The WBC has a problem.
That problem is they have a champion in Adonis Stevenson who does not fight nearly often enough nor against the best available competition.
Since defeating gate keeper Chad Dawson for the title nearly four years ago to the day Stevenson has defended the title only seven times. Stevenson fought just once in 2016 & 2017 is half gone. In that time the two best opponents were a weight drained Tony Bellew who is really a cruiserweight but took on the role of an extra from Schindler's List to challenge for the vaunted green belt. And Sakio Bika himself a gatekeeper who came off a draw & a loss yet somehow managed a title shot two years ago this past April.
All the while Stevenson was never positioned to unify the titles with Sergey Kovalev, the undisputed champion who only just had his titles lifted from him by Andre Ward six odd months ago.
Now we get a rematch between Stevenson and Andrzej Fonfara – a match most believe unnecessary & most do not want.
The popular boxer from Warsaw Poland and based in Chicago Illinois took a circuitous route to this latest title shot.
Fonfara was last seen in the ring in a 10 round slugfest with guess who – Chad Dawson. Fonfara caught Dawson through his lacsidasical defense with the straight right – his Sunday Punch before swarming on Dawson forcing the stoppage at 0:38 of the tenth round. However before that Fonfara was brutally stopped by day laborer Joe Smith Jr a year ago this month. Smith Jr. Claimed the WBC international title effectively the #1 contender position to challenge Adonis Stevenson.
Nevertheless, I rub my eyes and every time I look at the fight calendar what remains when my eyes refocus is Andrzej Fonfara vs. Adonis Stevenson tomorrow night at the Bell Centre in Montreal Quebec!
Déjà vu all over again.
Not that the first meeting between the two men three years ago last month was boring – anything but! However, boxing is the epitome of the adage “what have you done for me lately?”
At the very same Bell Centre in Montreal Quebec the 24th of May 2014 champion Adonis “Superman” Stevenson faced the “Polish Prince” Andrzej Fonfara in 12 rounds of boxing… Jimmy Lennon Jr vociferated to the crowd Iiiiiiiiiiiitsss SHOWTIME!
From the first bell Fonfara came out aggressively, not a bad strategy against a puncher like Stevenson, a fighter most comfortable setting up & boxing on the front foot. Fonfara’s enthusiasm would be his downfall as he was knocked down by the southpaw Stevenson heavily with a 1-2.
Fonfara met the count easily but could not stage a gunfight with the heavy punching Haitian champion. Fonfara was forced to be cautious while Stevenson head hunted & grew lead left happy. Stevenson preyed upon the ear muff defense of The Polish Prince and controlled the range while spearing the Pole in his guts with a Super Powered left hand ultimately causing a cringeworthy knockdown in the 5th for the champion.
Fonfara was hurt with another left straight to the body in the 6th round but fought his way back into the mix closing the round out strong. Stevenson began to waver slightly beginning in the 7th round. The offensive output was taxing the champion and Fonfara won the 8th round decisively with consistent pressure.
Fonfara seemed to turn the tide on the tiring champion landing his straight right power shot dropping the Stevenson – his defense suffering now from fatigue. Amazingly Stevenson showed championship grit and battled back getting his second wind late the 10th round.
Rounds 11 & 12 were pure attrition. However, Stevenson had built an insurmountable lead. Stevenson retained his WBC light heavyweight title by a comfortable margin, scoring 115-110 on two judges cards and 116-109 on Richard DeCarufel's card.
Tomorrow night the co featured bout pits undefeated 22-0 Eleider Alvarez against another gate keeper Jean Pascal ostensibly for the WBC mandatory position. Alvarez is an exciting fighter who has beaten Edison Miranda and starched the gritty Lucian Butte. Either Alvarez the new contender or Smith Jr are frankly more qualified than Fonfara to get this title shot.
The issue is not limited to the case of the light heavyweight division either, the most glaring example is arguably WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. With nearly 40 fights still his most credible win is over Bermane Stiverne. As recently as April at the Joshua – Klitschko spectacular Wilder was agitating for a fight with newly minted heavyweight Tony Bellew as well as demanding a unification bout with Antony Joshua. Remains to be seen if the latter will happen, Wilder thus far has proved to be little more than a regional draw, his last fight in Birmingham AL against Gerald Washington another lightly regarded contender, though a last minute replacement. Meanwhile, the far more dangerous Luis ‘King Kong’ Ortiz sits atop the shelf, collecting dust.
Stevenson's power is first rate at 175 pounds, all of his punches seemed to hurt Fonfara or forced him to keep his hands at home defending. Despite the long layoff, Stevenson should be in fine form, anyway aside from the 9th round knockdown due mostly to fatigue I believe Stevenson walked through virtually everything Fonfara threw. After suffering a nasty knockout to Smith Jr, being forced to go 10 rounds with Dawson and 12 with Cleverly I think we'll see a shot fighter tomorrow night.
It'll be Superman that brings the kryptonite if Stevenson sets up his left straight to the body or head within a varied attack without chasing a knockout which ought to come inside eight rounds.
The Year of our Lord 2017 has been an example of the axiom “the best will fight the best.”
So it seems Stevenson vs Fonfara II is an anomaly.