QUEBEC CITY, Canada — 2014 wasn’t the year most envisioned for lineal light-heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson. Last night, the WBC title-holder finished the year 2-0 courtesy of last night’s domination and fifth round knockout of Dmitry Sukhotsky. And while Stevenson had an easy time of it, the other name fighters on the card had scares to varying degrees before securing their wins.
STEVENSON WINS AND DEFERS FUTURE TO HAYMON: There was never any doubt that Stevenson would emerge victorious. Sukhotsky had never faced a fighter of Stevenson’s caliber and it showed from the beginning. The action was sparse until Stevenson picked up the pace following a quick knockdown in the second. From there, his lethal left cross appeared to have a magnet with Sukhotsky’s cranium. The damage reached its apex in the fifth with Stevenson scoring three knockdowns that put an end to the beatdown.
With 2014 essentially being a wasted year for Black Superman, you would think he’d be more forceful in calling out fighters to face in the new year. Instead, Stevenson boasted that guys like Kovalev need to “come to him,” being that he’s the “big champion” of the division. In addition, he stressed that he’s letting advisor Al Haymon pick his future opponents.
In 2014, Haymon’s direction has caused Stevenson to miss out on lucrative fights against Bernard Hopkins, Jean Pascal and Sergey Kovalev. In an ultimate twist of irony, by March Kovalev will have faced both Hopkins and Pascal.
Maybe Stevenson is using the Mayweather strategy of letting all the top guys fight each other and then swoop in to face the #1 guy who emerges. But as of right now, Stevenson’s track record in 2014 is proof positive that simply being the lineal champ doesn’t make you “the man” of the division.
BETERBIEV TAKES CHARGE: With all the hype building around Artur Beterbiev since his destruction of Tavoris Cloud, many have forgotten the 29-year-old only has seven professional fights. He made the cardinal mistake last night of underestimating his opponent Jeff Page and paid for it in the opening round by suffering a flash knockdown. Admitting the knockdown woke him up, Beterbiev went on a tear in the second round. He bulldozed Page with two knockdowns, the first off a straight right and second a left hook, to force a TKO stoppage.
Beterbiev is showing he’s a force to be reckoned with, but I’d like to see him get in 2-3 more fights against Top 20-25 opposition before we hear any talk about a title shot.
JOJO DAN EARNS ANOTHER SD OVER KEVIN BIZIER: The most competitive bout of the quadruple-header was the rematch between Jojo Dan and Kevin Bizier. Both guys laid heavy leather on each other throughout. What gave Dan the edge on the scorecards was a knockdown off a counter left hook, giving him the nod via scores of 115-112, 114-113 and 113-114.
The win now makes Dan the #1 contender for Kell Brook’s IBF welterweight title. Since Brook is trying to get Amir Khan in the ring, I’m sure the prospect of facing Dan isn’t high on his list. However, Brook has been inactive since his breakout title win over Shawn Porter over the summer. He needs to build back some momentum, and a credible win over his #1 contender in Dan would be a much-needed boost. Even more incentive is Dan’s propensity to brawl would play right into the hard-punching Brook’s hands.
DIRRELL WINS ELIMINATOR OVER EDWARDS: Getting stung in the 12th round was the only blemish on Andre Dirrell’s unanimous decision win over Derek Edwards (120-108, 119-109, 119-107).
Dirrell elected to fight the entire bout southpaw and still handled Edwards with relative ease. Chis Byrd was on corner duty for Dirrell and spent most of the later rounds urging his charge to push for a KO. Dirrell did succeed in stinging Edwards badly with left hands, but he never went all out for a KO. Afterward, it was revealed that Dirrell injured his left hand. Although he denied this had any bearing on the fight’s outcome, it’s possible this was the motivating factor for Dirrell’s southpaw strategy.
Edwards did make sure that Dirrell didn’t leave completely unscathed by rocking him with a right hand in the closing minutes of the 12th. Dirrell wisely held to prevent Edwards from replicating his upset KO over Badou Jack from earlier this year.
Dirrell is now the #2 contender for Carl Froch’s IBF super middlweight title. Since Froch is focused on facing a big name in Las Vegas (Chavez, GGG), Dirrell will likely have to settle for facing the #1 contender in James DeGale. Count me in for that potential matchup.