It has become somewhat of a rarity to see WBC Light Heavyweight kingpin, Adonis Stevenson grace a boxing ring, and even rarer for the Canadian – by way of Haiti – to be in a fight that sets the pulses racing prior to the first bell.
Since wrecking Chad Dawson in a round, and pummelling both Tavoris Cloud and Tony Bellew into stoppage losses back in a breakout 2013, Stevenson 29-1(24KO’s) has fought 6 times since, and in spite of highlight knockouts, there has been little to shout about.
A clash with Sergey Kovalev never materialised, and now the long-reigning champion is barely mentioned in potential clashes with the new blood rising through the division.
But since going the distance with Sakio Bika, Stevenson has rolled over Tommy Karpency, Thomas Williams Jr and Andrzej Fonfara in quick fashion – albeit across a near-two year stretch – while somehow being given a pass to avoid his long-standing mandatory challenger, Eleider Alvarez who has now moved on to challenge Kovalev in August.
Now approaching his 41st birthday, one has to wonder whether the outspoken banger is there for the taking, and the rejuvenated Badou Jack seems the perfect opponent to answer that question.
Jack’s career was struggling to take off with a draw to Marco Antonio Periban and then a devastating first round loss to Derek Edwards. But a year after that defeat he upset the odds when dethroning Anthony Dirrell for the WBC Super Middleweight strap. George Groves was then beaten on points, while Lucian Bute was disqualified in the final round of their bout. A disputed draw with James DeGale then led to Jack moving his understated talents to 175lbs.
In his opening bout at his new weight class he walked through WBA ‘Regular’ champion Nathan Cleverly in 5 rounds. And now with eyes firmly on Jack’s rise he is beginning to look like the pick for this weekend’s battle at the Air Canada Centre – home of the Toronto Raptors.
Swedish born Jack 22-1-2(13KO’s) will feel his height and boxing ability are enough to dethrone the more erratic but heavy handed Stevenson, and given a lack of activity and some questionable performances in recent years, Jack has good reason to feel like the favourite here.
Jack does little wrong, without doing much that looks spectacular. While Stevenson is quite the opposite, leaving his chin open but finishing opponents with frightening force.
Stevenson’s freakishly long reach could cause the biggest problem for Jack, who will be measured from the outset. And having faced many polished boxers, it will be interesting to see how Jack fairs against a man that is so unpredictable.
The feeling is that Jack needs to take this fight beyond the halfway stage unscathed. From there he can begin to take command of the contest, making the most of Stevenson’s low work rate, and low guard.
But the danger that lies in Stevenson’s fists will remain until the final bell, even if his chances of landing that decisive punch slim somewhat as the fight wears on.
The pick is to go against the form guide and side with the home fighter to pull out one more fine performance at this level. Jack’s measured approach will frustrate Adonis, but the challenger will be forced to take risks if he is to grab a win on the road. And when taking those risks he will leave himself vulnerable to the destructive left cross of the southpaw Stevenson.
Jack’s size and smarts should help him see off the power, but he will rue a missed opportunity here when Stevenson narrowly retains his title on the cards.