Adonis Stevenson needs an opponent. Since hooking up with trainer Emanuel Steward, the Montreal-based Stevenson (18-1, 15 KOs) has won two consecutive fights by brutal stoppage and developed into a feared super middleweight contender.
Because of his late start in professional boxing and advanced age—he is already 34 despite having had only 19 fights—Stevenson wants and needs to move quickly.
Having secured the IBF’s No. 2 ranking (the first spot is vacant), Stevenson has been saddled with a looming title shot but no dance partner to help him get there.
According to Dan Rafael’s ESPN blog, Stevenson’s promoter, Yvon Michel, has been in talks with Golden Boy Promotions’ Richard Schaefer about matching Stevenson against rugged contender Sakio Bika (30-5-2, 21 KOs).
Rafael explains how Stevenson and his team had offered the fight to the likes of Edwin Rodriguez, Thomas Oosthuizen, James DeGale, Mikkel Kessler and Kelly Pavlik, which essentially means they have exhausted the possibility of every legitimate IBF contender ranked behind Stevenson and have now arrived at Bika.
Whether this has to do with Stevenson’s knockout power or his lack of mainstream recognition is debatable, but the fact remains that a proposed fight against Bika would be a terrific matchup.
Regarding a Stevenson-Bika fight, Michel told Rafael:
"Showtime loves that fight. We have all the ingredients of an intense and extremely spectacular war. A Stevenson win, and he could make a huge statement in the division. We have made a good offer for Bika, but they seem to be reluctant to come [to Montreal]."
When it comes to Stevenson finding an opponent, location might be as significant an obstacle as his knockout power. While it is understandable that fighters such as Pavlik, DeGale and Kessler would see no reason to travel to Montreal, the Bika fight seems to promise a more flexible negotiation.
“Michel said if an agreement can't be reached with Bika, Stevenson's side is willing to go to a purse bid and see what happens," according to Rafael's report. "But Michel has a good relationship with Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer and is hopeful that they can work something out.”
While Stevenson might not have widespread appeal, he does have a loyal following in Montreal, and he is concretely established as legitimately marketable in Canada.
Of course, the issue is pressing, and GYM (Groupe Yvon Michel) needs to secure Stevenson an opponent for August 11 as he is slated to be in the chief supporting bout to the Jean Pascal-Tavoris Cloud IBF light heavyweight title fight at the Bell Centre.
Bika’s hesitancy to come to Montreal is somewhat understandable, and he has already tasted defeat at the Bell Centre when he lost to Lucian Bute via clear decision in 2007 in yet another IBF elimination bout.
Still, Bika has shown a willingness to fight on the road, and other than the Bute fight, Bika has (somewhat) recently fought Peter Manfredo Jr. in Providence, Rhode Island and Andre Ward in Oakland, California.
Before the Bute fight, Bika had unsuccessfully challenged twice for super middleweight titles—the first time against Markus Beyer in Germany, which was immediately followed by a brave and scrappy performance against Joe Calzaghe in Manchester, England.
Bika’s history of fighting in his opponent’s backyard suggests that negotiations could be flexible if the money is right, and Michel informed Rafael that he remains convinced a negotiation can be ironed out before the fight goes to a purse bid.
Bika has an aggressive style that forces his opponents into grueling contests where nearly every round had highly competitive stretches. In his most recent fight, Bika scored an excellent win when he stopped Dyah Davis in Round 10 of what amounted to an important crossroads fight.
Bika’s strength and aggression dictates that a fight against Stevenson has the potential to be superb, and Bika, at this point, seems like the perfect opponent to test the hard-punching Stevenson’s legitimacy.