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Adonis Stevenson faces Sakio Bika tonight in Canada

Adonis Stevenson Sakio Bika(Photo Credit: Amanda Kwok / PBC on CBS) By Dan Ambrose: While many boxing fans are looking forward to an intriguing unification match between WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson (25-1, 21 KOs) and IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champ Sergey Kovalev (27-0-1, 24 KOs), Stevenson, 37, isn’t looking past his opponent tonight former WBC 168 pound champion Sakio Bikla (32-6-3, 21 KOs) in their fight at the Pepsi Coliseum, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

Stevenson can’t afford to look past Bika, because this is probably the best fighter that Stevenson has ever fought before. Stevenson has fought better boxers than Bika in the past like Chad Dawson and bigger punchers like Tony Bellew, but none of the opponents that Stevenson has faced had the punch resistance and the toughness that Bika possesses.

Bika, 5’11 3/4″, will have a slight height advantage over the 5’11” Stevenson. Whether this will help Bika is unclear, but it could be a factor if he’s able to handle Stevenson’s power for the entire fight. Bika will have the size to get to Stevenson and punish him with power shots. We could see Stevenson’s stock drop badly tonight if he loses or if he has to struggle to get a victory.

Just with Bika’s ability to take punishment, he’s going to be able to stick around late in the fight to test Stevenson’s chin again and again. Stevenson’s ability to take shots is very much in question after his recently knockdown against Andrzej Fonfara in 2014 and his knockout loss to journeyman Darnell Boone in 2011.

“I don’t have any problems fighting Kovalev,” Stevenson said via the “I will fight anybody and now there’s a chance to fight Kovalev. Any fight I do, they talk about Kovalev and any fight Kovalev does, they talk about me. I still stay focused on Bika. I will stay very, very focused on him because I know he will be ready for me.”

As tough a time that Bika gave in his two fights against Anthony Dirrell, Stevenson had better be focused on Bika. He took some major shots from Dirrell in both fights, and he just kept coming forward the entire time to punish him with shots. Bika’s hand speed wasn’t impressive and neither was his punch accuracy. However, when he would land, he putting some major power behind his shots, and he had Dirrell plenty worried.

Stevenson has been knocking everyone out lately, and he’s only had two opponents that have made it to the 12th round in the last three years. But what’s more of a concern for Stevenson is that he’s going to be facing a guy that’s going to be putting a ton of pressure on him, and that could be a problem. Stevenson doesn’t fight nearly as well when he’s being pressure than he does when he’s the one walking his opponents down.

Stevenson will try and control the fight from the outside using his jab and his big power shots. But you can expect Bika to walk him down and try and force the fight up against the ropes where he’ll look to punish Stevenson to the body and head. If Stevenson can’t keep the fight to the outside, he’s going to have a long and painful night because he’s a poor inside fighter.

The co-feature bout is an interesting one between the unbeaten #11 WBA light heavyweight contender Artur Beterbiev (7-0, 7 KOs) facing ring veteran Gabriel Campillo (25-6-1, 12 KOs) in a fight that will likely not go the distance. Beterbiev plans on knocking Campillo out and then moving on to bigger names in the light heavyweight division. Campillo will likely try and walk Beterbiev down like he does with all of his opponents. Needless to say, that’s not a good style to use against someone like Beterbiev because he’s a very good puncher, and he prefers when his opponents come to him rather than him having to chase them around the ring.

Beterbiev has previously beaten Kovalev twice in the amateurs, and he wants a shot at facing Kovalev in the pros after tonight’s fight. It’s not likely to happen this soon, but Beterbiev may have the best chance in the division to defeat Kovalev due to his combination of power and inside fighting skills. This is no knock on Stevenson because he’s a good fighter, but he’s not good at fighting at close range. You have to be able to fight on the inside to have a chance at beating Kovalev due to him being so tall. Stevenson is going to struggle badly against Kovalev on the outside, and I’m not sure he’s going to be able to pot shot him enough to get a knockout like he’s done with his other opponents.
The fights will be televised on CBS on Premier Boxing Champions.

Below are Friday’s weights:

Adonis Stevenson 174.4 vs. Sakio Bika 174.6
Artur Beterbiev 175 vs. Gabriel Campillo 174.6
Julian Williams 154.6 vs. Joey Hernandez 155
Kevin Bizier 149.4 vs. Fouad El Massoudi 148.6
Oscar Rivas 251.6 vs. Oezcan Cetinkaya 219.4
Sebastien Bouchard 149 vs. Denis Farias 149.2
Custio Clayton 151.8 vs. Ronald Berti 151.6
Jan Michael Poulin 159.4 vs. Michel Tsalla 159.4
Shakeel Phinn 168 vs. Roody Rene 168

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