Bermane Stiverne is enjoying life as a heavyweight champion.
The 35-year-old from Haiti, who lives in and trains in Las Vegas, won the World Boxing Council belt May 10 in Los Angeles by stopping Chris Arreola in the sixth round. And while he has only one piece of a four-piece set (Wladimir Klitschko owns the other three belts), Stiverne has seen his life change in the five weeks he has been champion.
“More people recognize me now since I won the title,” he said Friday. “That’s different than what I’m used to.
“People call me ‘Champ’ now. I like that. It has a nice sound to it. But I’m still the same guy I was before I won the title. I still don’t have cable (TV). I don’t want it. I like to be low-key.”
Stiverne said his social media visibility has increased dramatically. He picked up more than 2,000 followers on Instagram after beating Arreola and 5,000 new followers on Twitter. He also has come out with a free app — IamBWare.
“It’s a great way for me to communicate with my fans,” Stiverne said. “I can go directly to them with what’s on my mind. I like that.”
Stiverne (24-1-1, 21 knockouts) is headed to Miami today and then Haiti, where he will be received by President Michel Martelly. He will return to Las Vegas in mid-July and resume training. He expects to defend his belt in the fall, probably against Deontay Wilder of Tuscaloosa, Ala., the World Boxing Council’s No. 1 mandatory challenger, who is 31-0 and has won every fight by knockout.
“I don’t see it as a special fight; I see it as my first title defense,” Stiverne said. “But I take every fight seriously. I can fight a tomato can and I’m going to fight just as hard.”
Stiverne said he has been approached about endorsements. Nothing big so far, but he knows if he keeps the belt, those opportunities will materialize.
“But for me, it’s not about the money,” he said. “I want Wilder. He can talk all the trash he wants, but that’s all it is — trash. And we all know where trash belongs.”
■ HOLYFIELD CONFIRMS — Add former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield to the list of inductees who have confirmed they will attend the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame dinner and induction ceremony Aug. 9 at the Tropicana.
Holyfield, 51, who had a record of 44-10-2 with 29 KOs, is being inducted as a member of the “Non-Nevada Resident” category. He fought 20 times in Nevada, mostly in Las Vegas.
Holyfield, who last fought in 2011, is expected to announce his official retirement at the ceremony.
Tickets to the event are available at nvbhof.com.
■ MOLINA’S NEXT FIGHT — After spending more than two months locked up in Southern Nevada detention centers, Carlos Molina, the International Boxing Federation junior middleweight champion, will defend his title Sept. 6 in Cancun, Mexico, against former titleholder Cornelius “K-9” Bundrage.
Molina (22-5-2, six KOs) won the belt from Las Vegas’ Ishe Smith on Sept. 13 and was scheduled to defend it against Jermall Charlo on March 8 at the MGM Grand Garden. But Molina was arrested upon arrival in Las Vegas on March 4 for an outstanding warrant in Wisconsin. It was later learned Molina had been deported from the U.S. and returned to the country illegally.
He was placed in the Clark County Detention Center while the outstanding warrant charge was litigated by his attorneys and Wisconsin law enforcement officials. He later was transferred to the ICE detention facility in Henderson, where he remained until May 6, when he was deported back to Mexico.
Bundrage (33-5, 19 KOs) lost the title to Smith in February 2013, then won a title eliminator in January to become the mandatory No. 1 contender.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.