Bermane Stiverne defeated Chris Arreola via 6th round TKO on Saturday night, in a fight televised live on ESPN. Touted as for the “WBC Heavyweight Championship of the World”, in reality, Stiverne vs. Arreola II was for nothing but a meaningless series of letters affixed to a worthless green belt.
That’s nothing against Stiverne, and it’s not to take away from his win and performance.
Despite the fact that the rematch was entirely unwarranted and unnecessary — Stiverne had already defeated Arreola without controversy last year — it was an entertaining battle, with plenty of crowd-pleasing toe-toe-action. Stiverne had Arreola hurt early, and then Arreola took control of the fight for several rounds. Stiverne turned things around with one big right hook which ended the affair rather suddenly.
The problem, of course, was with the ridiculous self-created hype of the fight. It really makes the experience hard to justify and stomach as a fight fan. We’re being told that the winner of the Stiverne vs. Arreola rematch is the new “heavyweight champion of the world”. There’s endless yammering about how Don King now promotes and controls the “heavyweight champion” once again, and the implications of that. It’s all bogus.
Wladimir Klitschko is the undisputed heavyweight champion. Before the fight, we had Stiverne ranked as his number 5 contender, with Arreola not even coming close to sniffing a top 10 ranking. On Saturday night, Stiverne defeated a man he already had beaten, picking up a vacant title strap which was handed to him without merit.
The maddening world of sanctioning body politics makes it impossible for a casual fight fan to discern what is actually happening in the sport, while leaving diehard fans turned off at the sheer absurdity of it all.
I applaud Stiverne on the win, and both men for putting on an entertaining fight. Kudos to ESPN to televising a fight live on a Saturday night. I hope they continue to stay involved in the sport, beyond Friday Night Fights. And if Stiverne does indeed take on Deontay Wilder next, the winner will be an undefeated, legitimate challenger to Klitschko’s throne, one whom American fight fans could actually rally behind.
Everyone involved though, from the network, to the fans, to the fighters and the sport itself, would be far better served if we didn’t get force-fed such a load of BS in an attempt to garner interest or ratings.