Michael Rosenthal

Stevenson, Fonfara both walk away winners: Weekend Review

BIGGEST WINNER

Adonis Stevenson: Conventional thinking going into the RING light heavyweight champion's defense against Andrzej Fonfara was that the challenger was ill-equipped to handle a monster like Stevenson, meaning anything less than a spectacular knockout would reflect poorly on him Saturday in Montreal on Showtime. That's what happened. Stevenson hurt Fonfara early in the fight but couldn't put him away and then seemed to grow tired, which opened the door for a strong finish by Fonfara. Stevenson put Fonfara down twice and won by a large margin on the cards – 115-110, 115-110 and 116-109 (I had it 116-109) – but the loser probably left the ring with more admiration than the winner. However, Stevenson's ego probably was damaged more than his position as a pivotal player at 175 pounds. Talk after the fight immediately turned to Sergey Kovalev and Bernard Hopkins, two potential opponents. A Stevenson-Kovalev showdown seems to be out of reach at the moment because Kovalev fights for rival HBO, which means Hopkins (who turns 50 in January) might be in Stevenson's near future. Once again, I wouldn't put anything past the remarkable Bhop. Stevenson's lack of polish and defensive skills might suit the old men well. I don't see it, though. I think Stevenson (24-1, 20 knockouts) is too fast and too powerful for this version of Hopkins. But he'd have to do better against Hopkins than he did against Fonfara to pull it off.

 

BIGGEST WINNER II

Andrzej Fonfara: I absolutely loved Fonfara's response when Jim Gray congratulated him on his performance immediately after the fight: He rejected it because he didn't win. That's a competitor. Fonfara (25-3, 15 KOs) didn't go to the Bell Centre for a moral victory; he went to win a world championship. And he came a lot closer to doing it that many believed he would. The Chicago-based Pole showed tremendous resilience, particularly in his ability to take so many vicious body punches. He also showed plenty of ability and power himself, winning a few late rounds and stunning the crowd by putting the champ down in the ninth. As a result, the 26-year-old from Warsaw turned what was expected to be a showcase for Stevenson in front of his hometown fans into a blood-and-guts battle that was competitive and immensely entertaining. In the process, Fonfara demonstrated that he's no mere “opponent,” that he's a legitimate 175-pound contender who seems to be getting better and has the potential to give anyone trouble. I won't congratulate him for that; he would throw it back in my face. I will say that few fighters have gained so much after losing a fight by a fairly wide margin. We haven't seen the last of Andrzej Fonfara.

 

RABBIT PUNCHES

Jermell Charlo (24-0, 11 KOs) experienced some humility when he went down against Charlie Ota (24-2-1, 16 KOs) on the Stevenson-Fonfara card. Other than that, the talented junior middleweight contender cruised past a capable opponent by a unanimous decision to maintain his ascent. … I thought David Lemieux (32-2, 30 KOs) was more or less finished after he lost back to back fights in 2011. I was wrong. The Montrealer looked anything but finished against capable veteran Fernando Guerrero (26-3, 19 KOs) on the Stevenson-Fonfara card, overwhelming the Dominican-American en route to a brutal third-round knockout. Lemieux fought with the confidence, ferocity and punching power of a future champion who will always be fun to watch. Keep a close eye on him. … Boxing lost a prominent figure in Matthew Saad Muhammad, who died at 59 of Lou Gehrig's disease on Sunday in Philadelphia. Muhammad held the WBC light heavyweight title between 1979 and 1981, an era rich in wonderful 175-pounders. He was one of the best ever. RIP, champ.

 

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