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The Hottest Boxing Storylines to Watch in Week of September 30

Kevin McRaeFeatured ColumnistOctober 11, 2016

The Hottest Boxing Storylines to Watch in Week of September 30

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    Adonis Stevenson has emerged as a big star in the light heavyweight division.
    Adonis Stevenson has emerged as a big star in the light heavyweight division.Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    It was a very up and down week in the sport of boxing. We witnessed the birth of a light heavyweight superstar, and the continued downward spiral of a former middleweight champion. 

    This is par for the course in the sport of boxing, where fortunes rise and fall as fast as it takes for a punch to find its target. This is nothing new, and it's part of what makes the sport so compelling for the fans.

    Boxing is just entering it's busy season, and there are big fights coming up virtually every weekend between now and the end of the year. The storylines are going to get bigger as we close out 2013.

    Here we deal with boxing's continued judging problems, Adonis Stevenson's meteoric rise, and whether Miguel Cotto has anything left in the tank.

    These, among others, are the top boxing storylines to watch in the coming week.

Can We Go Just One Month Without a Judging Controversy?

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    Chavez Jr. (shown here against Sergio Martinez) was the beneficiary of a gift decision over Brian Vera.
    Chavez Jr. (shown here against Sergio Martinez) was the beneficiary of a gift decision over Brian Vera.Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

    Say all you want about the disgrace that was C.J. Ross's scoring of Floyd Mayweather vs. Saul Canelo a draw, but at least the other two judges did their job on that night and awarded the victory to the right man.

    Poor Brian Vera was the victim of bad scoring this past Saturday night, and he got saddled with an undeserved loss. 

    You can argue that his fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. was close, and that the former WBC middleweight champion landed the harder blows. But it seemed to most at ringside and watching on TV that Vera's work-rate (he threw twice as many punches and landed 50 more, according to CompuBox) would matter for something. 

    Reasonable people can argue over a close fight, but to say Chavez Jr. won seven or eight rounds—as two of the official judges did—borders on the incompetent. 

    It's beating a dead horse to say that these types of decision are harmful to the sport. But they just keep happening, and each one is another self-inflicted wound.

Can We Declare Adonis Stevenson a Superstar Yet?

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    Adonis Stevenson put a beating on Tavoris Cloud Saturday night.
    Adonis Stevenson put a beating on Tavoris Cloud Saturday night.Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    There were many in the boxing community—yours truly included—who weren't completely sold on Adonis Stevenson, despite his 76-second demolition of Chad Dawson in June. It wasn't entirely clear whether that performance was more about how far "Superman" had come, or how far "Bad" Chad had fallen.

    A lot of those doubts can not be put to rest. This dude is for real, and he's more than just a one-trick pony.

    Stevenson's underrated boxing ability was on full display this past Saturday night, as he dominated—a seemingly clueless, plan-less and hopeless—Tavoris Cloud to retain his light heavyweight championship.

    His power was fully on display—he seemed to stun the durable Cloud more than once—but he also exhibited surprisingly good footwork and counterpunching. If he's able to put that together consistently with his power, then the sky's the limit.

    Stevenson vs. Kovalev anyone?

Does Alexander Povetkin Have Any Chance Against Wlad?

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    Wladimir Klitschko will make the 15th defense of his heavyweight championship this Saturday night.
    Wladimir Klitschko will make the 15th defense of his heavyweight championship this Saturday night.Witters Sport-USA TODAY Sports

    Wladimir Klitschko has been the face of the heavyweight division for the better part of the past decade. He hasn't been beaten since 2004, has held at least a piece of the heavyweight crown since 2006 and will be making his 15th defense this Saturday night.

    His opponent, WBA "regular" champion Alexander Povetkin, is without question his most dangerous foe in recent memory, but that's more a testament to his recent opposition and not an endorsement of the Russian's ability to win the fight. 

    Povetkin's resume reads like a who's who of fighters who you face when they're past their prime, and many feel that cruiserweight champion Marco Huck beat him when he stepped up to the big boy's yard last year. 

    The Russian has been brought along extremely slowly—many say protected—and he'll be taking a massive leap in class for this fight. Given Wlad's dominance, and all these other factors, it's hard to see how he doesn't become No. 16 on the road toward "Dr. Steelhammer's" quest to break the all-time heavyweight title defense record. 

Does Miguel Cotto Have Anything Left in the Tank?

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    Cotto is 32 years old, and enters the fight having lost two straight.
    Cotto is 32 years old, and enters the fight having lost two straight.Harry How/Getty Images

    Miguel Cotto has undergone a slew of changes in the past few months. He's back with his old promotional outfit—Top Rank—has a brand new trainer—Freddie Roach—and will be back on HBO when he faces Delvin Rodriguez on Oct. 5 in Orlando, Fla. 

    He'll also be fighting for his career in that bout, and a loss would almost certainly signal the end of an exciting and highly successful career. 

    Cotto is only 32 years old—hardly ancient for a fighter by today's standards—but he's been through plenty of wars and has aged beyond his years. He's dropped back-to-back fights, but in very different fashion.

    His loss to Floyd Mayweather was not only excusable, but many thought it would help resurrect his career. He wasn't outclassed, and he touched the pound-for-pound king more than we're used to seeing. But then he went out and got outclassed, and nearly shutout, by Austin Trout in December. 

    This will be his first fight since that debacle, and he'll need to show that the tank isn't on empty to justify continuing on.

Are Split-Site Telecasts HBO's New Weapon in the Battle with Showtime?

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    Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    Are split-site telecasts the latest weapon in HBO's arsenal against rival Showtime? It's possible, and while not a new idea, it could help to shift some of the balance back by producing more compelling nights of fights.

    For years HBO dominated the cable boxing wars, but Showtime pulled a massive coup earlier this year when it wooed Floyd Mayweather Jr. and the entire Golden Boy Promotions stable to the network.

    This past Saturday night, HBO televised a two-city doubleheader—which was originally a three-fight, three-city triple-header before the postponement of David Haye's matchup with Tyson Fury—featuring Adonis Stevenson's defense of the light heavyweight title and the return of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

    It's something HBO will also be doing this coming weekend when Miguel Cotto faces Delvin Rodriguez in Orlando, Fla. and Wladimir Klitschko defends the heavyweight crown in Russia. 

    This allows the network to give fans more than one potentially main event-level bout in the same evening, and while it might provide a financial and logistical headache, the people who support the sport can only benefit.

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