Adonis Stevenson is one of the longest-reigning champions in boxing, but his five-year run has been a frustrating one.
Stevenson has had eight successful title defenses, six via knockout, since winning the WBC light heavyweight title from Chad Dawson in 2013. That sounds impressive until you read the list of opponents.
Tavoris Cloud, Tony Bellew, Dmitry Sukhotskiy, Sakio Bika, Tommy Karpency, Thomas Williams Jr. and Andrzej Fonfara (twice) have lost to Stevenson. Definitely not the most difficult obstacle course.
At last, Stevenson has a formidable opponent in Las Vegas resident Badou Jack, a former two-division champion in the midst of his prime.
Stevenson (29-1, 24 knockouts) will defend his 175-pound title Saturday against Jack (22-1-2, 13 KOs) on a Showtime-televised main event from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The broadcast starts at 7 p.m. with the WBC featherweight title bout between Gary Russell Jr. and Joseph “Jo Jo” Diaz.
“I’m the best fighter in this division, period,” Stevenson said. “When I win on May 19, I’ll just be doing my job. People might still talk trash, but I’ll still be the champ.”
Stevenson has done his job as a champion. He can stop any opponent with his powerful left hand. But champions seek the best, and Stevenson has failed to do that until now.
For years, Stevenson was supposed to fight Sergey Kovalev to determine the true best fighter in the division. It still hasn’t happened, and Kovalev went on to defend his three belts against Andre Ward.
Ward defeated Kovalev twice and decided to retire instead of dealing with the messy negotiations that come with Stevenson.
“He doesn’t seem eager to fight the best,” Ward said of Stevenson last year.
The victory over Bellew stands out for Stevenson, but that was in 2013. Fonfara was a quality opponent, but there was no need to fight him twice.
Many pundits are picking Jack to upset Stevenson because of the champion’s age and inactivity. Stevenson turns 41 in September and hasn’t fought in 11 months or been tested in years. Stevenson was a minus-140 favorite and Jack a plus-12o underdog at the Westgate Superbook earlier this week. It’s now an even minus-110 fight.
Jack, 34, is coming off a dominant knockout win over former champion Nathan Cleverly on last year’s Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor undercard at T-Mobile Arena.
“I asked for the Adonis Stevenson fight a long time ago, and the Cleverly fight got me there,” said Jack, who is promoted by Mayweather. “We’ve been talking to Floyd a long time about this fight. He’s a man of his word, and he always said that I was going to fight Stevenson.
“I’m grateful for what he’s done, and now I just have to take advantage of the opportunity.”
Showtime announcer opens up
Combat sports broadcaster Mauro Ranallo reveals his lifelong battle with mental illness on Showtime’s latest documentary, “Bipolar Rock ‘N Roller,” that airs May 25.
Ranallo, the blow-by-blow announcer for Showtime Boxing, spoke to the Review-Journal’s Bryan Salmond about why he agreed to the documentary.
“I am not ashamed, I’m not afraid, I’m more than willing to be the so-called canary in the (coal) mine to bring this serious issue to the forefront,” Ranallo said. “That is why I agreed to have my life, all of my highs and lows, be documented for this documentary. To try to save lives, to try to show people you can be a highly functional individual and still deal with the daily struggle.”
Ranallo has called the biggest events in MMA, wrestling and boxing, including last year’s Mayweather-McGregor bout.