Adonis Stevenson's Next Fight: Breaking Down Superman's Potential Opponents

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2014

Adonis Stevenson's Next Fight: Breaking Down Superman's Potential Opponents

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Memorial Day 2013 was a lot different for Adonis Stevenson.

    A year ago, the Haitian-turned-Canadian was a little more than a rising super middleweight with a balky resume as he prepared to face the reigning consensus best among the 175-pounders—Chad Dawson.

    Needless to say, the holiday weekend this year has a different vibe in the Stevenson house.

    Not only did he forcefully erase Dawson from the title-belted fraternity in just 76 seconds of action last June 8, but he also went on to defend the former champion’s World Boxing Council title twice more en route to racking up Fighter of the Year recognition from no less an authority than Sports Illustrated.

    His first defense of 2014—a unanimous 12-round defeat of Polish-born Chicago resident Andrzej Fonfara on Saturday night in Montreal—continued the 36-year-old’s rapid rampage through the light heavyweight ranks and kept the chatter going on which big-fight options could await him by the close of 2014.

    We’ve compiled a list of the four most likely fighters to become his next dance partner—or at least those most ideally suited to the role—and, as always, we welcome your input and suggestions in the comments.

4. Sergey Kovalev

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    TIM LARSEN/Associated Press

    It was only six months ago when a meeting with WBO champ Sergey Kovalev seemed a formality.

    He and Stevenson were sharing the same HBO broadcast from Montreal, defending their respective trinkets against hopelessly outgunned opponents and showcasing the tumult they’d ultimately display against each other on the Network of Champions pay-per-view airing sometime in 2014.

    Then Stevenson went and got himself hooked up with adviser Al Haymon, took his television business to Showtime and seemingly scuttled at least the near-term fortunes for a Russian-Haitian showdown.

    It was that transaction that resulted in separate Kovalev and Stevenson beatdowns of Cedric Agnew and Fonfara, respectively, though neither has been far from the other’s mind—with Kovalev calling Stevenson a “piece of s***” after his March win and Stevenson referring to Kovalev as “Frankenstein” during the lead-up to Saturday night’s endeavor.

    But hope springs eternal, according to Showtime boxing executive Stephen Espinoza, who told, per Michael Woods, that Stevenson has indeed agreed to a match with Kovalev when “available.”

3. Carl Froch

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    Ironically, when the world was waiting for Stevenson to crank up the volume on the prospective showdown with Kovalev, one of the initial short circuits was Englishman Carl Froch.

    In fact, Stevenson followed his smash-up of fellow UK native Tony Bellew last November with a call-out not of his fellow light heavyweight kingpin but of his former rival at 168 pounds—a division he inhabited before moving full time to 175 in 2013.

    Froch has made no bones about the fact that he’s not interested in rising above 168 to get the match, but Stevenson said this week that he could still get to the lower weight “for a really big fight.”

    If some other options don’t pan out—and if Froch is still a champion after next week’s rematch with George Groves in London—this one could rise above the level of just talk.

2. Jean Pascal

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    USA TODAY Sports

    A match with a former holder of the WBC belt that Stevenson now wears—fellow Haitian-turned-Canadian Jean Pascal—is one who could serve a series of purposes for Stevenson.

    Not only is the now-31-year-old the mandatory challenger to Stevenson’s title after a defeat of Lucian Bute in January, but he’s also precisely the sort of opponent who could draw a hefty crowd for a match at what’s become both men’s home venue, the Bell Centre in Montreal.

    And for the competitor in Stevenson, a summit with Pascal would also be an opportunity to reverse the result of a pair of amateur meetings—both decisions—that came a month apart in early 2003.

    It’s not as sexy as some of the others, but it does make a lot of sense.

1. Bernard Hopkins

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    Luis M. Alvarez/Associated Press

    Given the choice of a rampaging 31-year-old Russian and a 49-year-old known more for subtlety than slugging, it’s not surprising to some that Stevenson has leaned toward Bernard Hopkins.

    But regardless of what folks think of the competitive value of the old man now known as The Alien, it’s also true that selecting Hopkins instead of Kovalev could be better for Stevenson’s bottom line.

    The fight is nearly a lock to sell well in Montreal if that’s where it lands, and the fact that it could come within months or weeks of Hopkins’ 50th birthday will guarantee all manner of lead-in media hype.

    Based on his comments to Showtime’s Jim Gray after an April defeat of Beibut Shumenov, it’s an international trip the Philadelphian—holder of the IBF and WBA titles—is looking forward to taking, too.

    “Stevenson,” Hopkins said, “I’m coming to Canada.”

    Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were gathered firsthand.