Heavyweight Bermane Stiverne said he is "confident" of earning a knockout in Saturday's rematch with Chris Arreola, whom he dropped in the third round of a unanimous decision victory in April of last year.
In their previous bout, Stiverne (23-1-1, 20 knockouts), 35, landed a vicious right hand that floored Arreola (36-3, 31 KOs) in the third round, shattering his nose, which bled for the remainder their bout.
Arreola, 33, has said he is "desperate" as well as rededicated for their clash at the USC Galen Center in Los Angeles, Calif., for the WBC belt vacated in the wake of Vitali Klitschko's retirement. Arreola bounced back from the loss to Stiverne with a first-round knockout of highly-touted Seth Mitchell in September.
Arreola is attempting to become the first heavyweight titleholder of Mexican descent and Stiverne, the first of Haitian descent.
Wladimir Klitschko is the RING, IBF, WBA and WBO champion and made his most recent defense with a fifth-round technical knockout of Alex Leapai, whom he floored three times last month.
The Stiverne-Arreola winner has been mandated to defend against Deontay Wilder (31-0, 31 KOs), who was last in the ring for a 96-second stoppage win over Malik Scott in March.
In addition, there was a second mandatory ordered by the WBC between unbeaten fighters Mike Perez and Bryant Jennings for May 24, the winner of which will face that between Wilder and the victor of the Stiverne-Arreola match-up.
Also, in March, 42-year-old southpaw Tony Thompson appears to have revived his career via split decision over Odlanier Solis was a bout for the WBC's vacant international belt.
RingTV.com has sought the opinions of 21 insiders for their thoughts on what will transpire in Stiverne-Arreola II.
Bermane Stiverne W 12 Chris Arreola: I like Bermane Stiverne in the rematch by decision. I think he has the confidence of already beating Chris Arreola once and I can see him being even better the second time around, maybe even mirroring the first fight by scoring a knockdown during the contest.
Record: 2-1 [Last pick: Hopkins UD 12 Shumenov]
Chris Arreola mid-rounds KO Bermane Stiverne: Whatever happens on Saturday, Chris Arreola will have either won or lost or fought to a draw in his absolute best physical shape.
Perhaps I'm getting sucked into the hype but I believe his best will be too much for Bermane Stiverne, who hasn't helped his cause any with a mostly forced 13-month layoff.
Both will want to make a statement but Arreola's will be more pronounced, with attrition leading to a mid-round stoppage.
Record: 7-3 [Last pick: Mayweather UD 12 Maidana]
Chris Arreola late-round stoppage Bermane Stiverne: I like Chris Arreola on Saturday. I think he wins by late stoppage as the result of constant pressure and high-volume combination punching.
Arreola gave Bermane Stiverne the room to box his ass off in the first fight. He won't do that on Saturday. Stiverne will still be a dangerous handful.
Arreola might have to get up from the canvas again to win but I know he's willing to do it and unlike last time, he enters this fight with focus, motivation and the conditioning one needs to beat a talented boxer-puncher like Stiverne and hold a major title.
Record: 4-2 [Last pick: Bradley MD 12 Pacquiao]
Bermane Stiverne UD 12 Chris Arreola: Unless the last time around with these two was an anomaly, it looks like Chris Arreola is once again destined for bridesmaid status as another contender steps past him to join the belted class.
To these eyes, Bermane Stiverne is too skilled and he'll make it two-for-two unless Arreola is successful in making it a street fight and hits him with something decisive.
Bermane Stiverne UD 12 Chris Arreola: Bermane Stiverne is confronted by several challenges, the biggest of which could be a hometown bias in favor of Chris Arreola. Arreola has that blue-collar appeal.
He's easy to like but likability doesn't make him any quicker. Neither does better conditioning. Reports indicate that Arreola has done the work at his San Diego training camp. He figures to be in as good condition as he was against Seth Mitchell.
But the one-round blowout of Mitchell is deceiving. Given what we now know, Mitchell would go down if a strong wind landed on his fragile chin. Stiverne's faster hands were the key to his unanimous decision over Arreola in April, 2013 and figure to be again.
Record: 9-4 [Last pick: Mayweather UD 12 Maidana]
Bermane Stiverne W 12 Chris Arreola: Yes I do believe that Chris Arreola will be in better shape for this rematch but I saw the first fight, and poor conditioning wasn't the only reason that it was a nightmare for him against Bermane Stiverne.
Arreola lost because Stiverne is a pretty good boxer with respectable power, enough to drop Arreola hard and shatter his nose. Anyone who can finish a fight in the condition Arreola's face was in isn't getting knocked out in a sanctioned prizefight.
But Stiverne wins again because he's just a better athlete with a brighter future in the heavyweight division. It will probably be a little closer on the cards this time but, unfortunately, Don King will again have promotional control of a fighter with the WBC heavyweight title wrapped around his waist.
Record: 9-4 [Last pick: Collazo KO 5 Khan]
Bermane Stiverne UD 12 Chris Arreola: Bermane Stiverne, as evidenced by his heavy knockdown of Chris Arreola in their first encounter, hits hard enough to keep “The Nightmare” more than honest. Arreola’s aggression simply dropped a gear due to the incoming and there is a lot for him to reverse in this rematch.
Can the L.A. native really make the necessary adjustments? I don’t think so and although I expect the fight to be closer, ultimately, it’s the same result. The world title opportunity could bring the best out in Arreola but I still think he falls short on the cards. Stiverne looks to be one very talented and durable technician.
Record: 10-2 [Last pick: Mayweather UD 12 Maidana]
Bermane Stiverne UD 12 Chris Arreola: Their rematch should be closer than their first fight because Chris Arreola boxed with a broken nose for nine-plus rounds on his way to a lopsided loss in that 12-rounder (118-109, 117-110, 117-110).
Arreola also claims he will be in much better shape for this fight (yes, again) and at 33, has to know that this could be his last shot at a heavyweight title.
But unless Bermane Stiverne has more difficulty absorbing Arreola’s power than he did a year ago in Ontario, Calif., he should be able to outbox his taller, heavier opponent again.
Record: 10-3 [Last pick: Mayweather UD 12 Maidana]
Chris Arreola W 12 over Bermane Stiverne: This should be a brutal fight. I suspect Bermane Stiverne will not be as sharp as he was the first time around and Chris Arreola will be better.
Arreola was doing fine in the first fight until he was tagged with that monstrous right hand right at the end of the third round that busted Arreola's nose and sent him to the canvas. After that, he was never the same and Stiverne took advantage.
Arreola will be in much better shape for this fight and two things are necessary for him to win. Stiverne is the better boxer, so Arreola must be more active, following his jab in and never letting Stiverne get comfortable.
Arreola must also not just follow Stiverne around the ring. When Chris spent the whole third round following Stiverne and not punching, Bermane was waiting for the opening, got it and pounced.
I see a close a fight, numerous heavy-handed exchanges and perhaps a visit to the canvas by each guy. Arreola's better conditioning and better gameplan will lead to a close decision win.
Record: 9-4 [Last pick: Mayweather KO 6 Maidana]
Bermane Stiverne W 12 Chris Arreola: Never trust what a boxer says before a fight, which is why I try to avoid all the ESPN pre-fight features of Chris Arreola and just watch the first fight.
What you see in that fight are missed opportunities and gapes of inactivity from Arreola but he also could not get past Bermane Stiverne's reach advantage that is maximized by straightness and quality timing.
I do think this fight will be closer since that third round knockdown and broken nose Arreola suffered were pivotal and something the Californian never recovered from.
Stiverne stays on the outside and allows Arreola to make mistakes, leaving himself open to leads and fast counters as he always has, picking and poking his way to a decision victory around eight-to-five in rounds.
The Canadian will win middle rounds after a fast start and furious finish from Arreola leaving many to question the decision as well.
Chris Arreola UD 12 Bermane Stiverne: A lot of things look different this time around, and it’s not just the training away from home and the dramatic weight drop. Chris Arreola seems trimmed, determined and ready to finally have his moment.
True, Bermane Stiverne defeated Arreola soundly in their first encounter one year ago to remain the only blemish in a terrific 8-1 streak by Arreola since his loss against Tomasz Adamek in 2010.
But the early nose injury was too much to overcome for anybody. This time around, Arreola won’t get caught as easily as the first time and he’ll finally manage to become the first Mexican-American heavyweight champ with a victory by unanimous decision.
Bermane Stiverne W 12 Chris Arreola: Just who the heck is Chris Arreola anyway? He never did realize what he actually has to do to be proficient at his craft. He is the epitome of 'Don't have to make weight at heavyweight.'
As for Bermane Stiverne, he too is a club fighter masquerading as a contender. But since he won before, his skills should prevail again. But I think he is too unsure of himself to go for a knockout unless Arrerola is totally uninterested.
Record: 7-1 [Last pick: Mayweather UD 12 Maidana]
Chris Arreola SD 12 Bermane Stiverne: I see this as a pick-'em fight. Chris Areola was favored in their first match but it was Bermane Stiverne who broke his nose and knocked him down.
Stiverne ended up winning a one-sided decision. The rematch could come down to who wants it more. Arreola is desperate. I think he wins the fight by split decision.
Record: 10-3 [Last pick: Mayweather W 12 Maidana]
Bermane Stiverne W 12 Chris Arreola: Chris Arreola looked great knocking out Seth Mitchell last year but that was an anomaly. Mitchell has one of the worst chins in the history of the sport. Bermane Stiverne would've done the same exact thing.
I don't like the fact that Stiverne has been off for so long but there was nothing that happened in their first fight to make me think Arreola can turn the tables in a rematch.
It may be a closer fight — Arreola should fight better breathing through two nostrils this time — but I don't think the result will be different.
Record: 8-4 [Last pick: Mayweather KO 6 Maidana]
Bermane Stiverne W 12 Chris Arreola: Bermane Stiverne could have some rust issues having been on the shelf waiting to see what happened with Vitali Klitschko. As a guy who can be economical, that could hurt.
Chris Arreola will be better this time. That said, Stiverne is still quicker and more explosive and Arreola has never gotten over the hump against serious contenders. The trend continues here.
Record: 8-5 [Last pick: Mayweather UD 12 Maidana]
Chris Arreola UD 12 Bermane Stiverne: I am looking for Chris Arreola to be very intense and hard-working on his way to a unanimous 12-round decision win over Bermane Stiverne.
Record: 7-2 [Last pick: Mayweather UD 12 Maidana]
Bermane Stiverne UD 12 Chris Arreola: I don't see this rematch playing out much different than the first fight. At this point, Bermane Stiverne is the much fresher fighter with a lot less wear and tear as Chris Arreola is well past his prime. Stiverne should be able to get off quicker all night and get a fairly competitive but clear decision win over a fading Arreola.
Record: 7-1 [Last pick: Mayweather TKO 10 Maidana]
Chris Arreola KO 9 Bermane Stiverne: Bermane Stiverne has never really fought an elite fighter except perhaps for Chris Arreola. And granted, he beat him once but I don't see it happening again.
Arreola knows a loss here would be devastating for his career, which he has taken much more seriously of late. He wants that title badly. Both fighters have knockout power.
But Stiverne has been inactive for the last year — not that Arreola has spent that much time in the ring with less than one round vs. Seth Mitchell — and could be a bit rusty. But it seems this is a different Arreola, a more serious Arreola and if so, he will take care of Bermane late.
Record: 7-0 [Last pick: Mayweather UD 12 Maidana]
Bermane Stiverne W 12 Chris Arreola: This is a tough call. You have Chris Arreola seeking revenge against Bermane Stiverne, who took the Mexican-American heavyweight to school and systematically broke him down round after round.
Chris has been rather indolent throughout his career, allowing himself to blow up in weight and exhibiting no empathy for the people who helped him get where he is today. Stiverne is the opposite. He has one goal and that's to become heavyweight champion of the World.
However, Chris is now a serious contender and looks as if he has found his true identity as a fighter. He's operating inside a gym like a boxer should be and he's managing his weight properly.
Is it enough to become the very first heavyweight champion of Mexican descent? I think Chris can win it but Stiverne may just have enough in his tank to eke out a close but competitive decision.
Record: 7-4 [Last pick: Mayweather UD 12 Maidana]
Chris Arreola UD 12 Bermane Stiverne: Chris "Nightmare" Arreola, despite a relatively weak heavyweight field, has consistently turned in exciting performances. He's like the Amir Khan of the heavyweight division, except for a glass jaw, he's had a glass-like attitude towards training. Transparent, fragile and ultimately shattered when the pressure was put on.
That was the old Arreola. The one we saw get worked by Tomasz Adamek back in 2010. The Arreola we saw destroy Seth Mitchell in round one back in September 2013 is the new Chris Arreola. It showed too. He didn't look woefully out of shape; his punches were crisp and he moved well across the ring. The Chris Arreola that faced Bermane "B. WARE" Stiverne in April 2013 was somewhere between the old and the new.
While Arreola appeared to be in control after first two rounds, it was Stiverne who came with the power, dropping Arreola and breaking his nose. From there, we saw just how serious Stiverne was when he practically whispered at the pre-fight press conference that he was there to "chop his [Arreola's] head off." Even though we've seen what "B. WARE" can do against the "Nightmare," he's still somewhat of a variable in his rising heavyweight field.
Victories over the likes of Willie Herring and Ray Austin do little to hint at a legitimate potential champion who's been out of the ring for over a year. At the end of the day, I have to believe that Chris Arreola has rededicated himself to taking a run at Wladimir Klitschko. Look for Arreola to come in shape, throw with enough volume to suppress Stiverne and secure a UD victory.
Record: 4-3 [Last pick: Khan UD 12 Collazo]
Bermane Stiverne W 12 Chris Arreola: Thirteen months removed from their first hook-up, Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola meet again. Stiverne hasn't fought while Arreola has had the one fight, a first-round drubbing of Seth Mitchell.
When they met in April of last year, Stiverne had his way, dropping Arreola and breaking his nose in the third round on the way to winning a wide decision.
I can't see Arreola turning things around, though, of course, anything can happen when heavyweights land. I see Stiverne out-boxing Arreola and winning a points decision, something like 116-112.
Record: 8-3 [Last pick: Mayweather W 12 Maidana]
By a margin of 13-to-8, the insiders favor Bermane Stiverne to repeat his victory over Chris Arreola, this time, for the WBC's heavyweight title.