Bermane Stiverne to face Alexander Povetkin in a must-win bout…in Russia
A meaningful heavyweight tango will unfold Saturday, in Russia, one of the few remaining higher-profile tangoes to run before 2016 runs out the clock.
Bermane Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 knockouts), the Haitian-born heavyweight who held the WBC title, will scrap with Alexander Povetkin in Ekaterinburg.
The interim WBC title is up for grabs, with many liking the 30-1 (22 KOs) Russian to get the “W” in his homeland this weekend.
I checked in with Stiverne’s trainer Don House to get some lowdown on the event and his man’s frame of mind and body. “Bermane is great,” the Las Vegan told me, after brushing the snow off his parka. “He will win and win big. He’s a better fighter than his opponent and we didn’t travel this far to lose!”
Stiverne, who turned 38 last month, hasn’t been very active. He gloved up once in 2014, twice in 2015, with his most recent bout coming in November of last year. He scored a 10-round unanimous decision win over the always rugged Derric Rossy in Vegas. Oh, but the 37-year-old Povetkin hasn’t been gloving up much either. He fought twice in 2014, and twice in 2015. His most recent bout came in November 2015 and he scored a 12th round TKO victory over Mariusz Wach. You might recall Povetkin was slated for a high-stakes waltz with WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder this summer but that fight was scratched because Povetkin tested positive for meldonium, and the event got canceled six days before fight night in May. The two sides instead got busy battling in the courts over the snafu.
House, who some know from his work as a cutman in UFC, told me, “We know we can’t go the distance and win. We know how this game works!” Smart insight from the vet, Stiverne quadruples his chance of winning if he stops Povetkin, who has not been stopped, and whose sole loss came in October 2013, to Wladimir Klitschko. “This fight is a fight of will,” House continued. “Both fighters need this win. Bermane has the ability and the power.” The stakes are this: Deontay Wilder holds the WBC belt. He’s training now, after suffering arm and hand injuries in his last bout. So the Stiverne-Povetkin winner gets a crack at the big league crown.
House says Stiverne, who resides in Vegas, is in it to win it. “He is very focused. The weight came off and I built more muscle.” Stiverne sometimes is in the high-230s and, sometimes, the mid-250s so we shall see where the scale sits this time. “We didn’t spend a lot of time doing things we know how to do. We did a lot of work outside the boxing gym. Strength, core balancing and heart rate conditioning, running hills and sprints.”
OK then, sounds like this could be A-grade Stiverne looking to get another bite of the title apple. Readers, talk to me…Who wins Stiverne vs. Povetkin, and how?
In contrast to Bermane Stiverne, Michael Woods does spend a lot of time doing things he knows how to do. What? Would you rather he eat handfuls of wasabi-covered peas right prior to breaking out in an a cappella version of Train’s “She’s on Fire” while wearing a hot pink Speedo on the subway? Again, NOT in his wheelhouse.
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