Michael McCarthy is here to discuss the biggest talking points from inside and outside the ring over the past seven days.
Ever since Adonis “Superman” Stevenson burst onto the light-heavyweight scene, headline writers everywhere have been waiting for their chance to unleash a stream of Kryptonite-related headlines. All they needed was Stevenson to lose. On Saturday night, at least for a few minutes, it appeared they might get their wish.
Making his debut on Showtime boxing, and in front of his adopted hometown crowd in Montreal, Stevenson was expected to have little trouble against Poland’s Andrzej Fonfara. From the opening bell it seemed the fight would go according to plan for the southpaw Stevenson. A trademark straight left hand dropped Fonfara and at that point the home crowd were expecting a quick victory for Stevenson. However, Fonfara showed he wasn’t just there to pick up a paycheck. He weathered the Stevenson storm and made it to the bell. Although Fonfara wasn’t winning rounds, he was fighting back and showed admirable determination and toughness. Stevenson dropped Fonfara for a second time in the 5th round, this time with a body shot. But again Fonfara refused to stay down.
Although massively behind on the scorecards and having already been on the deck twice, Fonfara was rewarded for hanging in there in the 9th round. Fonfara began the round aggressively and a combination put Stevenson on the seat of his pants, much to the shock of the partisan crowd. Stevenson was in full retreat for the remainder of the round and it appeared a huge upset was on the cards.
However, Stevenson isn’t a champion for nothing. He showed no shortage of determination in overcoming the knockdown and coming back well in the final three rounds of the fight. In the end, he scored a points victory by a relatively wide margin but it was far from the comfortable night’s work many had expected. Although this was not a Kryptonite moment for Superman Stevenson, it certainly appears the air of invincibility has gone.
At 36, Stevenson was a late bloomer, only rocketing to superstardom in the last two years. He is already past the age that most fighters would consider their prime years and Saturday was the first sign that perhaps his best days are behind him. Stevenson’s story is a conflicting one. He is another example of a fighter who, having spent time in prison, has used boxing as a means to turn his life around. In this respect his story can be looked on in a positive light. However, the nature of his criminal past is more disturbing than most. Stevenson was involved in running a prostitution ring and would regularly and viciously beat the women he employed. He served 20 months of a four-year prison sentence and was released in 2001. As he says himself, he has served his time and has not committed a crime since his release. But the ghosts of his past will continue to shadow his career. Where he goes from here is likely to be a match up with fellow veteran titlist Bernard Hopkins.
On the undercard, one -time rising middleweight superstar David Lemieux continued his career rebuild with a comprehensive three round destruction of Fernando Guerrero. Just over three years ago, Lemieux was the rising star in Canadian boxing. He was 25-0 with 24 wins coming by way of knockout. Back to back losses in 2011 to Marco Antonio Rubio and Joachim Alcine badly derailed his career. But Lemieux is still only 25 and has time on his side as well as remaining a popular fighter in Canada.
Last Tuesday, Top Rank promotions announced they had agreed a deal with Manny Pacquiao to extend his contract for a further two years. This new deal means he is tied to Bob Arum until 2017. Bob Arum’s involvement was one of the major stumbling blocks that has prevented a super-fight with Floyd Mayweather over the last 5 years. Many fans had hoped that, with Pacquiao’s contract expiring at the end of this year, Arum could be removed from the equation increasing the chances for the fight to be made.
A similar situation occurred with Miguel Cotto. Cotto was another fighter many had wished to see get a crack at Mayweather but whose involvement with Bob Arum had scuppered any chance of that fight taking place. His deal with Top Rank promotions expired at the end of 2011 and rather than immediately extend it, he decided to chase a fight with Mayweather. Without Arum in the picture Mayweather was more willing to negotiate and the fight took place in May 2012.
Pacquiao’s decision to extend his deal, rather than pursue a fight with Mayweather in 2015 is likely the final nail in the coffin of the super-fight. It is likely that the next realistic opportunity to make the fight will be in 2017, by which point Mayweather will be 40 years old and probably retired.
Next Saturday night, Wembley stadium will see a return of boxing for the first time in almost 20 years. The last fight held at Wembley saw Frank Bruno finally claim a heavyweight title with victory over Oliver McCall in 1995. This Saturday, George Groves and Carl Froch will follow in the footsteps of Bruno, Henry Cooper and Muhammed Ali by bringing boxing back to Wembley. In the last decade there has been a lot of talk of boxing being a dying sport, but the fact that some 80,000 people are expected to turn up for this weekend’s action shows the sport has still got massive drawing power.
Michael McCarthy, Pundit Arena.