When Hall Of Fame promoter Don King and Mauricio Sulaiman the President of the World Boxing Council are on the same podium then this must be something special. King has been dormant and hardly seen the past few years and that’s because this is a new generation in the sport of boxing.
But Don King is not done with the sport as this new wave of talent and promoters try and follow his success of producing a new face in the heavyweight division. And the astute boxing observer is aware that Don King holds the record for a promoter and owning a piece of the heavyweight championship.
Sulaiman, the successor to his late father is no stranger to Don King. There is a history of the Sulaiman regime, the WBC heavyweight title, and the promoter who made that green and gold belt significant.
And Don King, perhaps the most successful promoter in the business along with Bob Arum and Top Rank has not changed a bit.
“Deontay has never really met Bermane Stiverne, so I’m going to introduce them,” said King Thursday afternoon at the Edison Ballroom in Manhattan. King has one major fighter and that is Stiverne who will try and take the WBC heavyweight title from Deontay Wilder Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn that will be televised on Showtime Championship Boxing.
This will be a rematch after their January 2015 bout that saw Wilder take the title in a unanimous decision from Stiverne.
The players on this roster are a little different, with exception of the younger head of the WBC. King is not the main promoter of the Premiere Boxing Champions event in conjunction with DiBella Entertainment and Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment.
“It’s going to be a fantastic night of boxing at Barclays Center,” said King. “You will have a tremendous upset on Saturday night when Bermane Stiverne knocks out Deontay Wilder.”
That was vintage Don King who knows something about making a prediction when it comes to the heavyweight title. That comment also caught the ears of Wilder because last week the champion said if he does not defeat the mandatory challenger, well it will be his last fight.
True to form, every fighter will make a declaration before a big fight and Wilder may be true to his word if he goes down to defeat. He has been vocal about being the one to unify the heavyweight titles and in boxing that has become a mission of futility.
And this heavyweight title fight is as big as it gets, even though it is not being contested across the river at Madison Square Garden where epic heavyweight fights were promoted by Don King and under the WBC jurisdiction.
Wilder and Stiverne have that mutual disrespect to each other, that is known from their first fight and the champion saying his challenger has avoided him the past two years. Don King, even if his fighter loses may not get a piece of the heavyweight champion again because times have changed with the new players in town.
But King has that respect for Wilder as both have Alabama roots. In another time perhaps Wilder and King would be a perfect marriage, but the landscape in boxing has changed and Don King is now sitting on the outside.
However, this does not diminish a fact about the significance of this WBC heavyweight title. From Sonny Liston to Wilder, the Mexican based organization has recognized 23 heavyweight champions in which five have regained the belt. And when Don King first got his taste with promoting the late and legendary Muhammad Ali, the WBC title was always the standard in boxing before all of the alphabet soup organizations.
Saturday night in Brooklyn this will the the 140th time the WBC heavyweight title is up for grabs. DiBella, who has kept boxing thriving in New York said “This is a real heavyweight fight. A serious heavyweight championship of the world is at risk.”
And Stiverne is the only opponent that Wilder has not been able to knock out. So this is a WBC heavyweight title fight that does have those implications, and more so because Wilder made that retirement statement.
Sounds so familiar to Ali, Joe Frazier, Larry Holmes, George Foreman, Ken Norton, Lennox Lewis and yes let’s not forget Mike Tyson. Don King had an interest in all of those legendary names of the division and here he is again.
Sulaiman said, “Justice prevails in the ring and Saturday night we are going to prove who is at that level.” And with the WBC heavyweight title on the line it sure does bring back memories with Don King in the picture.
Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected] Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso