Tuesday, March 28, 2023  |



Stiverne surprised WBC allowed Povetkin to face him for title

Photo credit: Naoki Fukuda
Fighters Network

Bermane Stiverne likely spoke for a lot of fans when he said he was surprised the WBC ordered a bout between himself and Alexander Povetkin for an interim heavyweight title for the right to face champion Deontay Wilder. Stiverne and Povetkin are set to square off on Dec. 17 in Ekaterinburg, Russia in Povetkin’s backyard.

Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 knockouts) isn’t shocked he got the chance. No, he’s surprised the WBC gave Povetkin a shot after he tested positive for the banned substance meldonium before his WBC title fight with Deontay Wilder in May. Instead of suspending him, citing low levels of the pharmaceutical, the WBC ordered Povetkin (30-1, 22 KOs) and Stiverne to fight for the vacant title.

“I was surprised it was Povetkin, yes,” Stiverne told RingTV.com on Thursday. “Surprised that I got the fight? No. Because Povetkin when he got suspended or whatever — I thought it would be a little longer,” he said even though Povetkin wasn’t suspended at all by the WBC. “I thought this fight was going to be with someone else,” Stiverne went on. “But you know, it’s not (with another opponent), so we get to do it, which is great. The caliber of fighter he is is probably one of the highest — I’m not fighting no bum. I’m fighting one of the top fighters and I’m happy about that because it’s not going to be a walk in the park.”

Stiverne, a former titleholder, expressed wonder he’s facing Povetkin even though there are some who may feel the same way about his own current position. Stiverne failed a drug test ahead of his eliminator with Povetkin for the banned substance methylhexaneamine (also known as dimethyamylamine or “DMAA”) on Nov. 4. The WBC also took a soft approach with Stiverne, ruling the fight with Povetkin could still take place because Stiverne had never tested positive before and because it believes Stiverne didn’t knowingly or intentionally take the substance.

Stiverne is grateful for the WBC for making the fight and allowing it to go forward. He’s looking at the bout with Povetkin as a way to get revenge against Wilder, who easily won a decision against Stiverne in 2015 to wrest away the WBC title.

“This is my key to get to him,” Stiverne said in a phone interview of eventually facing Wilder. “And I’m more than grateful to the WBC to put on this fight. So, at this point, what he did or didn’t do, it’s not really a concern. My concern and what I want is that fight with him and they say I have to go through Povetkin so I can’t wait. I’m ready to go.”