Adonis Stevenson vs. Andrzej Fonfara: Preview and Prediction for Title FIght

Briggs SeekinsFeatured ColumnistMay 18, 2014

Adonis Stevenson vs. Andrzej Fonfara: Preview and Prediction for Title FIght

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    Saturday night in Montreal, WBC and lineal light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson returns to action against talented contender Andrzej Fonfara of Poland. Montreal has always been a fight-crazy city, and Stevenson has developed into its biggest boxing star over the past year. 

    He has helped make the light heavyweight division one of the most exciting in the sport, a rare status for the 175-pound class. A win Saturday should be a precursor to a showdown with the legendary Bernard Hopkins later in the year. 

    An upset win by Fonfara will create yet another wrinkle of intrigue heading into 2014's second half. 

Tale of the Tape

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    Per Boxrec     Adonis Stevenson     Andrzej Fonfara
    Record:     23-1, 20 KOs     25-2, 15 KOs     
    Height:     5'11"     6'2"
    Reach:     72"     77"
    Weight:     175 lbs     175 lbs
    Age:     36     26
    Stance:     Southpaw     Orthodox
    Hometown:     Laval, Quebec     Chicago, Illinois
    Rounds:     93     117

    Adonis Stevenson is a native of Haiti, and Andrzej Fonfara is from Warsaw, Poland. But both fighters have built up strong followings in their adopted homes. 

    Fonfara is a long light heavyweight who fights with a style that makes good use of his reach. Stevenson's southpaw stance makes his explosive athleticism even more difficult to deal with. 

    Although Stevenson is a decade older, these two have a very similar level of experience in terms of number of fights, with Stevenson having a slight edge in quality of opposition. 

Main Storylines

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    At 36, Adonis Stevenson is arriving at boxing stardom late in life. But in 2013 he did indeed arrive, capturing the light heavyweight title from Chad Dawson with a sensational first-round knockout. For the year, he was 4-0 with all four wins coming by stoppage. 

    As 2014 began, a lot of fans were looking forward to a potential showdown between Stevenson and WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev, who also knocked out four opponents in 2013. But earlier this year Stevenson signed with Golden Boy, which meant he was also leaving HBO for Showtime. 

    So for now, a fight with Kovalev remains unlikely. What is quite possible is a unification bout later this year with the ageless Bernard Hopkins, current holder of the IBF and WBA titles at 175 pounds. Hopkins has a history of traveling to Montreal to beat local heroes, so a fight there with Stevenson would be a major event. 

    Andrzej Fonfara is the underdog, but he's very much a live one. The Ring doesn't have him in its top 10 at light heavyweight, but I'd personally favor him over the bottom half of that list.

    He is an experienced professional who beat Glen Johnson by one-sided unanimous decision in July 2012 and stopped former world champion Gabriel Campillo last year. He has excellent reach that he exploits well and respectable punching power.

    Fonfara hasn't lost in nearly six years. At 26, he's coming into his prime.  

Strengths

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    Adonis Stevenson is an explosive, dangerous puncher. His athleticism allows him to close distance in a hurry, and his southpaw stance makes his angles even more difficult to pick up.

    He also has enough boxing skill to walk opponents down and bust them up over the course of a fight. Just the threat of his power gives him a strong edge, because it makes opponents hesitate to come into range and hit him. 

    Andrzej Fonfara has an excellent jab and very good footwork. When he's able to establish a rhythm and keep an opponent on the outside, he's very hard to attack.

    He has enough power to end a fight. He sets up the straight right with a crisp jab. 

Weaknesses

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    Adonis Stevenson is such a strong offensive fighter that he sometimes seems to be fighting without any concern for what his opponent might do to him in return. For a southpaw, he seems fairly oblivious to the placement of his lead foot when he comes forward. 

    When an opponent is doing a good job of staying on the outside, Stevenson has some difficulty reaching him. 

    Andrzej Fonfara works from a traditional, upright European guard. That could make him vulnerable to being driven backward against an explosive, athletic fighter like Stevenson who fights out of a crouch.

    Fonfara's power saved him against Gabriel Campillo, but he had a lot of trouble with the former champion's use of angles and movement to close range. 

Adonis Stevenson Will Win If...

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    Adonis Stevenson relies on his power, and that's been an incredibly successful formula for him in his career. He's an explosive puncher who can end fights in a hurry. 

    In this fight I think Stevenson should look to start quickly and blow out Andrzej Fonfara in Round 1, like he did against Chad Dawson last year. Fonfara has good reach and a solid jab and knows how to fight from the outside. If Stevenson lets the challenger establish a comfortable rhythm, it could make for a frustrating fight. 

    If he can't blast Fonfara early, he needs to have some patience while working his way into range. I think he should look to jab under Fonfara's jab, throw to the body and then follow up with the left uppercut upstairs. 

    Fonfara has solid power. Stevenson needs to respect it and avoid coming forward at a careless angle that leaves him open to a straight right hand. 

Andrzej Fonfara Will Win If...

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    Andrzej Fonfara needs to be ready from the opening bell. As Adonis Stevenson showed last year against Chad Dawson, he has the tools to take out a world-class fighter in a hurry. 

    But even though he needs to be cautious of an early blitz from the champion, Fonfara will need to resign himself to being hit hard.

    Tony Bellew had some success in staying away from danger on the outside against Stevenson last December, but Bellew was gun shy of throwing his own hands and leaving himself vulnerable for counterattacks. So eventually Stevenson was able to walk him down and beat him up. 

    Fonfara need to use his jab and lateral movement to keep Stevenson on the outside, frustrating him. But he also has to move into range to let go with his own power shots. 

    Stevenson tends to leave his lead hand low, so Fonfara should look to hook over the top of it and then come straight down the middle with his own right hand. 

Prediction

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    I think Andrzej Fonfara is a talented fighter who has the potential to make this a compelling battle. But with Adonis Stevenson, you can never dismiss the possibility of an early and explosive stoppage. 

    I wouldn't be shocked if he wins this by knockout within the first three rounds.

    What I think is more likely is that Fonfara will have some luck controlling the range in the early going and extend the fight into the middle rounds. But Stevenson will land enough heavy body shots to slow Fonfara down by Round 7 or 8. 

    From there, things will become tough for the challenger. Stevenson will walk Fonfara down and stop him in nine. 

    Expect a unification bout between Stevenson and the ageless Bernard Hopkins next fall.