Trevor Bryan talks about how there are two fights in his sport.
The 31-year-old pro boxer from Albany was in the ring on Friday and scored a technical knockout over 42-year-old Bermane Stiverne in the 11th round at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
With the TKO came a championship belt, in this case signifying the WBA “World” champion, a distinction that has been joined by several other title designations within the weight class because of fighter inactivity and WBA rulings.
The other fight is the one that his managers and promoters engage in just lining up bouts. To say that it’s uncertain when Bryan, who was ending a 29-month layoff on Friday despite an earnest desire to be in the ring, will fight again and against whom would be a gross understatement.
For now, it’s enough for him to bask in the glow of a successful return to the ring while pushing his pro record to 21-0, a career that started at the same venue in 2011. Bryan, who has been trained as an amateur by Vince Kittle of the Schenectady Youth Boxing Club, stopped the stubborn Stiverne, a former WBC belt holder, on two knockdowns in the 11th round.
“I guess I was getting off some ring rust,” Bryan said by phone from his home in Florida. “Still, I worked behind my jab; did a lot of different moves, but sticking with the fundamentals and what works best for me, which is my jab. I establish everything off of that.
“But it’s been two years, I finally got back in the ring and it felt great. Just like riding a bike that you haven’t rode in a long time. And that’s how the fight went. I fought a tough opponent, a tough ex-champion and a hard-hitting ex-champion, as well. He sure definitely was game and came to fight.”
Stiverne wasn’t Bryan’s original opponent on the short pay-per-view card promoted by Don King.
The 89-year-old King won a purse bid in March of last year, and Bryan was supposed to have fought Manuel Charr two months later, but the COVID-19 pandemic canceled that. Charr, Bryan’s would-be foe last Friday, also, had held the WBA “World” title since defeating Alexander Ustinov back on in November 2017, but hadn’t fought since then, so the WBA vacated the “World” belt, according to a story by Jake Donovan of boxingscene.com.
Bryan, who is under contract with King, was already considered the “interim” WBA champion based on “champion-in-recess” Charr’s inactivity, and King arranged for another of his heavyweights, Stiverne, to step in and fight Bryan.
If it makes for a confusing lead-up, Bryan, hungry for any kind of live action, said he didn’t care who the opponent was and was going to stick to his strengths and not worry about a change in scouting report.
“No matter what, when an opponent changes, we still have a game plan that we try to stick to and accomplish out there,” he said. “I can’t really focus too much on what the other opponent is doing, because that’ll throw me off my game plan. I just know we had a plan and executed it.
“I know an ex-champion is going to bring his own physical parts to it, but I think I stayed composed and I think people see that I am a true champion.
“Do what comes natural. You’re naturally strong with both hands. Use your jab and work everything off your jab. The announcers were comparing me to my idol, Larry Holmes. Just to watch that over and over and hear them comparing me to him and my jab was working like that, it was the greatest feeling to ever feel.”
Bryan is co-managed by Messiah Eaddy and trainer Stacey McKinley, who has worked with Mike Tyson.
They’ve told him not to let up in his training, as the fight outside the fight to line up the next bout promises to be complicated, as always.
Bryan has visions of eventually seeing Tyson Fury and/or Anthony Joshua, the current WBA “Super” champion, a remote possibility, at best. They appear to be in their own category within the heavyweight division. Charr is still out there, if he ever gets in the ring again.
“The two top guys that are out there, they’re the ones I want to fight, because it’s been long enough, Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua,” Bryan said.
“You have to mention my name when you mention anything about heavyweight boxing, heavyweight champions. I know I come from Albany, New York, and it’s a small town in upstate New York, but you have to mention this guy, because I’m making a big stomp and a big step in the heavyweight division. I just want to give a shoutout to all the young fighters that are coming up in Albany, all the young pros and all the amateurs that are coming up in the ranks. Tell them to stay strong and keep doing it.”