By Przemek Garczarczyk
Photo: Mary Ann Owen
“My prediction is Guerrero doing what he can, but being stopped in 10, maybe 11 rounds. Mayweather Jr just wears you out and breaks your soul,” says #1 WBC heavyweight contender Bermane Stiverne (23-1, 20 KO) in a Fightnews interview. Stiverne also talks about his last fight against Cris Arreola (35-3, 30 KO) and his upcoming challenge against WBC champion Vitali Klitchko (45-2, 41 KO).
Saying that fight with Cris Arreola was the most important fight of your life, would be an understatement.
It would. For nine years, for one reason or another, I was not on many people’s map. When fans, even boxing people were talking about potential champions, they were not talking about me. Long time of waiting for your moment, your chance. I knew that walking into ring against Cris. I knew, I had to prove to everybody, that I belong in the championship discussion. I knew it long time ago, but I have to show it to everybody. I wanted also to prove that I can be a boxer, not just a knockout artist who is looking for one lucky punch. Funny thing is – I’ve always been a boxer. In training camp, this is how I fight – I like to throw many punches, combinations. I was happy that I could be the same during the fight against Arreola.
What was the most important part of your victory against Arreola? Could you single out one reason or there were many?
Two, for sure. First of all it was me. In the end, this is about us in the ring to put together all the work we did during the training camp and just have a cool mind and do it. Tactically, my corner, my trainer did great job preparing me for Arreola. Almost everything – nothing ever is 100 percent – went like we thought it would happen. I was supposed to find out if our tactics are OK in the first two rounds, if there’s something he will do differently. When we knew we’re good with our plan, we started to work. Short, but powerful exchanges; not spending too much time on the ropes and never to stand in front of him were our goals and this exactly what I was doing there. When I knocked him down, I knew that he would try doing the same to me; that he will be desperate, try to finish me off in the championship rounds. It was a tough fight, but before the 12th round, in my corner we decided to change this scenario. I kind of knew that I’m winning this fight that nothing can take this away from me but I wanted to make a statement, and maybe knock him out. It almost happened; maybe if I’d had 30 more seconds, it would. But the statement was there. I proved that I can throw 60+ punches a round and beat very good, tough fighter. I like Cris Arreola, he’s honest, never looks for excuses like many fighters do when they lose. He appreciates all the hard work the other guy did to beat him. We fighters always will have respect for people like Arreola.
By beating Cris, you became #1 WBC title contender. What did you feel when Vitali Klitschko, the current champion, denied all these speculations about his retirement and said he will fight you, no problem?
Happy, very happy. Coming directly from Vitali, great champion, not from some press report, manager, but the man you want to fight – it’s important. It will be very different fight than my last one. I understand that I cannot fight the same way like I fought Arreola. It will be a different fight. You cannot try to box Vitali, stand on the end of his punches. You never win this way. Adamek tried and it did not work for him. You have to risk a lot, get close to him. I know that it’s easier said than done, I realize that but you just have to do it. Another part is mental strength, just knowing that there’s just one way to win. For the next couple of months, I will get some well deserved rest after being three straight months because of Arreola rescheduled camp and then start to get ready for Vitali. There will be no “warm up” fights or anything like that. My next fight will be against WBC champion Vitali Klitschko. Possibly in Germany, but I’m accustomed to fight on other people’s ground. I did it against Cris Arreola.
Vitali is 41 years old and in the couple of days you will be ringside in MGM Grand in Las Vegas watching another ageless wonder – Floyd Mayweather Jr battling Robert Guerrero.
Floyd is one of the best, if not the best fighter of our generation. I have no doubts about it. We were talking about those speculations that Floyd is different, quieter, maybe even tired. People are reading too much into his appearances – Floyd is the same great fighter he was before. Maybe even better then he was. Prison changed him, but I was watching his sparring sessions – sharp, accurate, strong, typical Floyd Mayweather Jr. Age means nothing when you take care of your body like he’s doing, like Bernard Hopkins does every day of the year. My prediction is Guerrero doing what he can, but being stopped in 10, maybe 11 rounds. Mayweather Jr just wears you out and breaks your soul.