Bermane Stiverne on his rematch with Chris Arreola: “There’s gonna be a lot of pain and a knockout.”

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David Hopper of 8CN caught up with hard-hitting heavyweight Bermane Stiverene (23-1, 20 KOs). The 35-year-old beat Chris Arreola by unanimous decision last April after flooring him in the third round and breaking his nose. Stiverne and Arreola will meet again this year in a fight for the world title vacated by Vitali Klitchsko, who has left boxing to focus on a political career in Ukraine. The date and venue for the rematch has not yet been determined.

DH: Talk about what’s going on with you. I heard you are currently doing some light training in Las Vegas.

BS: Yeah I’m in camp. I’ve been in the gym since (laughs) I never left the gym to be exact. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.

DH: At this point you know you will fight Chris Arreola again this year, but you don’t know when or where, is that right?

BS: Right, it could be in April or something like that. I’m thinking the latest will be May. You never know. Things happen. Last year it was postponed three times. I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.

DH: So you don’t have any idea what venue the rematch will take place in?

BS: Not for now, but the purse bids on January 17. We’ll go from there. I’ll be able to talk about it after the purse bid.

DH: Does it look like the rematch will be on HBO like the first one, or do you not know at this point?

BS: I’m not sure. That’s not my department. My manager and promoter are taking care of that.

DH: In your view, would being on HBO again be ideal for you?

BS: Um, I’d like to be on HBO. HBO has given me a lot of opportunity. Why not? It’s a big network. It’s the best network out there. Why not?

DH: You won decisively against Arreola in the first match. How does knowing that you were able to beat him handily in the first match impact your strategy going in to the rematch?

BS: None. I’m going in to this fight like I’m fighting a real good puncher. The first fight don’t matter to me. How I beat him or what happened in the first fight, I don’t care. I don’t look at it when I’m going in to the second one.

DH: Were you surprised by Arreola’s toughness and resilience? You broke his nose and floored him early yet he continued to come forward and take a lot of punishment. Did you know he would be that tough or were you thinking you would stop him?

BS:  He was tough, but I was injured. I didn’t throw a lot of right hands because my shoulder was injured. We had to go to Plan B and that was to keep him off me and throw a lot of jabs. That’s what I did. I didn’t even get to do Plan A. We went to Plan B.

DH: What do you think the difference was in the first fight? Do you think you were just the overall more skilled boxer?

BS: More skilled and I used my head. Just to have heart and balls, sometimes you need more than heart and balls. You got to use your head.

DH: You’ve been quoted as saying, ‘Good things come for those who wait.’ You have been patient, but, as boxing fans know, you had been waiting a while for a world title shot. Was that frustrating at all for you? Or are you happy with where your career is right now?

BS: I’m happy. I don’t get frustrated easily. It takes a lot to get me frustrated. I’m happy with the result and I get to put my hands on the belt and the rest is just history.

DH: Your attention is, of course, focused on Chris Arreola right now, but looking forward, how active would you like to be in 2014? How many times would you like to fight this year?

BS: This year I think I'll fight at least two times, but I’m not thinking about that right now.

DH: I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about the heavyweight division. Not counting yourself and the Klitschko brothers, who do you think are best heavyweights in the division right now?

BS: (Laughs). I don’t have any opinion about any of the heavyweights out there. I actually don’t look at the fights or anything like that. My focus is on me. Whoever is next, that’s who I’ll fight. I won’t pick who I’ll fight. I won’t ask for tons of money. I don’t care about the money. I just want to fight. My goal is to be champion and defend the title as much as I can. That’s about it. I don’t look at any heavyweight and try to get a grade, whether they’re good or not good, I don’t do that, nor do I care about that.

DH: I would think you’d have to at least somewhat keep an eye on the division. You’re a boxer and I’d assume you watch some boxing. So as far as, for example, Deontay Wilder’s fights or Tyson Fury’s fights, you really don’t care or pay much attention to what they’re doing?

BS: I don’t. I’m not a fighter who runs his mouth. I’m a quiet guy. Obviously these guys have to talk to be known out there. My way to be known out there is in the ring and throwing punches.

DH: Tyson Fury and David Haye have been two that are known to talk a lot. There are a number of fighters who like to run their mouths. Like you said, that’s not your style. What do think that win over Chris Arreola did for your career? For a lot of fans, that was their first time seeing you fight.

BS: It did a little bit. It didn’t do a lot. I still don’t get the credit. People are saying he didn’t win because his nose was broke. I thought that was part of the game (laughs). If his nose is broke I guess somebody else broke his nose that came to fight me. I don’t know. There was a lot of talking. He didn’t train and this and that. I mean, this is a professional sport. If you don’t respect what you do, you need to get out and do something else. I don’t know any other professional sport where you have athletes that don’t get ready for the playoffs, or the World Cup, or fighting for the world title. I don’t know any athlete that does that.

DH: So despite your dominating performance over Arreola, you got the sense that a lot of people were making excuses for Arreola, saying that if this and that would have happened Arreola would have won. Do you see the rematch as an opportunity to silence the critics and show that the first fight wasn’t a fluke? Does that enter your head at all going in to this fight?

BS: No, not at all. I will make sure that this fight is done properly and once and for all. After this fight, Arreola will be retiring or he will officially be the gatekeeper.

DH: Speaking of retiring, what have you heard about Vitali Klitschko? Obviously he has decided to go into politics. You were all set to fight him. Do you think he will fight again?

BS: I don’t know. We knew last year, a long time ago, that he was not gonna come back. I knew I was going to fight for the title. We knew from good sources that he was not coming back. He asked for more time to think about it. We knew what was going on. We knew he was not coming back. I don’t watch or I don’t read comments. I don’t do that. I don’t have time to read about what they say about me or other fighters or what Vitali is gonna do or if he’s coming back or not.

DH: I read an article where you were quoted saying that it doesn’t matter to you whether or not you fight a Klitschko for the world title.

BS: It doesn’t. If you’re heavyweight champion of the world, what better crown than this one? It doesn’t really matter who I’m fighting. I’m trying to make history and be the first Haitian to be heavyweight champion. That’s all I really care about. I don’t care who I’m fighting. It doesn’t matter.

DH: Like you said, if you were to become heavyweight world champion, you would be the first Haitian to do so. Is than an added motivation and would that make it even more special knowing you were the first Haitian to become world champion?

BS: Yeah, of course, my motivation is through the roof right now, to carry a whole country on my shoulder. But also, I’m motivated to bring the belt back to America. That’s where I live. What better way to do it?

DH: Andre Berto is another Haitian boxer that comes to mind. I’m not familiar with the boxing scene in Haiti. Do the Haitian people seem to be passionate about boxing? Does there seem to be a sizable fan base there?

BS: Very much, just like Adonis Stevenson is the world champion right now.  He just came back from Haiti a few weeks ago. It was a chaos over there. A lot of people came out to see him and support him. Boxing is very big there.

DH: Anything you’d like to add or say to your fans out there?

BS: Well, if I do have fans, they’re going to see not a great fight, but a great performance. There’s gonna be a lot of pain and a knockout. Expect to see the title coming back to America and when they ask who did it just say, ‘He was Haitian.’ (laughs). I’m gonna bring the titles to America, that’s what’s about to happen. 

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