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The impending World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight championship fight to determine the successor of recently retired Vitali Klitschko, matching the WBC's top two contenders, respectively, WBC Silver champion Bermane "B. Ware" Stiverne (23-1, 20 KOs) against Chris "The Nightmare" Arreola (36-3, 31 KOs), is extra special for Stiverne's veteran head trainer, Don House.
"First," he explained, "I've been with Bermane since the first day and that's really why this is so special for me. It's also special for me because I've been part of teams for world champions - Diego Corrales, Kevin Kelly, Joan Guzman, Frankie Liles and others - but I've never been the head trainer of the world heavyweight champion or a WBC world champion.
"Bermane has grown a lot since the beginning (pro debut July 29, 2005). He was young and a little immature back them. The first time I saw him hitting the heavy-bag I said I could make him a champ and give him the discipline he needed. He liked to say he was a boxer but the last couple of years he has believed he'd be world champion. There's been no stopping him since the Arreola fight."
Last April in his second successful WBC heavyweight title eliminator, Stiverne successfully defended his WBC Silver belt, winning an impressive 12-round unanimous decision (118-109, 117-110, 117-10) over Arreola, breaking his opponent's nose and dropping him in the third round despite a serious right shoulder injury that was aggravated during their fight.
The strong bond between House and Stiverne, who seeks to become the first Haitian World Heavyweight Champion, goes beyond a trainer-fighter relationship. "House is like a big brother to me," Stiverne said from training camp in Las Vegas where they both live. "The relationship isn't on a business level, it's more like family. In my amateur days, I was more of a brawler, but House taught me how to box and be smart in the ring. I knew how to fight and go toe-to-toe back in the day but he taught me to relax in the ring, be calm, and use skills I never knew I had. With him and my conditioning coach, Victor Vargotski, I have the best team I could ever have."
"Don House has been with Bermane from day one," Stiverne's manager Camille Estephan commented. "He is one helluva coach and an excellent person. He and Victor Vargotski have been by Bermane every step of the way. Together, we truly form a family. The bond is very strong and I believe this makes a difference in the sense that there is true trust established, which gives Bermane peace of mind and faith in what he is working on in the gym. This is truly priceless."
Three scheduled purse bids for mandatory challenger Stiverne to challenge Klitschko were postponed, however, nothing can deter Stiverne and the WBC eventually mandated his world title fight versus Arreola for the vacant belt. They may not know exactly where or when, yet, but Stiverne and House are preparing as if this is not a rematch with Arreola.
"I've evaluated this fight and we have been going at this like Bermane hasn't fought Arreola before, as if everything is brand new," House noted. "Can Arreola bring anything into this fight differently? No. He may come to fight in the best shape of his life but he doesn't have the skills to beat Bermane. He doesn't have the power or speed that Bermane does. Arreola will be right there, Bermane won't have to look for him, and he will be ready to fight 12 rounds.
"I never hear anything about injuries or illness from Bermane until after the fight in the locker-room. He keeps that stuff to himself and I didn't know how badly he hurt his shoulder during training camp. And he hurt himself during the fight, too. This fight he is going to finish things. He fought sick in the Ray Austin fight (101 temperature in Stiverne's first WBC eliminator win). It just shows how much heart and balls he has; no excuses, ever, from Bermane."
The 34-year-old Stiverne, noted, "My injured right shoulder was the reason I had to go with plan B and why I didn't throw a lot of right hands. I dropped him with the only right I threw with power that landed. I came out to finish him the next (fourth) round but slipped and pulled a muscle in my back. I wouldn't let that bother me, though, despite how painful it was. I kept going and followed the plan to get a W and was rushed to the hospital right after the fight. I learned that, whatever the issue, I still fight like a warrior and that's the real meaning of no pain, no gain."
The WBC ordered the promoters of the two fighters - Don King Productions (Stiverne) and Goossen-Tutor Promotions (Arreola) - to negotiate but the fight is slated to go to a WBC purse bid in Mexico on Monday, Jan. 24 unless an agreement is reached prior to the already extended deadline.
"The world heavyweight title means you're the baddest man on the planet," House concluded, "unlike a Tiger Woods, 'Magic' Johnson or even Floyd Mayweather. This title brings a different twist to sports."
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