No one can accuse WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis "Superman" Stevenson (22-1-0, 19 KO) of not defending his title on a regular basis. The Canadian by way of Haiti won the title in explosive fashion by knocking out Chad Dawson in the first round in June. He defended his crown in September when he displayed surprisingly sharp boxing skills against Tavoris Cloud.
Stevenson stopped Cloud after the seventh round when the challenger didn't answer the bell for the eighth.
On Saturday, Stevenson will defend his title for the second time in just over two months when he faces tough Englishman Tony "The Bomber" Bellew (20-1-1, 12 KO). Bellew has been in the ring with some of the top names in England, but he isn't well-known stateside.
He lost his only previous shot at a world title when he was outpointed by then WBO champion Nathan Cleverly in 2011, though one judge called the fight a draw. This fight represents a major opportunity for Bellew, who will turn 31 the day of the fight. He has a chance to expand his notoriety worldwide and to give himself an awesome birthday present.
The 36-year-old champion is on the fast track to bigger and better things, but he must handle Bellew before he can think about a possible unification bout with current WBO champion Sergey Kovalev, who fights Ismayl Sillakh on the same HBO card.
It is going to be a great night of boxing. Here's how you can catch the action.
When: Saturday, Nov. 30, at 10:15 p.m. ET
Where: Colisee Pepsi, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
TV: HBO's Boxing After Dark
An Eye to Unify
Stevenson is the type of fighter who represents a breath of fresh air for boxing fans. He's a champion who sees value in holding one of the world titles and craves the glory he can attain by unifying the belts in his weight class.
The sport would be better off with less champions, and unification bouts primarily represent identifying the best of the best.
A Kovalev-Stevenson bout would be one of the most anticipated fights of the year—even if it takes place first in the first quarter of 2014. It isn't often fans get to see two explosive champions face each other with their belts on the line in a meaningful bout.
If Stevenson handles Bellew, he'll have done his part to make the fight a reality.
The Party Crasher
If Bellew pulls off a win over Stevenson, he should temporarily change his nickname to Kryptonite. The Englishman will have proved to be the only man capable of thwarting Superman's rise to mega-stardom if he can win on Saturday.
Guys like Bellew who are tough, consummate, but lesser-known professionals cherish opportunities to play spoiler. A win would wreck things for two of the biggest stars at 175 pounds but could set Bellew up for another major payday.
Either a rematch with Stevenson, a fight with Kovalev—assuming he wins—or maybe even a date with IBF champion Bernard Hopkins could be in store. Bellew's plans may not be as grandiose as Stevenson's, but he's still got plenty to fight for.
Who wins the fight and how?
Bellew is 3.5 inches taller and he has a two-inch reach advantage over the champion. If he can establish his jab early on, he could make this a really difficult night for Stevenson. I don't believe he has the power to stop the champion with one shot like Darnell Boone did in 2010, but he has the physical tools and boxing acumen to frustrate him.
That said, Stevenson has two very important advantages in the fight: athleticism and power. He's easily the quicker man, and his power is among the best pound-for-pound in the sport. He throws one-hitter quitters, and it is hard to account for the edge that gives a fighter in the ring.
I see Stevenson having some early issues getting inside Bellew's jab, but ultimately he'll land a punch that changes the night. Bellew is probably too tough to be put to sleep with one shot like Dawson was, but you'll be hard-pressed to find any fighter who can take Stevenson's assault for a prolonged period.
Superman will retain his title via seventh-round TKO.
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