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Stiverne vs. Wilder: Winner will soon get offer to fight heavyweight champion of the world

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In the minds of many American fight fans, the heavyweight division will be re-energized and resuscitated on Saturday, Jan. 17 when fellow countryman and undefeated knockout-artist Deontay Wilder (32-0, 32 KOs) challenges Bermane Stiverne (24-1-1, 21 KOs) for his WBC title. This potentially incendiary clash will be held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nev. and televised live on Showtime (10 p.m. EST/7 p.m. PST).

In what almost promises to be an intense, hard-hitting action attraction between two gritty combatants who genuinely don’t like each other, there is so much more on the line for both men than the highly-coveted “green belt” and the recognition that comes with being a heavyweight champion.

There also lies the golden opportunity to fight the universally-recognized lineal heavyweight champion of the world, Wladimir Klitschko, for “all the marbles” later this year.

Klitschko has been very public about his long-term intentions to take the WBC strap from whoever wins this match-up.

In fact, he was lobbying the IBF to allow him to fight Stiverne for the WBC title — which was previously owned by his brother Vitali for several years — before being forced to face his mandatory challenger, Kubrat Pulev, back in November.

Klitschko, who already owns all the other major titles and belts, has made it no secret that finally unifying the heavyweight division is a major career goal and his team will push hard to secure a fight with the WBC champion, whoever that is on Jan. 18, as soon as they can get it. That’s what he wants, but what about Stiverne and Wilder?

For Stiverne, this fight is huge because it’s his first title defense and if he loses, he risks being labeled a fluke who never really deserved to be a world champion. He also could lose the opportunity to fight Klitschko in a big-money unification bout that’d certainly be the largest payday of his career. So, winning the next two fights seems like a must if the 36-year-old has realistic expectations of becoming the legit king of the division.

“Don't blink on Jan. 17. I am the heavyweight champion of the world and nobody is going to beat me," states Stiverne. "I'm excited and I'm looking forward to making a statement. Talk is cheap. I do my talking in the ring.”

“I'm all business…the only time he's going to get my attention is the night of the fight. I promise you, he will get more than he bargained for and more than he's expecting."

It may not seem logical, but the 29-year-old Wilder might be feeling more pressure than Bermane in some ways. After all, he has the weight of a nation riding on his shoulders after emerging as the American heavyweight hopeful. It’s a sentiment that began when he won the bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics and has only continued to grow in the pro ranks.

This is a huge bout for Wilder as well because it’s his first world title fight and the perfect chance to showcase his talent and skill on a much larger stage. He’s still unbeaten with a 100-percent knockout ratio, so it’s not difficult to understand why many are picking him to win via stoppage.

If Deontay is victorious, he could very well become a star overnight with the potential to re-ignite mainstream interest in boxing in the minds of American sports fans and casual observers.

Fight Saga’s Joseph Herron recently interviewed Hall-of-Fame promoter Don Chargin and he made an importantly revealing comment:

"People like to discount the cultural relevance of the heavyweight division, but historically the big men have always served as boxing's primary ambassadors. History tells us that nothing transcends excitement and enthusiasm more rapidly across a mainstream audience than a dramatic and action filled heavyweight fight. The overwhelming perception of the sport can change with one great performance in the ring. I've seen it happen many times throughout boxing history."

As the new WBC champion, Wilder would get the same opportunity to fight Klitschko in what would sell out a large soccer stadium in Germany and likely become a pay-per-view blockbuster type of heavyweight fight.

Most boxing analysts and writers believe Deontay has a better chance than Stiverne at defeating the champ because he’s taller and rangier (6’ 6 ½”, 83” reach) with tremendous knockout power in his right hand.

Did I mention that he’s also one of Klitschko’s former sparring partners?

“Now I can make all my dreams come true, I can make it a reality,” states Wilder.

“America is yearning for a heavyweight world champion. We haven't had a real one since the days of Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield. Everyone just sits back and remembers the glory days. America has been waiting for their champion and I've arrived.”

Although supremely confident, if Wilder loses this fight on the cards — or worse yet, gets knocked out by Bermane — his critics will simply claim that his resume was full of “pretenders not contenders” and that he was knocking out “tomato cans” and “cab drivers” all along. Can “The Bronze Bomber” become the first American heavyweight to hold a major title since 2006 and go on to bring the heavyweight championship of the world back to the U.S.?


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