This Saturday night from the Six (Toronto according to Drake), Adonis Stevenson meets Badou Jack in a 50-50 bout at light heavyweight. A case can be made for either fighter and it generally revolves around Badou’s volume versus Adonis’s counter left. Once again Showtime proves to be the best network in boxing, giving fans an interesting battle of U.K. featherweights Lee Selby vs. Josh Warrington in the afternoon on Facebook and Youtube. Along with an intriguing matchup at 126 as well, when Joseph Diaz Jr. challenges Gary Russell Jr., for Gary’s featherweight strap as the co-feature from Washington, D.C.
Adonis Stevenson’s 2013 1st-round knockout of then lineal 175-pound champ Chad Dawson seems lifetimes ago. In a sport that thrives on a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately motto, the boxing world has been doing their best Janet Jackson impressions asking for Adonis to be tested.
Now at age 40, Stevenson will finally step in the ring with a quality fighter in his prime Badou Jack. Adonis’s skill level and power have never been in question, but it’s hard to judge someone based almost fully on eye-test. The only adversities that Stevenson has faced since losing early in his career to Darnell Boone is getting dropped against Andrzej Fonfara and some ring rust.
His opponent on Saturday night faced similar adversity early as well, getting caught cold and stopped by Dereck Edwards in 2014. Badou Jack didn’t let that one setback define his whole career, instead he went back to the drawing board in an effort to improve. In that same year, he would bounce back with two victories, setting up a super middleweight title shot with then-unbeaten Anthony Dirrell.
Jack’s next 4-outings were impressive, taking on the likes of George Groves, Lucian Bute, James Degale, and Nathan Cleverly. Badou built his brand back one fight at a time and now has an opportunity to make some real noise at 175. After years of struggling to make 168, Badou looks stronger and more of a fit at light heavyweight, which should improve his ability to take a punch.
Since we’re on the punch resistance subject, that alone is the most important question for the Swedish native. Can Badou Jack absorb and evade Stevenson’s dangerous left hand? It literally could come down to this and only this. That’s not to say Adonis doesn’t have the skill to deliver his potent punch. However, if Badou stands up to Adonis power, Jack will have a mental advantage likely around the midway point of the fight.
The biggest questions facing Adonis is ring rust, age to an extent, and lack of real competition. Just how mentally strong would Adonis be in a position of a having to dig deep? We’ve seen in past bouts Adonis tends to fade in the later frames, all the while his defensive guard drops lower and lower. If Adonis doesn’t feel pressured to up his punch output, he’ll just by lying in the cut waiting to land a perfect KO left.
Which bring us to pace another key factor: can Jack push the pace and pressure Stevenson out of his comfort zone. If Adonis is allowed to control the pace, as previously mentioned, he’ll pot shot with his hands down, waiting for the perfect time to drop the hammer. Stevenson 4-inch reach could play a factor as well, along with subtle lateral movement.
This wanna-be-scribe feels like Badou doesn’t really have a chance in the middle of the ring. Sure, Jack can pivot, use angles, and circle Adonis, but must not get caught up in a flashy skill-for-skill duel. Badou’s best bet is a sturdy jab and tons of body punching. Jack has to wear down Stevenson so he can’t use his legs properly, digging to the body in an effort to open up with power shots to the head later in the fight.
Badou must crowd Stevenson, closing the gap to stay clear of clean lefts and to employ short punches on the inside. Badou is known to keep an excellent work rate and that combined with trapping his man on the ropes will go a long way in the public eye. I use the word public and not judge’s scorecards because for some reason Jack has been on the short-end of the stick in recent fights. Not sure if it’s him as the B-side or Jack’s workman-like style, but considering he’s promoted by Floyd Mayweather you’d think he would get more credit in close rounds.
On to how the actual fight could play out, it’s hard not to see Stevenson getting up early. One would assume Jack will be cautious for at least a few rounds before he steps into the firing range. That’s when the moment of truth will take place, as we find out what kind of chin Badou has at 175.
Assuming Jack doesn’t get stopped, although a likely scenario is Jack coming off the canvas to win, look for Badou to get a grip to gauge Adonis’s vicious left hand. If so, that’s when Badou’s engine will hit a fever-pitch. Jack’s fighter-spirit only gets stronger as the rounds go by, something he’s shown in the last few years against top-level opposition.
If Stevenson hasn’t seriously hurt or obviously stopped Jack, he will begin to fade as he runs out of gas beyond a mini-spurt of him throwing bombs. Adonis will smile as if the punches don’t hurt and hold his way down the stretch. Badou Jack will then pour on the punches, mostly the power variety as he hurts and possibly drops Stevenson.
Truth be told, this is the toughest fight of the year to predict so far and one could make sound arguments for either man. Like most of us quite frankly, we know who we want to win, we just don’t know who will win, the perfect ingredients for a 50-50 fight on paper. Fellow gambling degenerates don’t be afraid to hedge your bet with Adonis by KO and a Jack decision.
Side Note: The Co-Feature for the televised portion of the card on Showtime is Gary Russell Jr. vs. Joseph Diaz Jr. Inexperience and hand speed might be too much for Jo Jo, but Russell’s inactivity could come back to bite him. Also in the later afternoon stateside time Lee Selby and Josh Warrington square-off in yet another U.K. stadium matchup.
Written by Chris Carlson Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available at www.blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio & TheGruelingTruth.Net. Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio