Showtime has a difficult task coming up on Saturday.
Many fight fans would prefer to watch WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis "Superman" Stevenson (23-1, 20 KO) lock horns with another of his fellow 175-pound titleholders. Instead, Stevenson will be facing little-known contender Andrzej Fonfara at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
Will fans tune in to see Stevenson face a man most haven't heard of? Per FightNights.com, Stevenson is a massive favorite in the bout.
The card does feature two other mildly interesting scraps. Stevenson's countryman David Lemieux will take on Fernando Guerrero and Jermell Charlo will face Charlie Ohta.
Here's the viewing information.
When: Saturday, May 24 at 9 p.m. ET
Where: Bell Centre in Montreal
Live Stream: Livesport.TV (region restricted)
The Book on Stevenson
After establishing momentum for himself with an exciting KO victory over Chad Dawson in June 2013 to capture the title, Stevenson's reputation in the boxing community has taken a hit.
Many believe he's ducking WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev.
Both fighters were originally signed with HBO and seemed headed for an epic collision. Early this year, Stevenson jumped ship and signed with Showtime and with Al Haymon as an advisor/manager.
Because of boxing's cold war between HBO and Showtime, the most anticipated light heavyweight bout in years may never happen.
What were Stevenson's motivations for heading to Showtime? Only he knows for sure, but there's no question this fight won't bring the interest that a scrap with Kovalev—or even one with WBA and IBF champ Bernard Hopkins—would bring.
According to Stevenson's promoter Yvon Michel, who is quoted by Yahoo! Sports Kevin Iole, the promotional team is only expecting between "7,000 and 8,000" fans in the Bell Centre on Saturday night. The venue seats 22,000.
You can be sure if Stevenson had signed and was facing Kovalev on Saturday at the Bell Centre, there would be far more than 8,000 in the building, Stanley Cup fever or not.
A group of fans would also have been content to see Stevenson match up against ageless wonder Bernard Hopkins.
Instead, he appears to have chosen the path of least resistance and signed to face Fonfara.
What does Stevenson say about his move to Showtime? In an interview with Anson Wainwright of The Ring Magazine, Stevenson said:
This is only a business move. I owe a lot to HBO for giving me my first real chance when they approved the fight with Dawson and after they gave me two more dates. After I won ‘Fighter of the Year,’ HBO made me a good offer but Showtime came with a better offer.
We'll find out soon if this is bad for business.
The Book on Fonfara
Amidst all the talk about Stevenson trying to take the easy way out, Fonfara is getting disrespected. He's no Kovalev or Hopkins, but that doesn't mean he's not a good fighter.
The 26-year-old Polish boxer-puncher stands 6'2". He has a five-inch reach advantage over Stevenson (77 to 72). Fonfara also has a very good chin. He took some good shots early on against Glen Johnson in July 2012 before winning a unanimous decision.
He also has one-punch KO power. Take a look at this knockout of Samuel Miller immediately after Miller was warned for a blatant punch to the back of the head. It takes place at the 10:25 mark of the video.
No one is paying attention to Fonfara in this fight, and Stevenson has been upset in this type of situation before.
Crafty and powerful veteran Darnell Boone surprisingly knocked Stevenson out in 2010. Could we see history repeat itself?
This could be a dangerous bout for Stevenson, especially if he's overconfident. Fonfara can crack and he has a strong beard. He's probably never faced a puncher quite like Stevenson, though.
Critics can say what they want, but when Stevenson hits guys, they go to sleep. In his recent bouts, he's been demonstrating improved boxing skills to go with his power.
Expect to see another stoppage victory for Stevenson and for talks of a unification bout with Hopkins to be kicked into overdrive immediately after.
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