Bermane Stiverne was starting to lose hope on a rematch with Deontay Wilder.
Stiverne lost his WBC heavyweight title to Wilder at the MGM Grand Garden Arena almost three years ago. He’s become obsessed with landing the rematch, but there was always a roadblock.
Stiverne, a Las Vegas resident, agreed to fight on the previously scheduled Wilder-Luis Ortiz undercard thinking it could put him a step closer to his coveted rematch.
“I always thought that the fight was never going to happen with Deontay and Ortiz,” Stiverne, 39, said. “If you asked me from the moment they announced the fight. The first thing I said is, ‘This fight is not going to happen. And I’ve got to get ready for Deontay.’”
Stiverne was right. Ortiz had a positive drug test and was dropped from the fight by the WBC last month. Stiverne was moved up for Saturday’s main event against Wilder at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The Showtime-televised card airs at 6 p.m.
Wilder, 32, has made five title defenses since taking the belt away from Stiverne, who has only fought once in the last two years.
Stiverne’s career has been on the decline since his dreadful performance against Wilder. The Haitian-Canadian was sidelined all of 2016 and was made Wilder’s mandatory-challenger a year ago after Alexander Povetkin had a positive drug test.
Not many wanted to see Wilder-Stiverne part two.
“When you look at it right now all that is in the past,” Stiverne said. “That was then and this is now. And like people are trying to say that my inactivity is going to hurt me or things they be saying, I don’t believe so.”
Wilder is hoping to close the chapter on Stiverne with a dominant victory on Saturday. He’s eyeing a mega unification bout with Anthony Joshua in 2018.
“The ultimate goal is to get Joshua,” Wilder said about the WBA and IBF titlist. “Joshua say he need more time, he ain’t ready.”
Vegas Strong Porter
Former welterweight champion Shawn Porter was born and raised in Ohio, but since moving to Southern Nevada, he’s been all about Las Vegas.
Porter will take Las Vegas with him into the ring Saturday when meets Adrian Granados in the co-main event to Wilder-Stiverne. Porter will have the words “Vegas Strong” on his trunks.
“On all of our gear we wrote ‘#VegasStrong,’” Porter said. “We want to send a message to everyone in Vegas that I don’t just live there, but it is part of my heart now.
“My heart goes out to everyone affected by the tragedy and now we are over a month past that. I am fighting for the people of Vegas.”
Porter returns from a dominant April victory over Andre Berto to become the mandatory challenger to WBC welterweight champion Keith Thurman.
Granados is coming off a close loss versus Adrien Broner in February.
“I feel very familiar with Granados at this point,” Porter said. “One night I watched about three or four of his fights and some interviews, and really got to put him in my mind.
“He’s an aggressive fighter who’s not easily hurt or fazed by what’s going on in the ring. Whether that’s him getting hit or an opponent making him miss.”