Fresh off of his win against Gerald Washington, the WBC has installed Bermane Stiverne as the mandatory challenger for heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, lining-up a sequel to their early 2015 fight.
Wilder had originally been slated to face Alexander Povetkin in a mandatory title fight last May, but that was nixed when Povetkin failed a pre-fight drug test. Then, after a bunch a fancy lawyering, it was then expected that Povetkin would instead face Stiverne for the right to be named Wilder’s mandatory challenger. But once again Povetkin would fail another pre-fight drug test, forcing Stiverne to withdraw from that fight.
It was generally believed that the WBC would find another fighter to take on Stiverne in a final eliminator match, but the sanctioning body has instead decided to just give Stiverne a shot straightaway.
"The World Boxing Council officially confirms Bermane Stiverne as mandatory contender for Deontay Wilder, Heavyweight champion. Free negotiations for this rematch begin (February 27)," a WBC statement read.
Stiverne lost his heavyweight title to Wilder by unanimous decision in Jan. 2015. He didn’t look great in that outing and mentioned afterwards that he was suffering from dehydration (for which he was treated at a local hospital). Stiverne has only fought once since then, winning a decision against Derric Rossy in Nov. 2015, and was on the sidelines for all of 2016.