Bermane Stiverne overcame major adversity and battled his way to an impressive sixth round knockout of Chris Arreola to win the prestigious World Boxing Council Heavyweight championship title.
With the stunningly impressive performance, the 35-year-old veteran becomes the first Haitian man to win a world heavyweight title.
Both Stiverne and Arreola were successful offensively in the early stages of the fight, with each landing combinations of hard shots. Both of these courageous warriors desperately wanted this important victory and were going after it with their best efforts. Former champion Lennox Lewis tweeted after the first few rounds that he observed both were making defensive mistakes. But that's to be expected when the pressure and stakes are so high.
"The Pugilist Specialist" almost always emphasized his defense during his illustrious career and we know the old saying "Defense wins championships and offense sells tickets" but Stiverne an Arreola had the utmost confidence in their fistic arsenals.
After eating some hard shots in round three, Stiverne was asked by the referee between rounds if he was okay? "Excellent," replied Stiverne. And he proved those words true. Stiverne was just a little sharper and more accurate with his punches, and also a tad quicker. Arreola's balance also seemed slightly inferior to Stiverne. The turning point came in round five when Stiverne landed his best punch, a brutal right hand. Stiverne said after the fight it was the same shot he floored and broke the nose of Arreola with in their first clash last year.
Stiverne added, "I wanted him to feel comfortable, then hit him with the right."
Arreola was nine pounds lighter and clearly in better condition for this rematch but he did not absorb Stiverne's best power shot well as well as he needed to. Arreola stumbled awkwardly, reminiscent of Zab Judah against Kostya Tszyu. He survived the round with some extra seconds provided by the referee (maybe he was in Al Haymon's pocket like Paulie Malignaggi accused certain officials last year).
Stiverne was energized by this turn of events and, with impressive poise and patience, finished the job with a barrage of blockbuster blows in the sixth.
Arreola accepted the "devastating" defeat with the class and grace of a champion and immediately stepped over to embrace his conqueror, who was in a state of triumphant, euphoric joy, laying face first on the canvas for almost a minute.
When the new champion finally stood up he locked his arm around Arreola's head and spoke into his fellow gladiator's ear for about a minute, no doubt professing enormous respect, inspiration and "love" for Arreola, an extremely likeable and charismatic man. Remember, Vitali Klitschko also paid Arreola high respects after beating him in a very tough fight, calling Arreola a future champion. To my knowledge, Vitali Klitschko has only called two of his opponents future champions, Arreola and Kevin Johnson.
But Arreola's time will have to wait some more.
It's the Bermane Stiverne era now. And just where he goes from here is anyone's guess. World Champion Wladimir Klitschko will surely make Stiverne a substantial offer to make a unification match next. Klitschko has said on numerous occasions last week that his biggest goal is to unify and win the WBC belt as soon as possible. However, there are complications. Stiverne's promoter Don King has a history of protecting his heavyweight belt-holders from the Klitschkos (Chris Byrd, John Ruiz, Nikolay Valuev) and the WBC has announced that Stiverne must face his mandatory challenger Deontay Wilder next. Also, Klitschko has been ordered to face his IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev next.
The politics and intrigues of heavyweight boxing are going to increase dramatically in the coming months. But in the meantime, boxing has a wonderfully exciting new star on the heavyweight landscape who has just won a world title in a sensational fashion, comparable to Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali and Vitali Klitschko...and his name is Bermane "BWare" Stiverne.