NEW YORK: Deontay Wilder will have one eye on a future super-fight with Anthony Joshua on Sunday when he defends his World Boxing Council heavyweight title against Canadian challenger Bermane Stiverne in New York.
Wilder (38-0, with 37 KOs) faces Stiverne for the second time, two years after winning the title from the 39-year-old in a one-sided unanimous victory in Las Vegas in January 2015.
The Canadian earned another crack at Wilder in September after the scheduled challenger, Luis Ortiz, failed a drugs test.
If their first meeting is anything to go by, Wilder is expected to have little difficulty in putting away Stiverne for a second time. Judges scored the first fight 120-108, 119-108 and 118-109 in Wilder’s favour.
Stiverne has blamed health issues for his failure to muster much resistance to Wilder’s onslaught in their first meeting.
“I have no fear heading into this fight. It’s not that I didn’t see the openings in the last fight, I just couldn’t physically perform how I needed to,” said Stiverne. “I had health concerns but now I’ve turned the chapter on that and I’m focused on Saturday night. This is going to be a completely different fight this time around.”
Wilder, 32, laughed off Stiverne’s comments — and warned he will seek a knockout against the only opponent who has taken him the distance.
“He survived the first time. He’s the only one to survive on their feet. I will finish the job this time,” said Wilder.
“Stiverne had a lot of excuses after the last fight. Nobody wants to hear excuses from the loser. He knows what happened. I beat him 12 rounds in a row,” he added. “I think this fight will be even easier for me. He hasn’t improved since we last fought, but I’m going to show him a whole new Deontay Wilder. This is the end of Bermane Stiverne’s career right here.”
An explosive Wilder performance at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn would intensify the drumbeat for the heavyweight match-up that the boxing world craves — a collision against British star Joshua, the reigning IBF and WBA heavyweight champion.
Joshua said after his title defence over Carlos Takam in Cardiff last weekend that a fight with Wilder “has to happen.”
“Boxing needs it and so do I, 100 percent,” he said.
The prospects for that fight however have been complicated by the WBC’s decision to declare the winner of Saturday’s undercard bout between Dominic Breazeale and Eric Molina as the mandatory challenger for Wilder.
Wilder however has accused Joshua of ducking him, and declares that he is ready to fight the Briton.
“As soon as Anthony Joshua accepts the fight, then I’ll be there,” said Wilder. “They’re trying to distract people because they know that I’m a danger to anybody’s career. All their excuses have nothing to do with the sport of boxing.”
The Bronze Bomber continued: “The only thing people care about is the best fighting the best, and that’s what I’m trying to do. I’ve called out every name in the sport. All the top guys have ducked me, so I just have to take care of the people that are able to get in the ring.”
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