Deontay Wilder is out to make a statement this weekend as potential fights against divisional rivals Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury edge closer for the coming year.
Recently turning 32, the clock has begun ticking for Wilder to secure what would the biggest fights of his career thus far and only Stiverne stands in the way of ‘The Bronze Bomber’ possibly making some serious money in 2018.
Add to that the fact that Wilder has stopped every fighter he’s ever faced – except Stiverne (who went the distance in 2015) – and there’s still some significance to a surprising decision by the World Boxing Council to give the challenger a mandatory chance despite three years of inactivity.
At Friday’s scaling, Stiverne came in at a massive 254 pounds, a full 34 more than Wilder at a speedy and powerful 220 pounds, which could see the writing firmly on the wall for the bulky Haitian.
Wilder should prove too fast, strong and elusive this time around as Stiverne is a full 15 pounds heavier than their first meeting, which the current title holder scored a knockdown in and subsequently dominated.
A first-half barrage could be too hot for Stiverne to handle as Wilder bids to make it 39-0 wins as a pro with a 38th early night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Fans on social media have accused Stiverne of not taking the fight seriously by coming in so heavy and flabby-looking at the weigh-in, although the pressure is more on Wilder, similarly to Joshua against Carlos Takam last week, to put on an impressive display (which the Briton failed to do).
A summer meeting with Joshua could well be on the cards as Fury’s prospects of a comeback lie in the hands of the UK Anti-Doping Agency and the British Boxing Board of Control – of which any further delay makes Wilder the most attractive option out there for a Wembley unification.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay