Fingers crossed Deontay Wilder will indeed defend his WBC belt against Luis Ortiz next. The fight, tentatively pencilled in for November 4 in New York with Showtime to televise, has – or had – one big stumbling block: Bermane Stiverne.
As fans know, Stiverne, the former WBC heavyweight champ, remains the WBC mandatory contender and up until recently he wasn’t playing ball at all in terms of allowing Wilder to fight anyone other than himself next. But according to Dan Rafael of ESPN.com, who got his info from “a source with knowledge of the situation,” Stiverne has agreed to terms that will see Wilder-Ortiz go ahead on Nov. 4.
Apparently, the plan is for Stiverne (who has boxed just once since dropping a decision to Wilder in January of 2015, losing his belt in the process) to box on the Wilder-Ortiz under-card (possibly against Dominic Breazeale) with the winner of this supporting bout getting a written agreement that the winner of Wilder and Ortiz would then face them next (Stiverne will also likely get a nice pile of cash as part of the deal if it goes ahead and gets made).
Nothing is official yet and there are many things that could go wrong, but if everything goes right as far as fight fans who very much want to see Wilder against Ortiz are concerned, then we could get a great night of heavyweight boxing in November. It’s unclear where this would leave WBA/IBF heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua, who, after he gets past his IBF mandatory Kubrat Pulev, must grant WBA mandatory Ortiz a title shot.
If Ortiz beat Wilder, he would then be obligated to face the Stiverne-TBA winner, so things could get confusing. Still, as exciting as a Wilder-Ortiz rumble promises to be, fight fans may not care too much. This in-the-works battle between unbeaten big men, both of which are able to punch with serious authority, would perhaps be bigger than any belt.
Who wins? Let’s hope we find out!