The soundbites that emanate back and forth between competing gladiators in the build-up to a significant fight are a big part of selling the event and are par for the course in the modern pugilistic era. But a few days away from defending his newly won WBC heavyweight title against Deontay Wilder, Bermane Stiverne is unwilling to engage in verbal sparring with the man who will challenge him for real at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on January 17th.
In an interview with skysports.com, Stiverne insists he is retaining an objective mindset ahead of what is surely the biggest fight of his career thus far.
“I really don’t feel any emotions towards Deontay Wilder. The most important thing for me is to defend my world title.”
That is a task requiring much mental discipline when you consider the aura surrounding Wilder as the result of his terrifying power, not one man has gone the distance with him in thirty-two fights. But Stiverne appears to be taking solace from the fact that he is the man wearing that green strap, an affirmation of his own ability.
“He doesn’t have anything that I want. I am the champ. This is fighting, this is boxing, this is for real. I keep my concentration on the fight.”
However, he claims he is not becoming complacent as a result of his own status or Wilder’s relative inexperience having not gone beyond four rounds in any of his bouts up to this point. Stiverne is fully prepared to take Wilder in to the trenches, a place he’s been nowhere near before and where many believe he will reveal his true colours.
“We trained like he was the champion. We didn’t talk about his past experience. We trained like he has gone 12 rounds before.”
In closing Stiverne revealed the significance he places on his own position as heavyweight champion of the world when he said,
“I’m here to fight for the people. I fight to inspire people anywhere in the world, that’s my responsibility since I am the world champion.”
He does indeed have a people to fight for, a downtrodden people at that. Stiverne is the first ever Haitian-born boxer to win a heavyweight title, something he will long be remembered for even if he drops the ball in his first defence. But make no mistake, he and the other stray belt holder Ruslan Chagaev -who wears the WBA Regular heavyweight title- stand in the gargantuan shadow cast by the definitive article; Wladimir Klitshcko. As long as Klitshcko continues to ply his trade, all other happenings within the division are secondary regardless of how excited we all are for Stiverne vs Wilder.