Heavyweight Deontay Wilder said that he saw the "same old" Bermane Stiverne from his ringside seat at USC's Galen Center in Los Angeles as Stiverne scored two final round knockdowns on the way to Saturday's sixth-round technical knockout over Chris Arreola for the WBC's belt that was vacated by Vitali Klitschko.
The 35-year-old Stiverne (24-1-1, 21 knockouts) had not been in the ring since last April, when the 33-year-old Arreola (36-4, 31 KOs) suffered a broken nose and was dropped in the third round of a unanimous-decision loss.
Wilder (31-0, 31 KOs) is coming off a 96-second knockout of Malik Scott in an WBC eliminator bout in March, a victory which made him the mandatory challenger to face Stiverne, who is 12-0-1 with nine stoppages since being knocked out in the fourth round by Demetrice King in July 2007. With the victory over Arreola, Stiverne became the first heavyweight champion of Haitian descent.
"It was same old Stiverne. It was the same one that I saw in the first fight. I felt like he wanted it more than Chris in the ring. That's about the only thing that he brought is that he wanted it more. Other than that, it was the same old fighter," said Wilder, a 28-year-old Olympic bronze medalist who stands 6-foot-7.
"It's going to be an easy fight for me. Not just 'E A S Y,' I'm talking about 'E Z.' It's not going the distance. We've already got animosity against each other and he's said a lot of things about me, and that if he got into the ring with me that he would knock me out. He said it with passion in his voice, and I heard him. But this fight will not go the distance. I can promise you that."
Wilder said he had words with Stiverne in Las Vegas during the week of Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s majority decision victory over Marcos Maidana at the MGM Grand on May 3.
"I walked up on him at the MGM Grand because of comments he made about me. I'm the type of person who, if I do an interview with you, there is nothing that I won't say then that I wouldn't say if you were in front of me. Nothing. But he did an interview about me and he was very passionate about it. He had so much anger in his voice when my name was mentioned and it was so intense that I was ready to fight, too. Stiverne really has a lot of animosity against me and against my name and what I have done," said Wilder.
"So I walked up on him at the MGM, and said, 'Let me hear it from the horse's mouth.' I think that he was very intimidated, because people don't see me in that state of mind. I don't let people see me like that. But I just wanted to let him know that, 'If you win, then this is what you got.' The thing about it was there were a crowd of people walking around, but the thing about it was Bermane Stiverne is still unknown and people don't know who he is. People just thought that I was arguing with a regular guy. People knew who I was, but they were like, 'Don't let these fans get to you,' because people thought that he was a disgruntled fan.
"We met up in a restaurant. I was walking out, he was coming in, and he would not make eye contact with me. Not again. I just wanted to get the message across that he had grabbed my attention and that if he won, that we would be able to settle it in the ring like men. I was just telling him, 'May 10, you're gonna win, right?'" said Wilder.
"Because when you win, I'm gonna whip your ass. I said that 'You have been trying to run from me, and you're still trying to run from me. But I'm the mandatory and you can't run. He was like, 'Ask Al Haymon. Ask Al Haymon, you're not the mandatory.' I was telling him, 'I am the mandatory, and if you win, I'm gonna whip your ass, I promise you.
Wilder said that he did not attempt to engage Stiverne in the aftermath of his triumph over Arreola.
"I'm a gentleman. This is his time. It's his time to shine," said Wilder, who worked as the primary sparring partner for RING/IBF/WBA/WBO champion Wladimir Klitschko in advance of his unanimous decision victory over Mariusz Wach in November 2012.
"It wasn't my place to jump on this man while he's enjoying his moment. I saw him many times during the week. I wanted him to focus on this fight, and he did, and it was a great fight. I'm very happy for him. I'm super happy for him. But I'm all about making history. He's become the first Hatian champion, and I'm happy for him."
No U.S.-born fighter has held a heavyweight title since 2007, when Shannon Briggs briefly wore the WBO’s belt.
"[Stiverne's belt is] going come to the truthful, rightful owner, who is Deontay Wilder," said Wilder, of Tuscaloosa, Ala. "I'm just going to let Stiverne celebrate for a little bit before there's a time when he's going to have to give it up. My time is coming."