By Paul Mason
Haitian born, adopted Canadian, Adonis Stevenson gets easily the sternest test against his WBC Light Heavyweight crown this Saturday (19th May) when he meets the former WBA Champion, and former WBC Super Middleweight Champion, Badou Jack. The Air Canada Centre in Toronto hosts the fight, with Showtime airing in the USA, and Sky Sports picking up the UK rights. Stevenson has defended the belt eight times in just under five years, and at the ripe old age of 40, time is fast running out for him to create a lasting legacy. Here I preview the fight.
Adonis Stevenson (29-1, KO24) v Badou Jack (22-1-2, KO13) – 12 Rounds, WBC Light Heavyweight Title
A lot of negativity has been levelled at WBC Light Heavyweight Champion, Adonis Stevenson throughout his Title reign, which spans back to June 2013. He is accused of ducking the big hitters in the division, and having no intentions of unifying. This namely by Sergey Kovalev, who has been vocal in his dislike for the man he calls “Chickenson”. Stevenson also has boxed exclusively in his adopted country of Canada throughout his time as Champion, and has been fighting inferior opponents in his Title defences.
This seemingly ends this Saturday, as Stevenson faces a real live challenger in Swedish born, Las Vegas resident, Badou Jack. Jack has been a WBC Super Middleweight Champion, as well as wrecking Wales’ Nathan Cleverly in five one sided rounds on the Mayweather v McGregor undercard last August to win the WBA Light Heavyweight Title.
Stevenson turned professional in Montreal in September 2006. After thirteen straight wins, he suffered his only career defeat thus far against dangerous journeyman, Darnell Boone in April 2010. Boone stopped Stevenson in two rounds. Stevenson rebounded with six straight knockout wins, before avenging his solitary loss to Boone with a brutal sixth round knockout, to set up a shot at Chad Dawson’s WBC Title.
Stevenson came into the fight as a clear underdog, but caught Dawson cold in the very first round, knocking him out to ruthlessly rip Dawson’s belt away.
After a decent first defence against Tavoris Cloud (RTD 7) Stevenson faced mandatory challenger, Tony Bellew in November 2013. A weight drained looking Bellew succumbed to a sixth round stoppage defeat in Quebec City. Since then, the level of opposition for Stevenson has been sub-standard. Andrzej Fonfara was outpointed in May 2014, and Dmitry Sukhotskiy was knocked out in five seven months later. Then came Sakio Bika (Unanimous) and the severely outgunned Tommy Karpency (TKO3). Since that September 2015 triumph, Stevenson has boxed only twice. Thomas Williams Junior was knocked out in four rounds, and in his last outing, in June last year, he went over old ground, this time stopping Fonfara in the second. He makes the ninth defence of his belt in a real test of his credentials.
Badou Jack quietly turned professional in June 2009, in a sports hall in his native Sweden, and also racked up two wins in Finland during his first year. After meeting former Heavyweight World Champion Shannon Briggs at a Swedish boxing event held in honor of the Swedish boxing legend Ingemar Johansen in 2009, where Jack was fighting and Briggs was brought in as a guest, Jack moved to the United States in 2010 to train with Briggs and eventually sign with Lou DiBella, bringing his 5-0 record over with him. Jack moved to 11-0 and, following a sparring session with Andre Dirrell, his skills caught the eye of Floyd Mayweather, who signed him up to his Mayweather Promotions stable. Common opponents are a theme for this fight as in his 16th fight, he took on Marco Antonio Periban in Las Vegas in September 2013. The fight was the first blot on his record, scored a majority draw. Jack immediately rebounded from this, knocking down Rogelio Medina three times en route to a sixth round TKO victory.
In February 2014, it seemed Jack and James DeGale were on a collision course to fight in an eliminator for a world title, but those plans were shattered at that time when Badou was caught cold and knocked out by the unheralded Derek Edwards. Again Jack was forced to rebuild, and after two wins against Jason Escalera (Unanimous) and former George Groves victim Francisco Sierra (TKO6) “The Ripper” challenged Anthony Dirrell for the WBC version of the world title. Jack was seen as the underdog for the fight, but outfought Dirrell and exposed his limitations fighting on the inside for a majority points victory.
Perhaps Jack’s most impressive win came five months later on the Mayweather v Andre Berto card against the aforementioned Groves. The Hammersmith man endured a nightmare start after being knocked down in the first round, and this helped Jack accumulate enough points to win via a split decision.
Jack was then held to another Majority Draw, this time against Lucien Bute, who had lost three out of five fights in the ones proceeding the Jack contest. Although many observers had Jack winning handily, it was not the performance Jack would have hoped for and he had to settle for a share of the spoils. However, this would later be changed to a disqualification win for Jack, after Bute failed a post-fight drug test.
Jack would be pegged back in his next fight, his last as a Super Middleweight. He and DeGale finally locked horns in January 2017. DeGale knocked Jack down in the very first round of their unification contest for the WBC and IBF Titles, but in an up and down fight, Jack rallied and knocked down “Chunky” in the final round to earn a majority draw. Rather than take a rematch, Jack had simply outgrown the weight.
He immediately challenged Nathan Cleverly in Las Vegas last August for the WBA Light Heavyweight Title. Jack was never in trouble, and pounded the Welshman to defeat and retirement in five rounds.
I think we could finally see Stevenson relinquish his grip on the WBC Title in this fight. I feel that Jack will be too cute and fresh for Stevenson, and my pick is for Jack to become the new Champion via close decision in Stevenson’s back yard. Stevenson has talked about giving flavour of the month Bellew a rematch at a heavier weight, so he may get a final payday yet following this fight.