For the first time in a long, we have a heavyweight boxing match to look forward to, as Deontay Wilder will fight WBC champion Bermane Stiverne at MGM Grand Garden Arena this Saturday at 7 p.m. The fight will air on Showtime.
“We want to recapture the glory of yesteryear,” boxing promoter Don King said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “This is the 40th anniversary of Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle and the Thrilla in Manila the following year. So I think it’s a great opportunity for the fans now – because we’re going to give boxing back to the people. And the knockout record between these guys collectively is 95 percent.”
Wilder, 29, is 32-0, with all victories coming via knockout. In fact, he’s never made it to the fifth round. Stiverne, 36, is 24-1-1 with 21 knockouts.
“He is the champion,” King said of Stiverne. “The struggle has been long and hard, but he has become the WBC heavyweight champion, and he is now defending his crown against this knockout artist.”
The knock on Wilder – at least according to Stiverne – is that he hasn’t faced a great deal of quality competition. Stiverne is nothing if not that, so the fight should be highly entertaining.
It will also be symbolic.
“The most important thing is that we are bringing boxing back to America,” King said. “Heavyweight boxing (is) going back to the people. Recapturing the glory of yesteryear. Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Ken Norton, Evander Holyfield. And now we’re passing this torch to this young man, Bermane Stiverne. He’s more like (Mike) Tyson than anything else. It’s a must-see. Get it on Showtime.”
Gottlieb asked King why – and when – the heavyweight championship stopped being the preeminent title in all of boxing. King blamed the Klitschko brothers, Wladimir and Vitali. King said both are great people and great champions, but they almost always fight in Europe, usually Germany.
They, in essence, took the heavyweight title out of America.
“Bermane beat Chris Arreola on May 10, but that was a fight for a vacant title,” King explained. “This is the first championship match (in America) we have had in over 10 years. Now we’re back in the United States (with) this return to glory of when heavyweight boxing captivated the audience and they became a part and parcel of the heavyweight championship fights. We call it the return to glory, and we are giving the people a chance to participate in these great events.
“We’re going to do it through enthusiasm and emotion and who’s the best and giving an opportunity to those in the land of opportunity that will (give) them an opportunity to be yesterday’s nobody and tomorrow’s somebody.”
Switching gears a bit, King was asked about a potential fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao that is reportedly being discussed. Mayweather (47-0) turns 38 in February, while Pacquiao (57-5-2) just turned 36.
“Everybody wants to see a showdown between Mayweather and Pacquiao,” King said. “It would have been much much bigger emotionally (if they had fought several years ago). It would still be a good fight, but not of the pristine variety that it would have been with two undefeated fighters meeting each other.”