It's well documented that in boxing, one punch can change a fight. In the case of newly crowned light heavyweight world champion Adonis Stevenson, one punch can reap the rewards of years of struggle and relentless hard work.
Saturday night saw a dramatic shift in power in the 175 lb ranks as Chad Dawson lost his lineal claim of light heavyweight king at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Canadian banger Adonis Stevenson (21-1, 18 KO's) certainly lived up to his alias of “Superman”, shocking the world in his home-town destruction of Dawson with a huge left cross that ended the bout in just 76 seconds. “Bad” Chad, who told the media, and Stevenson himself, that he had to “Google” his opponent as he had no idea whom he was, is perhaps guilty of overlooking the Haitian-born Canadian. The explosive victory caps an emotional night for the 35 year old Stevenson, who strived from a tough upbringing, serving 2 years imprisonment in 1998 before discovering a new-found focus in boxing.
Options won't be few or far between now for the new light heavyweight king, who was very vocal in expressing his opinion as to why nobody wanted to fight him in his post fight HBO interview. Stevenson, who moved up from super middleweight, was mandatory challenger for Carl Froch's 168 lb IBF strap before the Brit opted to go in a different direction in a big money unification rematch with Mikkel Kessler. Froch (31-2, 22 KO's), who avenged his 2010 loss to the Dane last month in London, was blasted by Stevenson on air;- “Now you know why Froch and Kessler didn't want to fight!”, roaring to Max Kellerman. With arguably one of the strongest resumes in boxing today, few believe Froch “ducked” the Canadian, but whether he'd want to fight Stevenson now after his impressive display Saturday, is another question. Yet with future fights with Andre Ward, Kessler again, and rising star George Groves all on the horizon for the Nottingham native, it's unlikely Stevenson will be high on his bucket list.
Another Brit, Tony Bellew (20-1-1, 12 KO's), remains mandatory challenger to Adonis Stevenson's title after his recent convincing win over Isaac Chilemba. The rugged Scouser, who made it no secret in his desire to challenge Dawson prior to the defeat, is now is faced with a new and perhaps unexpected obstacle in southpaw “Superman”.
However, it remains to be seen whether Bellew will get an immediate shot at Stevenson- as is often the case in boxing, the rules can be manipulated by promoters, delaying mandatory bouts to make way for the bigger money fights. Adonis' eyes will no doubt be firmly fixed upon the all-Canadian grudge match between Jean Pascal and Lucian Bute in July, paving the way for a fight with the victor in what would be the biggest fight Canada has seen and an event that would capture not only nationwide attention, but global media buzz alike.
Meanwhile, much has been made about the apparent lack of credible opponents for pound-for-pound star and Super-6 winner Andre “SOG” Ward, who coincidently also stopped Chad Dawson in his most recent outing. Ward (26-0, 14 KO's) has talked about moving up in weight in the near future, and you can bet Stevenson is on the undefeated American star's radar after Saturday night's upset win. The 2004 Olympic Gold Medallist was ringside to witness Adonis' win this weekend, taking on the role as commentator for HBO and didn't hold back in his appreciation of the performance. “He [Stevenson] stepped up. He went 7 lb's north of his usual weight class and didn't just win, but knocked out Chad Dawson with one punch. You gotta respect that.” said Ward in his post fight analysis.
While campaigning his entire professional career in the super middleweight ranks, “SOG” is no stranger to light heavyweight, winning a gold medal in the Athens Olympics at that weight class. A step up to challenge Stevenson wouldn't be out of territory for the current WBA and Ring Magazine super middleweight champion, and a fight that could certainly materialise at some point in the near future.
Whatever happens, Adonis Stevenson can rest assured that he has a few big pay days ahead of him. While in the meantime boxing welcomes a new star, as he revels in a high profile win for the classic Kronk gym- honouring former trainer and the legend that is, the late, great Emmanuel Steward.