promoter, Don King, ran with that theme for at least an hour – torturing the card’s co-promoter Dan Goossen, the media in attendance and those watching the live stream on ESPN.com – before introducing his fighter to the podium.
Stiverne (23-1-1, 20 knockouts), who won the first bout by unanimous decision last April, dropping Arreola and breaking the Southern Californian’s nose in the process, normally needs a bombastic personally like King around to help garner attention. The 35-year-old Haitian is extremely low-key and often uncomfortable when interviewed on camera.
But that wasn’t the case on Thursday. Stiverne has been irked by what he views as excuses from Arreola, who says he wasn’t in shape for their first fight. Once he warmed up behind the podium he instantly set fire to what had been a monotonous media event (thanks to his loquacious promoter) by launching into a vicious tirade directed at Arreola.
“I don’t like to talk. I talk in the ring. I let the media talk, even though they talk s__t; even though most of them ain’t never been in the ring,” Stiverne said. “I know Chris likes to talk. I’ll give him the mic so he can do what he does best – talkin’.
“But I don’t want any excuses… if you think for one minute that I couldn’t knock you out the last fight, you wrong and so wrong. What you didn’t know is that was the plan – to whoop yo ass. Not to knock you out but to whoop you.
“This fight, I’ma drop you, you gonna get up, I’ma whoop you, then I’ma knock you out. You can have that silly face that you have right now, that don’t matter. In the back of your mind you know. You know! I swear to God you know what’s gonna happen. Look at me, stare at me and s__, it don’t matter ‘cause in that ring, that mouth of yours, I’ma shut it down.
“This time it ain’t no joke. This time I’ma take your head off. Whatever you give me, I’ma take it off! You can lose all the weight you want, it don’t matter. You can be in shape all you want, it don’t matter.
“It doesn’t matter! You ain’t got the skills I got or the power I got. Or whatever you do, I do it better. Ten times better! You can have all the balls and all the heart you want, that ain’t gonna help you. Whoever you added to your team ain’t gonna help you. Nothin’ will help you! Think about that tonight ‘cause I’m for real.”
Stiverne pounded the podium hard with his fists and glared at Arreola as he said these words, but despite his thunderous declarations, Arreola’s trainer Henry Ramirez expressed confidence in his fighter. So did Goossen, Arreola’s promoter.
But Stiverne wasn’t finished. As Goossen spoke about how Stiverne should have stopped Arreola given the circumstances of the first fight – but couldn’t – and how his tirade would only motivate his fighter, Stiverne interrupted:
“That’s exactly what you said the last time,” said Stiverne.
Goossen proposed betting Stiverne’s long dreadlocks and King’s famous hairdo on the outcome of the bout.
“The losing promoter shaves his head,” Goossen said.
Stiverne didn’t allow his promoter to answer, getting up from his seat so he could speak into the podium mic.
“I’ll give you my purse if I lose, I’ll give you my whole purse!” Stiverne repeatedly yelled.
“What kind of purse is it, a Gucci?” joked Goossen before inviting Arreola to the podium.
“Isn’t this a beautiful thing,” said Arreola (35-3, 31 KOs). “This is some kind of excitement for boxing, some kind of excitement from Bermane, for once.”
Stiverne interrupted: “You haven’t seen (excitement) yet. You gonna see, after the fight. You gonna say ‘Aw man, I lost because I lost too much weight,’ there’s always excuses, mother f___er.
“After the fight, he’ll say ‘Well, I trained too much, I lost too much weight.’ This one before, he said his nose was broken. Mother f__er, I broke your f__ing nose.”
Arreola interjected: “I know you broke my nose. I told you, I said you broke my nose, dog. I’m the one who said it. I said it! I said it!”
Stiverne: “Then you said you in the best shape.”
Arreola: “Now I am…”
Stiverne: “You drink too much!”
Arreola: “F__k yeah, I drink too much! I’ll drink you under the table any day, also. S__t. I’ll drink and then this Saturday, I’ma f__k you up. That’s the God’s honest truth. You’ll see this Saturday, man. You’ll see this Saturday.”
Stiverne: “Don’t be scared. Don’t be scared, baby.”
Arreola: “I’m ain’t scared. Ain’t nobody scared of you! Trust me, bro. Trust me. You’ll see this Saturday.”
Stiverne: “Once you get cracked, you gonna realize.”
Arreola: “I got cracked plenty of times, bro. I been cracked plenty of times and I keep coming. I keep coming. I keep coming, and I’ma keep coming. This Saturday, I’m gonna keep coming and I’ma win this title.
“Even if it wasn’t for the title, I’m there to f__ this guy up. F__k this guy! Now he’s yapping. You know, before, I respected him because he was a quiet dude. But now… I’ma f__k you up! You’re gonna remember me. You’re gonna remember me, dog! You’re gonna remember me. I promise you.”
The two heavyweight contenders continued to jaw at each other after Arreola sat down.
There was no staredown for photographers or fighter interviews after the press conference. Both sides of the promotion quickly ushered their fighters off the stage and out of the Foundation Room, where the presser was held. The possibility of the two big men coming to blows was too real.
Before the presser Arreola spoke about the excuses that Stiverne brought up and the many skeptical hardcore fans that have a hard time believing that the 33-year-old Riverside, Calif. resident finally has his act together.
“I don’t blame them at all for not believing in me,” said Arreola, who told the boxing world that he had learned his lesson about staying in shape after being stopped by Vitali Klitschko in 2009, but then underperformed – in part due to being in poor condition – in pivotal decision losses to fellow contenders Tomasz Adamek in 2010 and Stiverne last year.
“They’ve heard this line from me before. That’s OK. They’ll be believers on Saturday.
“I know that I can’t just live on what I say. I’ve been called a silver-tongued devil by my own promoter and there was a time when I told this story so many times that I started believing my own lies. But watch on Saturday. Everyone is going to see me at my best.”
Saturday’s 12-bout card begins at 3:30 p.m. PT. The ESPN broadcast begins at 8:00 p.m. ET, and includes a 10-round junior welterweight bout between undefeated prospect Amir Imam (11-0, 10 KOs), of Davie, Fla., and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Yordenis Ugas (15-2, 7 KOs), of Miami, Fla., by way of Cuba.
Video by Goossen Tutor Promotions
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer