By Jake Donovan
Win or lose, Donovan George became an instant fan favorite on Monday afternoon.
The Chicagoland super middleweight helped bring an end to the long and exhausting search for an opponent willing to face Canadian southpaw Adonis Stevenson. Such a bout came with the reward of a mandatory title shot for the winner, along with the privilege of it airing live on Showtime.
Several potential challengers passed on the fight, including Dirrell who – through his lawyer – informed the IBF last Thursday his intention to take his career in another direction.
George was already slotted on the undercard against an unnamed opponent, with the backup plan of his sliding into the main event if and when Dirrell withdrew. Once he was informed of the sudden vacancy, George couldn’t say ‘yes’ quick enough at the chance to participate in a title elimination bout.
"I’m very thankful to have this monster shot at Adonis Stevenson,” George (22-2-1, 19KO) said of what will now serve as his second straight premium network appearance. His last ring appearance was a hard-fought points loss against Edwin Rodriguez, which aired live on HBO.
Dirrell joins a growing list of opponents unwilling to face Stevenson in this particular slot. Thomas Oosthuizen, James DeGale, Kelly Pavlik and Sakio Bika have all also checked the ‘decline’ box on their respective invitations to the dance.
Facing a gifted puncher like Stevenson (18-1-1, 15KO) – who is trained by Emanuel Steward and has won five straight, all by knockout – on the road isn’t the most alluring offer. Not only is George willing to face him but equally willing to do whatever it takes to escape the Bell Centre in Montreal with a win.
“Stevenson is a very talented kid with a big punch,” George acknowledges. “I will come very well prepared and willing to go to war.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox