Adonis Stevenson vs. Badou Jack – Analysis & prediction
By Allan Fox: WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis ‘Superman’ Stevenson (29-1, 24 KOs) sees his fight tonight against Badou ‘The Ripper’ Jack (22-1-2, 13 KOs) ending abruptly with him knocking out the challenger with one big shot.
Stevenson has been winning a lot of his fights with single shots over the years, and he expects that to continue tonight.
Stevenson vs. Jack will be taking place at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. The fight will be televised on Showtime Championship Boxing in the U.S.
Jack has a pretty good beard, so he might be able to withstand the early onslaught from Stevenson to come on late. Jack, 34, is a different type of an opponent than the ones that he’s been facing during his career. Jack is an old school fighter, who likes to throw body shots to slowly wear down his opponents. We saw how Jack was able to wear down George Groves, Anthony Dirrell and James DeGale with hard body shots in the first six rounds of those fights. In the second half of those fights, Jack dominated his fatigued opponents. Stevenson goes by the nickname, ‘Superman,’ but he is human and he can be hurt, as we saw in his 2nd round knockout loss to Darnell Boone in 2010. Jack has a real chance of doing the same thing to Stevenson if he can get to his body early and often tonight.
”Don’t blink! Because it’s only going to take one punch to knock him out,” Stevenson said about tonight’s fight with Jack. ”I am looking for the knockout. It’s 12 rounds and I just need one punch. He will stay on the floor. I may be 40 years old but I’m hungry. My promoter tells me, ‘Knockouts sell. Knockouts sell,’” Stevenson said.
Knockouts do well, but so does staying active against the best fighters in the 175 lb. weight division. Stevenson hasn’t been doing either of those things, which is why he’s not more popular than he is today. Stevenson has failed to take his career to the next level to increase his popularity despite having held the WBC light heavyweight title for the last five years. Stevenson’s reign as the 175lb champion is longer than any other current light heavyweight champion, and yet you can argue that he’s not as popular as WBO champion Sergey Kovalev. Soon, Stevenson may not even be as popular as WBA champion Dmitry Bivol, who is creating tons of new boxing fans each time he fights.
Sergey Kovalev is predicting a victory for Jack tonight, largely because of the 40-year-old Stevenson’s inactivity in the last 11 months. Stevenson hasn’t fought since June of 2017 in stopping Andrzej Fonfara in the 2nd round. In the last three years, Stevenson has fought only nine rounds in total. In addition to Stevenson’s fast 2nd round knockout of Fonfara, he also stopped Thomas Williams Jr. in 4 rounds and Tommy Karpency in 3 rounds. Those fights take Stevenson back all the way to 2015. Stevenson has not been a two or three fights per year champion. He’s been fighting just once a year for the last two years in 2016 and 2017, and against very weak opponents.
”I hope Jack beats him and gets the title because he’s more motivated and busier than Stevenson,” Kovalev said to skysports.com. ”Stevenson hasn’t fought for a long time and kept his belts. It would be easier for me to make a fight with Jack.”
It’s in Kovalev’s best interest for Badou Jack to win the fight over Stevenson, because he has a better chance of getting a fight against him. Getting Stevenson to agree to a fight against Kovalev could prove to be difficult. The fighters haven’t fought each other all these years. It’s unlikely that will change, especially with the way Stevenson is being matched by his management. They’ve been very risk aversive for Stevenson. The positive is Stevenson hasn’t lost in 8 years. The negative has faced only one good fighter during that time frame. He’s not been taking risks with his career until tonight’s fight, and it’s perceived that he’s just milking his WBC title against the weakest opposition that his management can find for him.
Some boxing fans would see Kovalev’s comments and believe that he’s got an axe to grind towards Stevenson after failing to get a fight against him in the last five year. Kovalev has shown interest in fighting Stevenson for ages, and yet the two of them have never been able to put a fight together for some reason. Kovalev calls Stevenson, ‘Chickenson,’ because of his apparent reluctance to face him. Who knows whether who’s really to blame for the two of them not facing each other?
Jack, 34, is the younger fighter by six years than the 40-year-old Stevenson, and he’s been busier lately. Jack fought twice in 2017 against Nathan Cleverly and James DeGale. Jack didn’t get the victory in the DeGale fight, however, as the fight was scored a 12 round draw in January of last year. Stevenson likely would have knocked DeGale out if it had been him inside the ring with the British fighter, but that’s how he wins fights. Stevenson knocks guys out. It’s when he doesn’t get knockouts that his fights become more difficult for him.
Stevenson hasn’t had a close fight in his 12-year pro career, but he has lost. Darnell Boone knocked Stevenson out in the 2nd round in April 2010 in Maryland. That was an unexpected outcome with Stevenson getting a little too cocky and paying for it by getting dropped hard in the 2nd round by Boone.
Stevenson has won his last 16 fights since then, but he’s only faced only one good opponent that was at the top of his game in Tony Bellew. Stevenson won his WBC belt in stopping Chad Dawson in the 1st round in June 2013, but that was against a very faded fighter. Dawson was not the same guy after being knocked out in the 10th round previously by Andre Ward.
”Jack’s defense is too good and he doesn’t take any chances,” former super middleweight champion Carl Froch said to skysports.com. ”Stevenson can be wild and wide open at times, and he will slow down as he goes through the rounds. That’s when Jack will start to get to him, winning maybe a late stoppage, certainly points.”
The real question is can Jack get to the later rounds to test Stevenson’s stamina tonight, as there hasn’t too may fighters that have been able to get past the first five rounds against him in the last four years. Only Sakio Bika and Fonfara were able to go 12 rounds with Stevenson in the last four years, and both of them were hurt at least once. Bika fought in a safety first manner against Stevenson, which was totally unlike how he normally fights. Had Bika looked to mix it up with Stevenson like he normally does in his fights, it’s quite possible that he would have been knocked out by him too. It’s still hard to say though. Bika has a good chin, and he might have been able to take Stevenson’s best shots. We’ll never know, because Bika chose to fight in a careful manner for the entire 12 rounds.
Jack says it was he that pushed for the fight against Stevenson and not vice versa. Stevenson didn’t come looking for him. He had to push to make the fight happens, and that’s entirely believable. When you look at Stevenson’s last eight fights, you can believe that it was Jack that initiated making the fight.
These are Stevenson’s last 8 opponents since winning the WBC title in 2013:
• Tony Bellew
• Tavoris Cloud
• Andrzej Fonfara
• Dmitry Sukhotskiy
• Sakio Bika
• Tommy Karpency
• Thomas Williams Jr.
• Andrej Fonfara – rematch
”I asked for this fight. He didn’t ask for it,” Jack said. ”I called him out before I even moved up. He’s one of the best so I’m all about fighting the best. This is my sixth world champion back-to-back. He has nothing that scares me. I fear no man. He’s one of the toughest guys in boxing but I’m a tougher guy,” Jack said.
Jack has definitely been facing the better opposition than Stevenson in the last three years of his career. There’s no comparison between the two in terms of the risks that each of them has been taking.
These are Jack’s last five opponents since 2015:
• Anthony Dirrell
• George Groves
• Lucian Bute
• James DeGale
• Nathan Cleverly
A healthy Groves would have a chance of beating Stevenson. If those two mixed it up, Stevenson would struggle with the powerful jab and right hand from Groves. Jack beat Groves by a 12 round split decision in September 2015. Jack wore Groves down with body shots in the first half of the contest, and then cruised to victory in the later rounds.
Jack’s body punching will be a real problem for Stevenson tonight, as he had problems in the past when getting hit with body shots in his first fight against Fonfara. Jack putting in a lot of body work in the first half of the fight should be enough to wear the 40-year-old Stevenson down, and cause him drop his hands. By the 8th round, Stevenson will be finished off with a head shot from Jack. The combination of Stevenson’s advanced age, poor opposition and the inactivity in the last three years will doom him to defeat against Jack. Stevenson has had too many early knockouts against dreadfully poor opposition for him to be able to fight a grueling match against a body puncher like Jack tonight. The 6’1” is the bigger fighter than the 5’11” Stevenson. Size matters in boxing, as it does in other sports. Moreover, Jack is a lot more powerful since moving up to light heavyweight from the super middleweight division. The added weight means that Jack hasn’t had to boil down to make the weight limit like he had to do when fighting at 168.