May, 15, 2014
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com
For those hoping for a heavyweight title unification fight between champion Wladimir Klitschko and newly crowned titleholder Bermane Stiverne, don’t get too excited.
It is unlikely to happen next.
Klitschko is the recognized champion. He holds three major sanctioning organization titles, is the lineal champion and has made 16 title defenses in a reign that has lasted more than eight years. However, he would like to get his hands on the one belt he has never won, the WBC version, which his older brother, Vitali Klitschko, owned for years before vacating and retiring in December.
On Saturday, Stiverne (24-1-1, 21 KOs) knocked out Chris Arreola in the sixth round to win the vacant title and Klitschko (62-3, 53 KOs) said he wanted him next for what would be the biggest heavyweight fight in boxing.
Not so fast.
The WBC is not going to allow it to happen, instead insisting that Stiverne first make a mandatory defense against unbeaten -- but entirely untested -- Deontay Wilder.
“The agreements must be respected. We made that decision at the last convention and Deontay Wilder is the mandatory challenger. So Bermane Stiverne has to face him first,” WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman said in a statement on the organization’s website.
For what it’s worth, neither Stiverne nor Don King, his promoter, sounded remotely interested in a fight with Klitschko or Wilder next when they spoke at the news conference following Stiverne’s victory against Arreola in Los Angeles.
King said that Stiverne could take an optional defense (contrary to what the WBC has ordered) and he talked about taking him around the world for defenses against opponents he did not name.