There will be a new opponent for WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (38-0, 37 KOs) following the VADA drug test failure of original opponent Luis Ortiz (27-0-2 NCs, 23 KOs).
It was announced on Thursday that Wilder will rematch Bermane Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 KOs), who was actually Wilder’s mandatory challenger but had originally agreed to step aside in order to let Wilder-Ortiz happen. Stiverne was slated to fight Dominic Breazeale (18-1, 16 KOs) on the undercard, with the winner taking on the Wilder-Ortiz victor.
Ortiz recently tested positive for hydrochlorothiazide, a banned substance used to treat high blood pressure but can also be considered a masking agent for PED use. According to an ESPN article, “Ortiz failed to disclose that he was taking the medication on his VADA paperwork, where it asks specifically for a list of substances being taken. Ortiz also did not ask VADA for a therapeutic use exemption.”
The WBC wrote in its ruling that "it has grave concerns about Mr. Ortiz's ability to participate safely in a high-level competition [on Nov. 4] in light of his admitted chronic high-blood pressure condition and acute high-blood pressure episode." This comes after the Cuban told the sanctioning body that he had "at least one episode of acute high-blood pressure that required a visit to a hospital's emergency room."
With Ortiz out of the picture for now, attention turns to the 38-year-old Stiverne, who is the only man to go the distance with Wilder in his entire professional career. Stiverne was then the WBC titleholder, but lost a very one-sided decision back in January 2015. His only fight since then was a decision win over Derric Rossy, who dropped Stiverne in the opening round. In fairness, he was supposed to fight Alexander Povetkin late last year, but Povetkin failed a drug test and Stiverne’s team opted not to take the matchup. Unbelievably, Stiverne had previously failed his own drug test but the fight was allowed to go on as scheduled, as the WBC ruled favorably that Bermane had unknowingly ingested a banned substance.
A Stiverne rematch is extremely underwhelming, so much so that Showtime didn’t even want this fight in the first place, but in order to keep the card intact, they’ve opted to broadcast it anyway. There’s very little reason to believe Stiverne can be any more competitive against Wilder the second time around.
Showtime Boxing: Wilder vs. Stiverne airs live on November 4th from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.