Friday, February 03, 2023  |


Bermane Stiverne-Deontay Wilder announced, Leo Santa Cruz featured


Bermane Stiverne will defend his WBC heavyweight title against knockout artist Deontay Wilder on Jan. 17 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Showtime announced on Saturday.

The release confirmed an earlier report by citing Golden Boy Promotions president Oscar De La Hoya.

Although a definitive agreement was reached in October between Stiverne (24-1-1, 21 knockouts) and Wilder (32-0, 32 KOs), a date, venue and network still had yet to be determined.

“This will be a momentous day in heavyweight boxing history. Just more than 40 years removed from the Rumble in The Jungle with Muhammed Ali and George Foreman, the heavyweights, WBC world champion Bermane Stiverne and Deontay Wilder, will ‘Return to Glory’ live at MGM Grand on Showtime,” said promoter Don King, who handles Stiverne.

“The little guys in boxing are great, but it’s the heavyweights that have always excited fans the most. Bermane, he’s a knockout artist just like Mike Tyson. Wilder, he talks trash, but is a good fighter, too. This is a must-see fight. The heavyweights are back and ready to ‘Return To Glory.'”

Stiverne, 36, is coming off a sixth-round technical knockout over Chris Arreola in May that earned the belt which had been vacated when Vitali Klitschko retired to pursue a political career in Ukraine. The victory also made Stiverne the first heavyweight champion of Haitian descent.

Stiverne-Arreola was a rematch of an earlier bout in April 2013, during which Stiverne floored Arreola in the third round of a unanimous decision victory. Stiverne is 12-0-1 with nine stoppages since being knocked out in the fourth round by Demetrice King in July 2007.

“Don’t blink on Jan. 17. I am the heavyweight champion of the world and nobody is going to beat me. I’m excited and I’m looking forward to making a statement. Talk is cheap. I do my talking in the ring,” said Stiverne, who stands 6-foot-2.

“I’m all business. The only time he’s going to get my attention is the night of the fight. I promise you, he will get more than he bargained for and more than he’s expecting.”

A 2008 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist and the last American man to medal in Olympic boxing, Wilder, 29, is coming off a fourth-round knockout of Jason Gavern, whom he dropped in the third and final rounds.

Prior to Gavern, Wilder became Stiverne’s mandatory challenger with a 96-second knockout of Malik Scott in a WBC eliminator bout in March.

“I’m expecting a short night because we have bad blood. I really want to hurt this guy, and I haven’t felt this way in a long time,” said Wilder, who stands 6-foot-7. “I want to show him this is no joke, this is real. This is business. This is the hurt game and my power is real. I told him that I’ll whoop his ass and I’m going to keep my promise.”

No U.S.-born fighter has held a heavyweight title since 2007, when Shannon Briggs lost a unanimous decision to Sultan Ibragimov and gave up the WBO strap he’d won from Sergei Liakhovich seven months earlier.

In 2006, Hasim Rahman held the WBC belt while the IBF title was held by Chris Byrd. John Ruiz, from Massachusetts, was the first Latino to hold a heavyweight belt when he became the WBA champ in 2005.

“Fight fans across the United States have been clamoring for an American heavyweight champion for nearly a decade, and Deontay Wilder may well answer their wishes on January 17,” said Oscar De La Hoya, who handles the undefeated fighter from Alabama. “Stiverne brings power and experience. Wilder brings power and youth. This is set up to be an explosive fight that I can’t wait to see.”

Wilder owns a first-round stoppage of Liakhovich from August 2013.

“I can’t help that I always knock my guys out. It’s not my fault I make it look easy. When I knock Stiverne out, I don’t want to hear any whispers. I don’t want to hear people say that he was a bum. I want the world to bow down and praise the heavyweight champion of the world,” said Wilder.

“They have to finally admit that I’m just that good. Now I can make all my dreams come true. I can make it a reality. America is yearning for a heavyweight world champion. We haven’t had a real one since the days of Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield. Everyone just sits back and remembers the glory days. America has been waiting for their champion, and I’ve arrived.”

RING champion Wladimir Klitschko (63-3, 53 KOs) holds the IBF, WBA and WBO titles, and is coming off last month’s fifth-round stoppage of previously undefeated Kubrat Pulev. The bout was the first of a three-fight deal Klitschko has with HBO.

The 38-year-old champ made his 17th straight defense with the stoppage of Pulev, representing Klitschko’s 26th title bout. His record in title bouts is 24-2 including 22 defenses (over two reigns) that ranks second only to that of the 25 (all consecutive) by the legendary Joe Louis.

Co-promoted by King and De La Hoya, the Stiverne-Wilder card will also feature Leo Santa Cruz (28-0-1, 16 KOs) defending his WBC junior featherweight title against an opponent to be determined, according to the release.

That rival could potentially be three-division titlist Abner Mares, who scored three knockdowns during a third-round stoppage of featherweight rival Jose Ramirez on Saturday.

In his last fight in September, Santa Cruz dropped and stopped Manuel Roman in the second round on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s unanimous decision over Marcos Maidana.

Showtime will also air an episode of All-Access on Jan. 9 at 10:45 p.m. ET/PT in advance of Stiverne-Wilder.