Can Bermane Stiverne defeat Alexander Povetkin, in Russia?

As fight fans have probably read by now, Alexander Povetkin’s team won the purse bid for the clash for the vacant interim WBC title, against Bermane Stiverne. This, most people think, means the fight will almost certainly be staged somewhere in Russia. We should have seen “real” WBC heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder face Povetkin in Russia this summer, only for the fight to fall apart due to well-documented and disappointing reasons.

Now, with an injured Wilder awaiting the Povetkin-Stiverne winner, former WBC boss “B-Ware” faces the daunting task of taking the long trip to Russia to face Povetkin. It could very well be a big ask of Stiverne, now aged 37 (he’ll turn 38 in November) to come home with the interim version of his former belt.

Not only is Stiverne the older man (albeit by less than a year), not only will he be facing Povetkin in Russia, but Stiverne will also be battling some serious inactivity and the very real possibility of ring-rust that goes along with being idle. Since dropping a 12-round decision to Wilder in January of 2015, Stiverne has fought just once – and he didn’t look good. Decisioning Derric Rossy over over ten rounds in November of last year, Stiverne suffered a knockdown and looked sluggish.

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The former champ – who became the first Haitian-born fighter to win a world heavyweight title – will need a much better performance if he’s to beat Povetkin. The former WBA belt-holder has been inactive himself (due to the Wilder fight collapsing); having last boxed, like Stiverne, in November of 2015. But the difference is, in his most recent outings, Povetkin looked impressive; stopping Mike Perez in style and then giving the huge Mariusz Wach a sustained hammering.

Povetkin, who, unlike Stiverne, has never been stopped, has faced far better opposition than his upcoming foe – including Wladimir Klitschko (for Povetkin’s only loss as a pro,) Carlos Takam, Hasim Raham (albeit a close to “shot” version), Ruslan Chagaev and Chris Byrd. In comparison, Chris Arreola (X2) and Wilder aside, there are no really notable names on Stiverne’s record.

How much has Stiverne got left? How good was he when he was champion? If he is to defeat Povetkin, Stiverne will arguably be scoring the biggest win of his entire career. How many 37/38-year old fighters do that? To repeat, the odds look to be against Stiverne in a major way entering this fight.

If the form-book is to be obeyed, we will likely get to see that Wilder-Povetkin showdown go down approximately a year after it was first set to take place.