Sunday, December 21, 2014

Stevenson KO’s Sukhotskiy, Will Face Kovalev-Pascal Winner For Undisputed Championship

WBC Light-Heavyweight world champion Adonis Stevenson successfully made the fourth defense of his world title by scoring a brutal fifth round knockout over WBC fifth rated contender Dmitry Sukhotskiy on Friday night at the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City, Canada. Stevenson, a heavy favorite going into the fight did not face much resistance in this fight as the challenger was very defensive and did not let his hands go consistently. This allowed Stevenson to get his punches off first and to seemingly pick his shots.

Stevenson scored a knockdown of Sukhotskiy with a left hand in round two and closed the show in round five scoring three knockdowns all as a result of left hands forcing a stoppage of the fight at 2:42 of round five. Although Sukhotskiy’s tentativeness was perhaps a tactical approach in looking to nullify Stevenson’s hand speed, Sukhotskiy simply did not have an answer to avoid Stevenson’s offense.

With the win Stevenson advances to 25-1, with 21 Knockouts. What impressed me about Stevenson’s performance was his patience in that he did not go for the knockout right away against an opponent in Sukhotskiy, who falls to 22-3, 16 with Knockouts, who did not offer much offense and who had never previously been stopped in his career prior to this fight. Simply put, Stevenson waited for his opportunity, was able to capitalize on the openings Sukotskiy gave him, and was able to score the knockout win when the opportunity presented itself. 

This win for Stevenson also sets up a fight in 2015 for the undisputed world Light-Heavyweight championship as Stevenson will face the winner of the upcoming Light-Heavyweight championship fight between undefeated WBO/IBF/WBA champion Sergey Kovalev and former WBC champion Jean Pascal, which will take place on March 14, 2015 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada. Although Stevenson theoretically could make another elective defense of his world title before a fight between himself and the winner of that fight takes place, this observer does not believe that Stevenson will. It could be expected that Stevenson will wait to see if anything emerges that would delay the unification bout from taking place before deciding whether he will take an elective defense. Given not only the anticipation of full unification of the Light-Heavyweight division that has been gradually building over the last couple of years, but also the economics involved, I cannot see Stevenson wanting to fight another top contender seeing as his victory over Sukhotskiy has cleared the way for an undisputed championship fight to take place with seemingly the WBC, WBA, IBF, and WBO all on board.

Also on this card, rising Light-Heavyweight prospect Artur Beterbiev advanced to 7-0, with 7 Knockouts by scoring a second round knockout of previously undefeated Jeff Page 15-1, 10 Knockouts. Beterbiev overcame a knockdown in the first round to score three knockdowns and stopped Page at 2:21 of round two. Beterbiev, who represented Russia twice in two Olympic games is currently rated number ten in the WBA Light-Heavyweight ratings and per not only his victory in this fight, but also his knockout over former IBF Light-Heavyweight world champion Tavoris Cloud in September of this year, it will be interesting to see where Beterbiev will fit in the equation of the Light-Heavyweight division in 2015.

In a Super-Middleweight bout former world title challenger Andre Dirrell 24-1, 16 Knockouts scored a lopsided twelve round unanimous decision over veteran Derek Edwards 27-4-1, 14 Knockouts. Dirrell dictated the fight from start to finish as Edwards could not land his offense consistently due to Dirrell’s ability to control distance, his hand speed, and lateral movement. Edwards however, did connect with a left hook in the twelfth round that briefly stunned Dirrell, but could not take advantage. Official scores were 120-108, 119-109, and 119-107 all for Dirrell. Unofficially I scored this fight a shutout in favor of Dirrell 120-108.

With the win Dirrell earned the number two ranking in the IBF’s Super-Middleweight rankings and called out current unified WBA/IBF champion Carl Froch, who defeated Dirrell in 2009 in a fight that was for the WBC title and was part of the Super-Six World Boxing Classic Super-Middleweight tournament. It has been reported by several media outlets that Froch is considering retiring if a hoped for fight with former WBC Middleweight world champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. doesn’t come to fruition. What this might mean in regard to the International Boxing Federation’s (IBF) Super-Middleweight ratings is if Froch does decide to retire, Dirrell the number two IBF contender would theoretically be mandated to face the IBF number one contender James DeGale for what would be the vacant IBF world championship. 

In what was the most competitive fight of the evening, top Welterweight contender Jo Jo Dan 34-2, with 18 Knockouts scored a razor thin twelve round split decision over Kevin Bizier 22-2, with 16 Knockouts.  The fight, which was an elimination bout to determine a mandatory challenger for IBF Welterweight world champion Kell Brook, was a rematch of an extremely close fight between Dan and Bizier in 2013.  Much like their first encounter there were several “Swing Rounds” where there is likely a difference of opinion as to who won those rounds. 

Bizier was able to score a knockdown of Dan in the rematch, but the result of the rematch was the same as their first fight, Dan winning a close twelve round split decision.  Official scores were 114-113 Bizier and 115-112, 114-113 for Jo Jo Dan.  Unofficially I scored this fight 114-113 for Bizier.

This was definitely not an easy fight to score and I felt Bizier was the more active of the two. The knockdown in round seven gave Bizier the edge on my scorecard, but I can see an argument for either fighter winning this fight.  

In other bouts:  

Jr. Middleweight Sebastien Bouchard 9-2, with 3 Knockouts scored a sixth round stoppage of Cedric Spera 11-3, with 2 Knockouts. Official time was 1:43 of round six.  

In a Featherweight bout Vislan Dalkhaev scored a four round unanimous decision in his professional debut over Csaba Toth 13-25-1, with 8 Knockouts. Official scores were 40-35, (On two scorecards) and 40-34 all for Dalkhaev.  In a Jr. Middleweight bout Custio Clayton was also successful in his professional debut scoring a four round unanimous decision over Sophyan Haoud 3-3, with 1 Knockout. Official scores were 40-36, (On two scorecards) and 39-37 all for Clayton.

The main storyline heading into this card was whether or not Adonis Stevenson would be successful in setting up one half of the anticipated clash for the undisputed world Light-Heavyweight championship.  Stevenson accomplished his goal in retaining his WBC world championship and did his part to set up the lucrative unification bout.  

The Boxing world now awaits the outcome of the upcoming championship fight between unified WBO/IBF/WBA champion Sergey Kovalev and former champion Jean Pascal.  With four major sanctioning organizations of the sport seemingly behind the idea of determining one undisputed champion in the Light-Heavyweight division it could be a positive turn for a sport that is all too often the subject of ridicule and criticism.  If all the events that have taken place in the Light-Heavyweight division does lead to one undisputed champion, it is my hope that the sport’s sanctioning bodies will adapt a similar approach in Boxing’s other sixteen weight classes.  It’s time for those who regulate and sanction the sport to showcase some of the good that Boxing has to offer.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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