Ahead of his clash with Joe Joyce, Bermane Stiverne insisted he’s no ‘stepping stone’ whilst opening up on the pair trading blows in a sparring session four years ago.
Stiverne, a former WBC heavyweight champion, is set to face Commonwealth title holder Joyce on the undercard of James DeGale’s London clash with Chris Eubank Jr.
The two collided in training before the Canadian was due to defend his world title against Luis Ortiz. The Cuban powerhouse then failed a drug test, meaning Deontay Wilder nipped in to take Stiverne’s crown via points decision.
Recalling the session, Stiverne explained it was nothing to write home about.
“I’ve sparred him twice,” the 40-year-old puncher explained to World Boxing News in an exclusive interview from camp. “There wasn’t really much in it, only three or four rounds.
“I wouldn’t say he’s a tricky heavyweight. He’s good and solid.”
But rumours, likely circulated by Joyce’s camp, suggested the Brit had gotten the better of his dancing partner. Stiverne, as you’d expect, disagrees.
“I heard he’d said that I was a punching bag and that he’d punched my lights out. People talk, it really doesn’t matter,” said ‘B-Ware’ before offering video evidence. “I have all of the rounds filmed. If I wanted to I could easily put them on YouTube and you would see what happened.
“I moved my head and didn’t take many punches, it wasn’t too serious. It’s only sparring. Some people rely on sparring, fighting in the ring is completely different.”
Joyce, a decorated amateur promoted by Richard Schaefer, is looking to move into contention and challenge for world honours after just seven professional fights.
Adding to his record by beating a well-known past champion could catapult the 33-year-old from domestic star to title contender. Stiverne could also provide much-needed traction in America – a situation the veteran is all too aware of.
“I’m guessing that they see me as a stepping stone or a gate-keeper,” he pondered. “In boxing, you have to go one step at a time and I believe they’re skipping a few steps by taking me on.”
A fit and motivated Stiverne potentially presents Joyce, who has yet to go the distance over 12 rounds, with a different and more durable challenge to those previous foes.
And Stivene, the first heavyweight champion of Haitian descent, has been training hard to prove the doubters wrong. Especially after Wilder brutally KO’d him early in a 2017 rematch.
“I think they thought that when they called me that they’d caught me with my pants down, but I was already in the gym.
“I’m prepared to fight. I’m not travelling all the way to London to lose. I believe in what I can do,” added Stiverne.
James Copley is a Staff Writer for World Boxing News. Follow James on Twitter @JamesCopley73