More was much less for Bermane Stiverne and Don King
For 86-year-old Don King, it must have been like going back in time, as he saw a round and soft Bermane Stiverne come in at an eye-opening 254.75 pounds for his rematch against WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder, this past weekend, at the Barclays Center, in Brooklyn, New York.
Stiverne was reminiscent of the lost generation of 1980s heavyweights of the King-dom, that included Tony Tubbs, Greg Page and Tim Witherspoon. They were talented to various degrees but severely lacking in any real motivation or desire. Back then, as King ruled the sport – and specifically the heavyweight division – the world title belts were basically interchangeable and they weren’t so much won by any individual fighter but held in perpetuity by King, until a young Michael Gerard Tyson came along to bring clarity to the game’s most lucrative weight class.
After complaining of “dehydration” after his listless outing against Wilder in January of 2015 (and yeah, a heavyweight who is dehydrated is eyebrow raising), when he weighed in at 239 pounds, this time around he came in much more…ummm, hydrated.
Alas, bigger was not better for Stiverne, who was only in this spot because Luis Ortiz and his handlers ran afoul of VADA in a pre-fight drug test. And much more weight was certainly less for Stiverne’s chances, as he was sent to the floor thrice in the last minute of round number one. As the fight was waved off, it looked like a prone Stiverne was attempting to do the limbo on the bottom rope. (And yes, memes are already popping up all over the Worldwide Web.)
While their first encounter was a long and methodical affair, Wilder-Stiverne II was short and explosive. And it brings about the end of Stiverne as a relevant fighter. At age 39, there isn’t much of a future for him and this particular loss wasn’t just devastating in nature but after all his threats and tough talk, to get blown out in the fashion he did, it was downright embarrassing. But for as much as Stiverne can be blamed for his physical condition, coming into this bout, and his performance during it, King himself was complicit, as he got Stiverne all of one fight between his two fights against Wilder.
(To his credit, King’s everlasting influence with the WBC allowed Stiverne to stay as high in the ratings, even after only facing Derric Rossy nearly two years ago. Hey, some things never change.)
King is the “lion in winter,” who doesn’t so much promote boxers anymore but simply has paper on them, as he lets their careers languish into “Bolivian” (as Mike Tyson would say). Unlike his arch-rival Bob Arum, King never evolved and developed his business into the 21st century. Arum – who is almost the same age as King (at 85) – is still very much an influential figure in the sport, while King is now just a figurehead, who will show up to press conferences with his vast array of flags to remind people that he’s still around.
The man who once promoted the “Thrilla in Manila” and the “Rumble in the Jungle” was now reduced to hoping and praying that the rather passionless Stiverne would keep him afloat. Unless something dramatic and unforeseen happens in the near future, this will most likely be the last heavyweight title fight with which King will ever be involved.
Stiverne and King now ride off into the sunset. Both very much symbolic of each other’s demise.
OK, I spent much of Saturday at Barney’s Beanery in West Hollywood (yeah, the place Jim Morrison liked to throw down drinks) to watch college football, specifically Miami-Virginia Tech (and how bout dem ‘Canes!), but here are some thoughts on this weekend’s boxing, which I did catch up on later…
– Yeah, Wilder, 39-0 (38) is flawed technically but it says here that not many have his blend of size, length and natural power. It’s the type of power that can camouflage other defiencies. For as vulnerable as he is, at times, he’s also just as dangerous, which is why perhaps Eddie Hearn will make the match-up with IBF/WBA titlist Anthony Joshua when they feel it’s most advantageous to them.
– It’s about time that the management of Adrian Granados stopped being as courageous as its client. Yeah, it’s admirable that Granados won’t turn down a fight (and, really, he has no choice) but can those who are entrusted to handle this career put him in a better situations moving forward? The latest was his fight this past weekend against the much bigger and stronger former IBF welterweight beltholder Shawn Porter, who defeated him over 12 tough, grinding rounds.
Granados is really a 140-pounder and he faced the bull-in-a-China-shop, who is Porter at 147. Just eyeballing the pair, you could see that Granados was once again facing an uphill battle physically. As usual, the Chicago native emptied the bucket and gave everything he had but it simply wasn’t enough.
As for Porter, who became the mandatory for WBC 147-pound champion, Keith Thurman (who also holds the WBA strap), it was his typical outing: not asthetically pleasing but certainly effective. If there is a fighter today who is more about will than skill, it’s this guy. There is no other boxer I’d rather give the ball to at the goal line than this former high school running back.
– Dmitry Bivol blasted out Trent Broadhurst in one round in Monaco to successfully defend his WBA light heavyweight title. There’s no doubt that Bivol has some real tools, which is why HBO has made an investment in this career. So far, he passes the eye test and figures to be a significant figure in the 175-pound class for years to come. At age 26, he’s just entering his physical prime.
Looking at the WBA ratings, it seems like he’s in line to face Sullivan Barrera (who fights on November 25 against Felix Valera) in the early part of next year.
It says here that Sergey Lipinets did enough to outpoint Akihiro Kondo to win the vacant IBF 140-pound title but it was certainly tougher than expected…Luis Nery stopped Arthur Villanueva in six in a fun fight, down in Mexico…For those who asked, no, I am not going to Fresno this weekend for the Top Rank/ESPN card (although heading out there for a big Jose Ramirez event is certainly on my bucket list) because Miami-Notre Dame is the main event this Saturday night…When it’s filled up, Hard Rock Stadium is a real home field advantage for “The U”…”A Football Life” on Jim Kelly was incredible. I maintain he’s the most important player in Miami history as he lead the renaissance of the program…The Rams and Sean McVey are for real but so are the Eagles of Philadelphia…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.