Tonight is certain a night for the uncommon in the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Generally second to Montreal in the big fight game, nevertheless it hosts the most meaningful defense in years of lineal and WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson as he squares off against Badou Jack in a division thrown into haywire with the retirement of former unified champion Andre Ward and the resurgence and recent arrivals respectively of now champions Sergey Kovalev and Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol.
With all these fighters and more waiting in the wings there is a huge rush of fresh air in the 175 pound division.
Stevenson (29-1 24 KO), now 40, certainly has a number of critics who have had much to lament about his title reign that began when he knocked out Chad Dawson back in 2013.
What began with good bouts against Tavoris Cloud, Tony Bellew, and Andrzej Fonfora, ranked and formidable foes back in 2013-2014 and all within the distance, has now turned sour for Stevenson.
Many in the boxing world have judged him for only fighting once a year since September 2015 against what is almost unanimously viewed as sub-par opposition.
Badou Jack (22-1-2 13KO) has had a different kind of frustration coming from in the super middleweight division with two draws against Lucian Bute and James Degale with what again was an overwhelming majority feeling that should have been two victories for Jack.
With his decision against Bute being changed to a DQ victory in his favor over Bute failing a post fight drug test, Jack took his frustrations to the light heavyweight division next – battering than secondary champ Nathan Cleverly.
Stopping him within five rounds, Jack earned a spot to fight Russian standout Dmitry Bivol.
However it had been speculated and later confirmed that his promoter, Floyd Mayweahter Jr. of Mayweather Promotions had worked out a deal with Yvon Michel (Stevenson’s promoter) for a bout with the lineal champion Stevenson – with Jack vacating his secondary WBA belt.
Bivol later came to be full WBA champion last year with a first round blowout of Trent Broadhurst last year.
Stevenson, perhaps is the last of an era of great chapions and fighters of the Montreal scene who now call the city home.
Many expatriates, Stevenson himself being born in Haiti is still a successful and reigning champion when many who were with him in the city have now fallen or are in limbo.
Artur Beterbiev is from Chechnya, but his inactivity stems from a legal disagreement with his promoter.
Lucian Bute from Romania is no longer relevant.
Jean Pascal, while still a fan favorite and attempting a comeback, also not relevant at the moment.
Neither is Stevenson’s fellow compatriot of Haiti, heavyweight Bermane Stiverne.
Also, Montreal native middleweight David Lemieux is on the last of his nine lives as a contender.
While Elidier Alverez of Columbia is now getting his title shot versus WBO champion Sergey Kovalev.
Fellow Columbian Oscar Rivas, an undefeated heavyweight is still a fringe contender.
Stevenson alone remains on top after all this time, in the middle of some dubious conditions notwithstanding.
No matter what the criticisms people have with Adonis Stevenson, almost all who have seen the light heavyweight champion fight are in agreement with the skill and acumen of the pugilist born in Port-au-Prince.
A southpaw with easily one of the best left hands in the business. He has defeated every fighter he has faced with only one loss coming from journeyman Darnell Boone.
Stevenson is one of the last fighters trained by the legendary Emanuel “Manny” Steward.
Many great fighters from the mid to late 90’s to his death in 2008 have sought Steward’s guidance and advice, from Hall of Famers Tommy Hearns, Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko, Evander Holyfield, Julio Cesar Chavez, Miguel Cotto, Oscar De La Hoya with many more magnificent fighters to mention.
Stevenson often fights with yellow trunks which will more often than not contain his moniker “Superman” and “Kronk,” a reference to Steward’s now defunct and destroyed Kronk Gym, in Detroit, Michigan.
Even at 40, Stevenson still has what it takes, until he shows some age or some lack of speed or power to make us think otherwise.
Many predicting not only a Stevenson victory but a knockout win tonight.
Although what makes any great fight is the element of surprise with quite a number also backing the man training with Mayweather, Badou Jack, hailing from Sweden from Gambian parents.
But what does Adonis do if he is victorious?
How long can he continue in the sport against so many younger, fresher, more destructive fighters, many streaming in from the old Soviet Union?
He has long been accused of ducking Sergey Kovalev and fighting only once a year will almost certainly erode any fan base still sticking by ‘Superman’.
He could certainly have an exciting finale by taking on some of those aforementioned beasts from the East.
What should become of Adonis should he be defeated? Retire?
How will the sweet science recall one of the strangest light heavyweight reigns in the sport’s history?
What will win the war over memory of boxing fans, the skill? The legacy? The inactivity? The wasted time and squandered opportunity?
Well, boxing fans always need a lesson in patience and all I’ll say is that a title fight this close to my home in Western New York, I’ll just be enjoy the evening.