Adonis Stevenson may have found a way to dip his toes in the same fountain of youth Bernard Hopkins has kept hidden from the rest of the world for all these years, because at 36 years of age, Stevenson seems to be only getting quicker and better.
This colossal-hitting pugilist successfully defended the WBC light heavyweight title Saturday night when Tavoris Cloud failed to make it out of his corner for the eighth round.
Fully living up to his “Superman” moniker, Stevenson (22-1, 19 KOs) dominated Cloud (24-2) for seven full rounds, stopping Cloud for the first time in his career in the process and dispelling any claims that his 76-second knockout victory over Chad Dawson in June was a fluke.
Stevenson’s feet looked quicker than ever before and his hand speed was simply out of this world.
“Thunder” Cloud, a former IBF champion, had nothing to offer Stevenson. He loves making fights ugly on the inside but he was never able to close the distance with his swift opponent. Stevenson sprung from corner to corner maintaining optimum distance to uncork his cataclysmic left hand.
And Cloud’s truly freakish ability to take a punch was on full-display as Stevenson landed punches at will.
Remarkably, out of the southpaw stance, the Haitian-born champion led with his left hand for almost the entirety of the fight. Round after round, Stevenson relied on his simmering hand speed to punish his opponent, hardly setting his punches up with a right hand, as one would traditionally see with a southpaw.
Instead, Stevenson led with a variety of left handed punches, including a rear uppercut—a punch that even the world’s most blistering of punchers seldom throw for the risk of being brutally countered that comes with it.
But this night belonged to Stevenson. And now, the entire light heavyweight division does too.
Everybody knew Stevenson was a puncher. But Saturday night, he became a boxer. He broke the unbreakable Cloud, a former champion and top-10 light heavyweight, and looked brilliant doing so, setting himself apart from the rest of the division, until proven otherwise.
Bernard Hopkins has been the best 175-pound fighter in the world as far back as 2006 when he outpointed Antonio Tarver. And despite Stevenson’s one-round demolition of Dawson, some will maintain that “The Executioner” still is today.
But Hopkins’ light heavyweight track record isn’t nearly as impressive as one might think. He has had nine fights and five wins above the super middleweight limit since defeating Tarver in 2006 but only two of those can truly be considered quality light heavyweight victories—those being against Roy Jones Jr. and Jean Pascal.
He lost to Joe Calzaghe; beat Ronald "Winky" Wright, who outside of his fight with Hopkins would never weigh more than 160 pounds in his career, destroyed Kelly Pavlik, another middleweight, and dropped a decision to Dawson in 2012, removing him from the light heavyweight throne.
So when Dawson fell at the hands of Stevenson, many felt Hopkins should retake his place amongst the 175 pounders, on account of Stevenson’s weak résumé.
Which might be the case if Hopkins’ light heavyweight ledger was stock-full of quality wins or if maybe Stevenson managed to just sweat out a close decision against Dawson—but neither is the case.
Where Hopkins came out on the wrong side of a 12-round decision, Stevenson obliterated Dawson in 76 seconds. Now that “Superman” has added another win over a top-10 light heavyweight (who had never been stopped, no less) he has just as many quality victories as the 48-year-old all-time great—except in far more destructive fashion.
Stevenson is the world’s No. 1 light heavyweight. And the world better take notice.
As for what’s next, there’s only one fight that matters. It involves the Russian bulldozer that recently flattened the formerly undefeated Welsh star, Nathan Cleverly.
Witness: Adonis Stevenson vs. Sergey Kovalev.
May your past transgressions be pardoned. Because when these two weapons of mass destruction square off, there is no promise humanity makes it out alive.
"Every act of creation is first an act of destruction" —Pablo Picasso