Last night’s HBO
doubleheader (tripleheader, if you consider the inclusion of last week’s
rebroadcast of Manny Pacquiao’s resurgent win over Brandon Rios) was the
perfect primer for new boxing fans (trust me on this one, kids. I shared
tonight’s broadcast with the King and Queen Coyotes, my parents) in a very
interesting light heavyweight feature from Colisee de Quebec, Quebec City,
By “interesting,” Your
Intrepid Editor means you got the right mixture of brutal power and analytical
deconstruction in Sergey Kovalev, 23-0-1 (21), and Adonis Stevenson, 23-1 (20),
respectively. Now that I think about it, it wasn’t just the perfect primer for
new fight fans for its range of method and results; it was the perfect primer
for a seriously badass 175-pound showdown for all the golden marbles.
In the HBO opener, Kovalev
faced off against Ismayl Sillakh, 21-2 (17), a hard-hitting Ukrainian whose
only loss was a disheartening loss to Denis Grachev well over a year ago.
The undefeated Kovalev
entered the evening’s co-feature on the steam of three previous wins in 2013,
which included two victories over two former light heavyweight titlists,
Gabriel Campillo and Nathan Cleverly, the latter from whom he annexed his WBO
belt. The ultimate goal? To close out the calendar year with a solid statement
regarding his place in the light heavyweight landscape. And it was done in
In this writer’s assessment,
Sillakh, no one’s red shirt (in the parlance of “Star Trek,” if you will) by
any means, would be a perfect accoutrement to a respected titleholder’s dress
blues. Not easily earned, procured via astute expertise and execution.
The opening round was not
unlike any other important title bout’s. Kovalev contemplated and measured
Sillakh before Sillakh fired off a sharp one-two. Kovalev responded with a
straight right hand and continued a methodical aggression in spots. Kovalev
missed a left/right combination of his own, all the while chatting with his
opponent. “Krusher” would jab to the body as a precursor to attempting to
briefly attack Sillakh’s midsection. This all merely culminates in a glorified
The second stanza opens with
Kovalev backing up Sillakh with an unsuccessful, swinging left hand. This minor
miscalculation was immediately remedied with a big right hand that dropped
Sillakh. Sillakh rises albeit with a speck of uncertainly (but with more than
enough bravery to spare), beating referee Marlon Wright’s count. Sillakh willingly
re-entered the fray, only to meet an authoritative, three-punch salvo, which stopped
him cold 52 seconds into round two.
In the evening’s main event,
frontrunner for “Fighter of the Year” honors and lineal light heavyweight
champion (or, much to HBO’s dismay, The
Ring magazine champion – and that’s got to kill HBO analyst Max Kellerman a wee bit softly, n’est-ce pas?) faced off
against Tony Bellew, 20-2-1 (12), a nuts-and-guts Brit (and WBC “silver” light
heavyweight titlist) who didn’t know the meaning of “stoppage loss.”
Round one opened with a very
measured dance between Bellew and Stevenson, with the latter eyeing his quarry
with a stoic gaze. Adonis throws a swinging right with no consequence, leading
into a noncommittal tête-à-tête. Stevenson
cuts off the ring with authority but said authority serves territorialism at the
most. Stevenson throws one shot at a time, unwittingly convincing “Bomber” to
come at him more than anything. Before round’s end, Bellew connects with a
halfhearted right hand.
“Superman” opens the second heat
by cutting off the ring, backing up Bellew in the process (this becomes
Stevenson’s subsequent modus operandi from then on). Bellew attempts aggression
in spots, making the more analytical observer perhaps wish the former
Commonwealth champion would confidently continue with impunity. However,
Stevenson continued to control the proceedings by cutting the ring off (something
his trainer, Javon “Sugar” Hill would continually insist on amid his
instructions) and pursuing his quarry. Stevenson would further attempt to land
that long left hand, only to result in an unresolved chase. Bellew would try to
return the favor with an unexpected-yet-brief offensive, missing a left hand,
but ate a Stevenson left upstairs before round’s end.
In round three, Stevenson
continued to attempt to walk Bellew down by mere control of the geography,
landing to the body. Stevenson keeps up the right jab and blocks a Bellew
right. Bellew’s reticence to engage results in absorbing a left, followed by a
one-two upstairs. Stevenson corners “Bomber” and lands half the shots he hands
out. A straight left hand rocks Bellew on the ropes before punctuating the
round with another solid left hand shot.
Bellew lands a right hand
after the start of the fourth but Stevenson lands a left hand in kind en route
to his perennial backing up of his opponent. Stevenson watches Bellew like a
hawk before landing a one-two to the body but subsequently hits the canvas in
result of the standard “southpaw/orthodox lead foot syndrome.” Bellew takes
advantage of Stevenson’s minor slip-up with bracketed-yet-limited aggression but
a one-two from Stevenson solidly finds its destination. Stevenson lands another
left hand that wobbles Bellew on the backfoot as they both venture toward a
corner. Prior to round’s end, Stevenson lands an absolute accidental right hand
to the back of Bellew’s dome as the latter twisted to his own left by the time
the punch landed.
The fifth round was as bland
as bread with no compound butter as Stevenson worked on backing up Bellew
(again), mixing it up off the ropes.
In round six, Stevenson
pursued Bellew with no consequence whatsoever as the Brit countered with equal
effect. Adonis pawed away, at long last connecting with a wide-swinging
uppercut with no follow-up. That said, the tide turned egregiously as Stevenson
connected with the most bitchen of left hands, dropping Bellew. As the brave
Brit regained his footing, the Haitian-born Canadian hammered him with a four-shot
salvo that including two crippling lefts, separating Bellew from his senses. At
that point, referee Michael Griffin rendered the perfect call, stopping the
carnage at 1:50 of the round.
Obviously, considering the promotional
circumstances, it had to be asked of Adonis Stevenson by HBO’s Max Kellerman
what the lineal light heavyweight champion’s next move would be.
The frontrunner for the “Fighter
of the Year” distinction answered (rather disappointingly) in no uncertain
terms that his next mission might more reasonably (to him) involve WBA/IBF
super middleweight titleholder Carl Froch or 48-year-old IBF light heavyweight
titlist Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins.
Hopkins? Seriously? This
harkens to my recent assessment of misdirection in boxing (I can haz “cheap
whore” status. Sue me. http://www.maxboxing.com/news/max-boxing-news/thanks).
What you can’t control (read: the promotional/network “Cold War”) is a whole
ton of easy to bandy about.
As for Froch…this isn’t to
say it isn’t a good fight but for the love of Huey, last night’s gig was all
about the set-up. And the set-up is of epic proportions.
And if Adonis Stevenson
doesn’t want to live up to his Kryptonian moniker by unifying the light
heavyweight division against Sergey Kovalev, then he’d better offer up that
honorific to a light heavyweight who will.
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