Trevor Bryan moves a step closer to bigger fights!
Coming off a two-year layoff and expecting to face Manuel Charr (31-4, 17KO) for the WBA “regular” heavyweight title, interim champ Trevor Bryan (21-0, 15KO) at 31 years-old is trying to position himself for a major fight. Charr is not the best opponent, however, he held a version of the WBA title since defeating Alexander Ustinov in 2017. Charr vs Bryan was supposed to fight in March of 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic postponed the match-up.
This time, Charr would undergo issues obtaining a Visa to fight in the United States with the bout scheduled to take place in Hollywood, Florida. In the process, the WBA stripped him and allowed Bryan to fight for the vacant title.
In Charr’s place came a familiar name. Initially scheduled to face another Don King fighter Christopher Lovejoy on the undercard, Bermane “B-Ware” Stiverne (25-5-1, 21KO) got the call when his fight was also cancelled.
The former WBC champion also suffered a layoff, although, his may be more crucial. He hadn’t fought since February 2019 when he was stopped in six by top contender Joe Joyce. This would be the second of two consecutive loses. The first coming by brutal first round knockout in a rematch to former WBC champion Deontay Wilder in November 2017. In fact, Stiverne had not won a fight since 2015 when he took home a questionable decision against journeyman Derric Rossy.
How the WBA sanctioned this bout is beyond logic. Stiverne not being victorious in five years and not currently being ranked by the organization should have been plenty of reason for him not to get a shot at any title. In any case, the opportunity is just as alarming as King having the audacity to charge boxing fans $19.99 to watch this fight!
TO OLD TO DO ANYTHING EARLY
At 43 years-old and given his recent failures, Stiverne was food in this fight. Bryan is known for his ability to fight behind the jab and setting opponents up with counter shots but he is not a high quality fighter by any means. He starts fights with good upper body movement to elude incoming shots but his poor conditioning results in him being wide-open for big shots by the middle rounds.
In addition, he sports the “Adam Kownacki” look but to his credit is more of a smarter fighter than the aforementioned.
Stiverne was the best matchup for him at this time. The former champion is nowhere near the fighter he was when he captured the WBC title in a rematch with then top contender Chris Arreola in 2014. Actually, saying he is a shell of his former self is an understatement!
Early on, Bryan saw with ease that keeping a jab in the face of his aging opponent while setting up combinations to the body would be too tough a strategy to crack. Stiverne no longer looked like that patient counter-puncher of old who would bait his opponent into a big right-hand. Now he was coming forward, winging big shots in hopes of ending the fight early. This set him up to taking punishment that would eventually wear him down.
BAD CONDITIONING MAKES FIGHTS HARDER
Although Bryan controlled the fight by the middle rounds, the former champion would land several of those big shots mentioned earlier. The reason was the 31 year-old interim champion started to gas by the fourth round! In the process, he allocated all of his energy trying to stay busy behind the jab. It worked, however, when he missed or Stiverne decided to walk through a set of shots to get closer, he virtually had no way of defending himself. As a result, he took some big shots!
In round eight, Stiverne actually walked Bryan down the entire round. The interim champ looked as if he needed a second wind and stayed primarily on his back-foot while throwing lazy combinations with his hands down.
While this would be the biggest round for Stiverne, the good news for Bryan was the shots came one at a time. This because his opponent had bad conditioning as well. Furthermore, the bodywork from Bryan early on paid dividends.
The problem here is judges can be swayed to give a round to a fighter who is landing the harder shots over a fighter who is busy. Fortunately for Bryan, he has a good chin and Stiverne would end up having zero in the tank really soon.
TAKING THE OLD MAN OUT
Before the eleventh round, fans could see visible damage and exhaustion on the face of Stiverne. With his left eye closing and his mouth open, he stood up from his stool to start the round. Before he could do anything positive, he was hit with a big right hand along the ropes. This staggered him as he ricocheted off the ropes to the center of the ring before going down for the first time in the fight.
He would recover only to be put immediately back on the canvas by another big right hand. This time as he made the count, his legs were not fully under him. He also had blood streaming from his nose. Understanding a title was at stake, the referee allowed Stiverne to continue. Bryan moved in quickly and landed a barrage of unanswered shots before the referee finally stepped in.
A GOOD WIN BUT MUCH MORE TO LEARN
Now Bryan is able to trade in his interim title for the “regular” version of the WBA crown. This doesn’t really mean much but could put him in line to face bigger names in the organizational rankings as he will obligated to fight mandatory challengers now.
Depending on how he moves, picking fights based on the rankings can make or break him. Immediately sitting below him in order is former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, Deontay Wilder, Luis Ortiz and former unified champion Andy Ruiz! Further down the list is top contender and serious wildcard in the division Michael Hunter. All of these names would soundly defeat Bryan at this point in his career!
Since some of these fighters are going a different path, the WBA may not mandate any of them anytime soon. Therefore, the longer Bryan is given to pick lesser challenges to defend his title against, the better!
By: EJ Williams