Franklin Lawrence And Bermane Stiverne, Two Heavyweights To Keep An Eye On


By James Slater: Two largely unknown heavyweights who may not stay so unknown, fought and fought well in winning bouts last night. First of all, on the under-card of the Bradley-Alexander unification clash in Detroit, 32-year-old Bermane Stiverne scored a sensational 2nd-round KO over the previously unbeaten Kertson Manswell of Trinidad and Tobago. A cracking left/right combo to the head sent the 34-year-old to the mat, flat on his back.

Manswell beat the count but he was out on his feet. Some poor refereeing allowed Stiverne to bang the older man with some unnecessary shots, including an impressive-looking double left hook to the head. The man who was born in Haiti but now lives in Las Vegas improved to 20-1-1(19). Manswell is now 20-1(15).

Okay, neither Don King-promoted fighter has been in with any world class opposition yet, and it’s maybe too early to get exited about Stiverne. But the 6’2,” approx 238-pounder has the look of a good fighter. Athletic, fast-handed and powerful, the man known as “B. Ware” has a good left jab and an even better left hook. The sole loss on Stiverne’s record came in 2007, when he was TKO’d in the 4th by Demetrice King (next for David Tua, reportedly). That loss doesn’t look pretty, but since then the amateur standout has kept a clean sheet (the draw came against Charles Davis, who has just held Monte Barrett to a draw).

Largely inactive last year, with just one fight, the 32-year-old looked impressive last night. Certainly worth keeping any eye on, the puncher might just go on to win a big fight.

As for Indianopolis’ Franklin Lawrence – who, curiously enough, was stopped in a round by Stiverne in 2006, when he injured his arm in the early going – the 35-year-old is on something of a roll right now. Last night, in following up his 7th-round KO of the huge Lance Whitaker, the man known as “Yah-Yah” scored a win over a talented young fighter. In New York, Lawrence became the first man to stop Jason “Big Six” Estrada, TKO’ing him in the 10th-round. The former Olympian was having his first fight back since losing that close decision to Tomasz Adamek in February of last year, and he was expected to beat the man five years his senior.

Instead, Lawrence had Estrada badly hurt in the 3rd-round, almost taking out the Rhode Island man. “Big Six” came back in the middle rounds, using his counter-punching skills to good effect as the pace slowed. But then, when he was all but exhausted, Estrada was cut and hurt in the 8th and then pretty much battered all over the ring in the 10th and final round. Estrada has a point deducted for hitting low in the eventful 10th, before a left/right combo sent him reeling into the ropes.

At this point, the ref dived in and stopped the fight. Lawrence, who has been stopped just once (the arm injury) is now 14-2-2(9) and he is beginning to work his way into title contention. It may be the end for Estrada, who fell to 16-4-(4).

A great idea would be to match Lawrence and Stiverne in a return fight. Both men have improved a lot since their July 2006 meeting, and either guy could become a key player in the heavyweight division in the months to come.