Canadian banger Adonis Stevenson makes his Showtime TV debut this weekend, taking on Polish contender Andrzej Fonfara in the third defence of his WBC light heavyweight crown.
Originally scheduled as a HBO bout on the undercard of Sergey Kovalev, Stevenson proceeded to agree terms with influential boxing adviser Al Haymon before making the inevitable switch to Showtime. As a result of bad relations between the two television companies, a mouth-watering showdown between the light heavyweight rulers is no longer possible.
That Stevenson has got himself to a position of bargaining is remarkable, given his chances as a top-level fighter seemed washed-up. Four years ago last month, journeyman Darnell Boone knocked the Canadian clean out in the second round, but his career has blossomed rather than nosedived since that shock defeat.
Ten straight stoppages later, including a stunning first round knockout of ex-champion Chad Dawson, he finds himself ruling the WBC division and headlining a card in Quebec once again. Like a fine wine, the 36-year-old is maturing with age and appears to be more powerful than ever.
No matter his future performances or opponents, his reign will always be tainted by the one that got away.
A glut of legal battles lies in the wreckage of where a potential Stevenson-Kovalev showdown once lay. In truth, the WBC champion never seemed as keen to rumble as Kovalev. When the two shared a ring in November 2013 – Kovalev crushed Ismayl Sillakh, with Stevenson similarly despatching Tony Bellew – only the Russian invited talk of a mega fight. The 36-year-old, it’s fair to say, wanted no part of his feared foe.
It now appears obvious why Stevenson barely mentioned his touted opponent, running as quickly as possible over to Showtime at the first opportunity.
In all the fanfare surrounding the now-defunct chances of a superfight, Fonfara has slipped quietly under the radar. 11 of his last 12 opponents have been sent packing early by the Pole, who has registered credible victories over an aged Glen Johnson and Gabriel Campillo, though Stevenson is represents a large step-up in quality.
Fonfara can use his superior reach advantage against the shorter man, but the champion is much quicker and has devastating power in both hands. It remains to see whether Fonfara’s power will be as effective against better opposition, but question marks have remained over Stevenson’s chin after that Boone loss.
Smart money must lie with the more experienced champion inside the first five rounds, but Fonfara has the ability to punish his opponent if any complacency creeps in.
Stevenson must win, and win well, to vindicate his decision to forgo the ‘Krusher’ fight. Even then, he has a long way to go before boxing fans forgive him for depriving them of the one they all wanted to see.
On the undercard, limited but powerful middleweight David Lemieux takes on Fernando Guerrero for the vacant NABF middleweight crown. Having been found out by Marco Antonio Rubio at world level back in 2011, the Canadian knocked his last opponent down seven times en route to a stoppage victory and could ruffle a few feathers at 160lbs.
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