Heavyweight titleholder Bermane Stiverne said he is recovering from a pinched nerve in his right hand that will delay his mandatory title defense against Deontay Wilder until later this year, WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman told RingTV.com on Thursday.
“Stiverne has a hand injury which he has documented with the WBC and he will be ready to fight in November. But we will initiate the free negotiations period in the beginning or in mid-August,” said Sulaiman, adding that he was made aware of the situation last month by Stiverne and his promoter, Don King.
“That’s going to give them one month of free negotiations and the fight has to take place 90 days from that. Wilder might take a tune-up fight with the condition that he might fight in November. We have not heard from Wilder as to whether or not he will take a tune-up fight or not. So I believe that the fight will take place in November or December at the latest.”
Stiverne (24-1-1, 21 knockouts) said the injury was sustained during his last fight in May, when his sixth round technical knockout over Chris Arreola earned the belt that was vacated when Vitali Klitschko retired to pursue a political career in Ukraine.
“It’s my right hand. I hurt my hand in the last fight with Arreola. One of my nerves was pinched,” said Stiverne, whose previous victory was a unanimous decision over Arreola in April 2013.
“When I went to get it X-rayed, the doctors told me that I shouldn’t hit anything with my hand, so I still train but I just don’t hit the bags. I should be good by the end of the year.”
In the meantime, Wilder (31-0, 31 KOs), who is promoted by Golden Boy and advised by Al Haymon, has been taking shots at Stiverne for what he perceives as cowardice.
“I heard that he says that he has a hand injury…but I just think that he hasn’t been training and that he needs to get into shape and that that’s the excuse that he’s coming up with. I just think that he’s like one of those little kids in school who never really got attention,” said Wilder, who saw the “same old” Stiverne against Arreola from his ringside seat at USC’s Galen Center in Los Angeles.
“But now, he’s getting the most publicity that he’s ever gotten in his life. So he’s trying to hold on to the title for as long as he can and I don’t blame him. He’s got some popularity and he’s loving that. He don’t want to let it go because he knows that he has got a dangerous competitor in front of him for his first title defense, and that it could all be over for him.”
Stiverne scoffs at Wilder’s remarks.
“What is there to say? He likes to entertain his fans and the people who follow him and I’m not into that. A little kid like he is, they’re just going to be a little kid. He keeps on making videos about calling me out,” said Stiverne.
“But he knows how that works. It’s between my promoter and his promoter and we’ll let them make the fight happen. So let the kid be the kid and when the fight happens, I’ll be able to teach him a lesson and I will discipline the kid.”
Wilder said he is considering a return to the ring prior to facing Stiverne.
“Because of him not wanting to fight, I see that this can be a long process,” said Wilder, “so I am definitely looking at maybe getting back into the ring before November or December. I may want a little warm-up or something that would keep me active, really.”
Wilder’s manager, Jay Deas, concurred.
“We’re looking at the possibility and seeing if there are some things to do to get into the ring one more time but the deadline for something like that would have to be around mid-September or this side of mid-September. We wouldn’t want to go beyond that because then, you really are getting to the point where you could bang a thumb or something like that which could conceivably jeopardize a title fight with your own hand injury,” said Deas.
“Everything that you do in this business is a risk anyway, so it doesn’t concern me as far as should we just wait for the guaranteed shot or should we take on another fight in the interim. It would have to be something that comes together pretty quickly and there are discussions that we’re kicking around. But Deontay’s been in the gym, so if we had to take a fight next week, we would be on board. But I like that idea because Deontay’s so much better when he’s busy.”