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Stiverne vs. Wilder: Where the Heavyweights go, so goes boxing?

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Joseph Herron Updated
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"Where the Heavyweights go, so goes boxing," is an adage which describes a sport that has survived more scrutiny and controversy than Charlie Sheen, Kanye West and Lindsay Lohan combined. While most fight fans and critics would argue that the time honored saying is a bit outdated, the current excitement and expectation surrounding the WBC Heavyweight showdown, Stiverne vs Wilder, on January 17 could be interpreted as evidence which proves otherwise.

Many boxing experts have stated the winner of the highly anticipated bout between incumbent title holder Bermane Stiverne and undefeated challenger Deontay Wilder could be the shot in the arm that injects significance back in the consciousness of the mainstream American sports fan.


But in order for the much needed positive ripple effect to take place, the scheduled twelve round contest will have to deliver in terms of action and drama.

Hall of Fame promoter and matchmaker Don Chargin is one of those aforementioned authorities who believes there is much more than a world title riding on next Saturday night's Heavyweight Championship contest.

"Just having the Heavyweight fight on the seventeenth isn't enough," insists the six decade fight promoter. "The winner of this match has to make a big hit. If the victor puts on an impressive performance, then he'll be on his way to becoming a big star."


"If it's one of those lackluster bouts in which we see a lot of holding and stumbling to an uneventful twelve round decision, then we'll be right back where we started."

"But if the winner of this fight scores a sensational knock-out victory, the Heavyweights could move to the forefront of the sport once again."

Although boxing has proven its resiliency over the past twenty years with legitimate global attractions like Oscar De la Hoya, Manny Pacquiao, and Floyd Mayweather Jr. leading the proverbial fight for the American sports fan's entertainment dollar, boxing as a whole hasn't been recognized as a consistent mainstream commodity since the days of a prime Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield.

Despite boasting the sporting world's top earner, prizefighting has been labeled as a fringe pastime by most mainstream media outlets. Though the sentiment may or may not be the truth, the popular opinion has been passed around the American sports community like a collection basket at Sunday morning service.

With significant Heavyweight bouts already on the 2015 boxing schedule, many experienced minds believe the once heralded glamour division could provide a renaissance for the heavily scrutinized pastime.

But just like a convicted felon recently released on parole, the maligned sport's activity will be heavily monitored with careful examination to an almost unfair degree.

Although most die-hard supporters of boxing would argue that the amount of scrutiny the sport receives on a regular basis is more than a bit unjust, the negative perception has been recognized as a reality among skeptics and casual fans.

Don "War a Week" Chargin believes boxing's handlers are entirely to blame.

"We did it to ourselves," claims the Hall of Fame boxing legend. "Consistently putting on shows that the public didn't care to see, while expecting them to foot the bill on the PPV platform really damaged the sport's credibility in a very competitive American market."

And while most fight fans are looking to Mayweather/Pacquiao and Canelo/Cotto as the proverbial spark that launches a massive mainstream movement in 2015, Stiverne vs. Wilder on January 17 could prove to be an integral part of the magic elixir that begins to heal boxing's social wounds.

"People like to discount the cultural relevance of the Heavyweight division, but historically the big men have always served as boxing's primary ambassadors," claims the knowledgeable, six decade fight legend. "History tells us that nothing transcends excitement and enthusiasm more rapidly across a mainstream audience than a dramatic and action filled Heavyweight fight."

"The overwhelming perception of the sport can change with one great performance in the ring. I've seen it happen many times throughout boxing history."


But it's entirely up to the fighters.

If both Stiverne and Wilder want a great reception from the fans, the two punchers will have to put forth an effort that demands public attention. To merely compete on boxing's biggest platform isn't enough.

Yes, the risks these courageous men experience every time they step in the ring are great, but the rewards can be infinite if the fighters are willing to engage when all eyes are focused on their work.

Let's hope the action and drama of the Heavyweight main event on January 17 meets or exceeds our expectations.

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