RING number nine-rated heavyweight Deontay Wilder weighed in on the upcoming fights between division counterparts Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola and Bryant Jennings and Mike Perez, on tap for Saturday and May 24, respectively.
In a rematch of his unanimous decision win in April of last year, Stiverne (23-1-1, 20 KOs) faces Arreola (36-3, 31 knockouts) at the Galen Center on the USC campus in Los Angeles for the vacant WBC title.
The winner between Stiverne and Arreola, who suffered a broken nose from a third-round knockdown during their initial bout, must make his first defense against Wilder (31-0, 31 KOs), who is coming off a 96-second stoppage of Malik Scott in March.
The victor between Wilder and the Stiverne-Arreola winner must next face that between Perez (20-0-1, 12 KOs) and Jennings (18-0, 10 KOs), according to WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman.
Jennings scored a 10th-round stoppage of southpaw Artur Szpilka in his last fight in January, one day after Perez battled once-beaten Carlos Takam to a draw.
Deontay Wilder's picks:
Chris Arreola W 12 Bermane Stiverne: Tomorrow? Who wins tomorrow? That's a big question. When that question was first brougnt to me, I had a response that was, "If I closed my eyes and then opened them up, then the man that I see with his hands raised in victory would be Chris Arreola.
I felt like if the fight went to a decision, that the hands raised and the new world champion would be Chris Arreola. Now, going into that press conference on Thursday — and that was such an epic press conference — I was still thinking Arreola. But there was so much passion and it was so heated up, that I'm not even fighting and I was amped up and ready to fight.
Now, I know what this title belt means and they really want this belt. That's what showed during the press conference. I saw the animosity that they had toward each other and that they really want it. So now, I'm sort of on the fence. But if I had to pick, I would still go with Chris, so I'm going to still go with Chris.
But that put me sort of on edge. We'll have to see. It's still going to be a great fight, especially if they bring that same adrenaline back into the ring on Saturday. But you never know because sometimes, after you've had a day to calm down after having been in the moment around all of the media and the cameras.
So, now, if they still have that energy when it comes time to get into the ring, that's going to make it an amazing fight and then, ESPN will have gotten into something really big as far as a great fight. We'll see what's going to happen. The best man is going to win, of course, but I can't wait. I can't wait to see who my opponent is going to be in my fight for the world title but I think it's going to be Arreola.
Mike Perez KO 6 Bryant Jennings: Now, we move to Bryant Jennings and Mike Perez. I'm not as excited about this fight as I am for Stiverne-Arreola due to the simple fact that I get the winner between Arreola and Jennings for the world title, so, to me, there is nothing more exciting than that. There's nothing more exciting than fighting for a world title.
But with that being said, Jennings and Perez is an interesting fight because you've got Jennings facing a southpaw for the second straight fight after beating [Artur] Szpilka. I'm happy with this matchup, because this is something that definitely has my attention, so I'm really looking forward to it.
But I feel like the winner of this fight is definitely going to be Mike Perez. The reason why I say that is that I've been in camp with Mike before and I helped him out for his fight with Friday Ahunanya over in Ireland and I got to know him and stuff like that. He's a great guy and a guy that has more amateur experience than any guy that Jennings has previously fought.
Mike has had more than 300 amateur fights, so he knows that when he's going into the ring, he's not scared to sit there and to brawl with you or to get in there and be tough with you. He's like me, meaning that he's like, "If you think you're tough, I'm going to show you that I'm tougher." He's a guy that puts the will over the skill and the heart over the fear.
Mike is going to come and he's going to fight and he's got a lot of experience — probably more than any southpaw that Jennings has faced. I think that we saw a glimpse of this when we saw Jennings fight Szpilka and he even stated that it was a difficult fight for him fighting a southpaw. I think that Jennings looked okay against Szpilka but Mike Perez is a totally different guy.
Mike's very good at what he does and I see Mike as being the aggressor in this fight. I think that he'll bring the pressure and that he'll come and throw the punches and he's not scared to get hit. We're going to see what happens. Jennings got some tactics and I think that he's coming to win but this is one of the biggest fights that he's had in his career.
This fight definitely has the price tag on it as far as being an eliminator, so whoever wins this jumps in line and has a crack too to fight for the title and I think that will be against me, of course. Plus Perez has an excellent trainer by the name of Adam Booth and if you don't know Adam Booth, that's David Haye's trainer.
Adam is a tremendous guy and a great friend of mine out of the United Kingdom. Adam definitely takes time to break it down and to teach discipline and he commands so much respect from his fighters. I think that by the time the fight rolls around, they will bring that all together. So I think that Perez knocks him out in the sixth round.
Photo by Tom Casino