By Jake Donovan
Adonis Stevenson looks to add an exclamation point to the statement he’s made throughout his 2013 in-ring campaign. The southpaw knockout artist makes the second defense of the World lineal light heavyweight championship versus England’s Tony Bellew (Saturday, HBO, 10:15PM ET), marking his fourth fight of the year, one that has many hailing him as the leading contender for Fighter of the Year.
Stevenson announced his title stage presence with authority, scoring a one-punch 1st round knockout of Chad Dawson this past June to win his first championship. The win followed a stoppage of Darnell Boone, the significance of beating a journeyman being that it avenged the lone loss of his career which occurred three years prior.
The revenge-fueled stoppage of Boone was one of nine straight wins Stevenson has enjoyed since the March ’10 loss. All nine wins have come inside the distance including his most recent ring appearance, stopping Tavoris Cloud after seven one-sided rounds this past September.
Saturday marks the third straight HBO-televised appearance for Stevenson, who at age 36 only shows signs of getting better with each fighter.
Bellew (20-1-1, 12KO) fights in his second major title fight, though his first ever bout outside of the United Kingdom region as well as on HBO. The mandatory title challenger, who turns 31 today, is unbeaten in five straight fights since a narrow points loss to then unbeaten titlist Nathan Cleverly in their Oct. ’11 thriller.
The title shot versus Stevenson comes as a result of his points win over Isaac Chilemba this past May, a rematch to their 12-round draw in March. Neither fight was worth talking about, though the lack of entertainment was more due to a poor clash of styles than what Bellew is normally accustomed to producing for his paying audience.
Will the birthday boy come up huge in his first road trip, or will Stevenson provide further evidence of why he deserves major consideration as 2013’s Fighter of the Year?
Read on to see how the staff at Boxingscene.com believes the light heavyweight championship bout will play out.
PREDICTIONS – ADONIS STEVENSON vs. TONY BELLEW
“Stevenson scores another knockout.”
- Damien Acevedo (Stevenson KO)
“I think Bellew will be game and show a sturdy chin but Stevenson will outbox him and his power will lead to a corner stoppage.”
- Ryan Burton (Stevenson KO6)
“Both legs of tonight’s HBO doubleheader feature live underdogs. However, I believe Bellew faces the greater uphill climb. A brave showing proves for naught, as Stevenson emphatically ruins his challenger’s birthday bash with a celebration of his own.”
- Jake Donovan (Stevenson KO9)
"Haitian-turned-Canadian puts another log onto his Fighter of the Year fire with another inside-the-distance win, but not without some difficulty.”
- Lyle Fitzsimmons (Stevenson TKO9)
"Stevenson is on a fighter of the year run and I think being the champ and dominating in the fashion he has only fortifies his confidence more. This fight will show why he is the best at 175.”
- Ernest Gabion (Stevenson TKO8)
“I was far from impressed with what I saw of Bellew in his two bouts with Isaac Chilemba. Though we can see prospects and contenders make seemingly sudden leaps when stepping up in competition — which essentially is what Stevenson's 2013 has been — I don't believe Bellew has what it takes to deal with Adonis.”
- David P. Greisman (Stevenson TKO)
"Let me start off by saying Bellew is one of my favorite UK fighters to watch. He always brings the action and he will bring it to Stevenson. Even though I enjoy watching Bellew his best probably won't be enough. Stevenson is hot right now and a candidate for FOY. I expect Stevenson to be at the very top of his game on control the pace of the fight. Bellew will have his moments and will stay in the fight but will be outclassed every step of the way. I expect Bellew to go down once or twice but his chin will hold up and make it to the final bell. Bellew's chin, willingness and heart simply won't be enough.”
- Timothy Kudgis (Stevenson UD)
"Adonis Stevenson unveiled a new dimension to his repertoire -- improved boxing skills -- as he surprisingly beat Tavoris Cloud on the outside. Tony Bellew is a dangerous challenger and will likely invest in some early body work. Of course, staying inside on a lethal power puncher in Stevenson can be costly, and I expect the reigning champ to sting Bellew in one such torrid exchange en route to a referee stoppage.”
- Ryan Maquiñana (Stevenson TKO9)
“Bellew will have to fight the fight of his life to come away with a victory against Stevenson. He won't. He may fight well, he may even go the distance, but he will not be victorious against the man whom has been cleaning out the LHW division. I think Stevenson's powerful shots wear down Bellew for a mid-rounds stoppage.”
- Richard Najdowski (Stevenson TKO7)
“I like Adonis Stevenson to win a decision over Bellew. I expect another solid performance from him.”
- Chris Robinson (Stevenson UD)
“Bellew showed some fighting chops against Nathan Cleverly, but he’s also shown vulnerability and there are no special effects. Stevenson improves with each outing and his speed and power are too much here.”
- Cliff Rold (Stevenson KO)
“This fight could have the potential to go in many directions. In his last fight against Tavoris Cloud, Stevenson proved he could box and not just brawl. Bellew has to be busy and not throw one punch at a time, as he won't win a fight that way in Stevenson's back yard. Look for Bellew to frustrate Stevenson during certain parts of the fight as Stevenson fights wins a close unanimous decision.”
- Francisco Salazar (Stevenson UD)
“If Stevenson has shown anything as a fighter is that he has true knockout power. Bellew hasn't faced a true puncher aside from a faded Edison Miranda last year. I see Adonis capping this fight and his stellar 2013 with another highlight reel type knockout.”
- Luis Sandoval (Stevenson KO7)
“Had it been set for a vacant belt – say two years ago - I'd have placed my bet on Bellew. However, Stevenson is the guy whose emotional level pumps up extremely high with each win, which makes him more dangerous with each ring success. With newfound confidence, he will find a spot to land his damaging left hand on Bellew. He will survive it once but not twice, and that will define the final result, even if Bellew will have fought on even terms with Stevenson before that.”
- Alexey Sukachev (Stevenson TKO8)
Adonis Stevenson 14 (11 by KO/TKO, 3 by UD)
Tony Bellew 0
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox