A New Champion Crowned
Michael J. Feinberg The Fighting News Reporter
On May 10, 2014, the world crowned a new heavyweight champion. His name is Bermane Stiverne. Pronounce the name anyway you want. He won’t care. He’s just fine with Champ.
Chris Arreola (36-4, 31 KO’s) came into the fight in better shape and more focused than in his last few bouts. In Round 2, he started letting his hands go and began backing up Stiverne. Late in Round 3, he rocked Stiverne (24-1-1, 21 KO’s) with a devastating right hook. Arreola found a groove and began to punish his opponent throughout the next few rounds. There were some unbelievably hard shots landing for Arreola, and it was apparent that this fight may not go the distance.
Falling behind on the scorecards, with his back against the ropes for the majority of the fight, Stiverne unleashed a left-right combo midway through the sixth round that will be remembered for a very long time. The right landed quick & flush onto Arreola’s left temple. It took a second for it to register, and down went Arreola. He beat the count, up on his feet after a long 7 count. He didn’t step forward when first asked by referee Jerry Rees, but was allowed to continue.
Noticeably wobbling, Arreola’s equilibrium was gone, and his legs were a pair of rubber hoses. He began backpedaling for the first time in the fight (and the first time I can ever remember in any of his fights), in an obvious attempt to buy time and regain power to his legs. Stiverne would have none of it, as he chased down Arreola inside of the atypical 17-foot ring. Stiverne knocked Arreola down a second time with a much less-powerful right about 30 seconds after the first. Again, Arreola beat the count and wobbled around, but was allowed to continue. After a few seconds & another barrage of shots from Stiverne, Rees stepped in and ended it.
Stiverne began doing a gitty tap dance similar to the “running man” move from the 80’s, as soon as he saw Rees’s hand go up to signal the end of this contest. Bermane Stiverne had done it. He had become the first Haitian-born heavyweight champion of the world. Asked in the post-fight interview about a mandatory fight with Deontay Wilder or a unification bout with Wladimir Klitschko, Stiverne said, “I don’t give a damn about Wilder or Klitschko right now. Right now, it’s about what I won.” He was clearly not interested in talking business, but rather basking in the glow as the newly crowned WBC Heavyweight Champion of the World.
In a great undercard bout, undefeated Junior Welterweight Amir Imam, stepped up in competition and fought Cuban Olympic bronze medalist, Yordenis Ugas (15-3, 7 KO’s). After a sluggish start, Imam began to establish himself. After a very valiant effort by both men, Imam won a unanimous decision and moved to 14-0 with 12 KO’s. It won’t be long before we see Amir fighting for a title of his own.
ESPN put on a great show, as the card tonight was a great success. Next week, Delvin Rodriguez returns to the ring on Friday Night Fights for what should be another great fight. I’m happy with the matchmaking as of late, as we are beginning to see some great fighters squaring off with one another. Hopefully, this will continue and assist in getting boxing back where it needs to be.
On another note, I wanted to pay tribute to a former professional heavyweight fighter. Jacques Louis, a Haitian-born boxer, was recently killed in a car accident on Long Island, NY. Louis, of Brentwood, NY, was an active pro fighter with a record of 3-1, who fought out of Westbury Gym. He was a beloved man, who leaves behind two wonderful children and countless relatives and friends, was a very dear friend of mine. Jacques would have been proud to have watched this fight and see the first-ever Haitian-born heavyweight champion. R.I.P. Jacques.