By Jake Donovan
The course of action is simple for World light heavyweight king Adonis Stevenson; beat Andrzej Fonfara and begin plans for a proposed showdown with the legendary Bernard Hopkins.
But what if Fonfara wins?
The disparity in the odds for Saturday’s lineal light heavyweight championship bout is similar to that of what was suggested for Floyd Mayweather’s welterweight title fight with Marcos Maidana earlier in the month. A rout was suggested on paper; the toughest challenge of Mayweather’s storied career instead came of the evening.
With that, the onus is now on Fonfara (25-2, 15KO) to prove he’s a lot better than the chances most observers give the Polish boxer of winning tonight. The 26-year old, who now trains out of Chicago, hasn’t lost in his past 16 fights, a stretch dating back to 2008, when he was knocked out by fringe contender Derrick Findlay on national television.
That loss came at middleweight. Rail-thin at 6’2”, Fonfara and his team realized a few more meals per day would be more beneficial to his career. The move has resulted in his growing into a legitimate light heavyweight contender.
Meanwhile, Stevenson’s light heavyweight championship reign is something few saw coming.
The Haiti-born, Canada-based southpaw was a late starter to the sport, eventually establishing himself as a rising super middleweight contender. The lone piece of business to settle before challenging for a title was avenging his lone defeat, which he did last March. A 6th round stoppage of Darnell Boone came three years after suffering a shocking 2nd round loss to the journeyman.
With his demons laid to rest, Stevenson set his sights on a championship. A 12th round knockout of Donovan George put the squat southpaw in position to challenge for a super middleweight title. His team instead moved in a different direction, agreeing to move up and face light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson, which allowed super middleweight titlist Carl Froch to proceed with plans for a rematch with Mikkel Kessler rather than have to stress over a mandatory title fight.
The move worked out well for both fighters, but Stevenson in particular. A one-punch, 1st round knockout emphatically announced his arrival, the centerpiece of a four-win campaign in 2013 – all by knockout – that many viewed as worth of Fighter of the Year honors.
Included in the run were stoppages over former titlist Tavoris Cloud and mandatory challenger Tony Bellew. The latter win was paired with a showcase fight for unbeaten titlist Sergey Kovalev on HBO – which aired all three of his championship bouts in 2013 - with the idea that the two would collide at some point in 2014.
Stevenson decided his career needed to head in a different direction. The 36-year old signed with high-powered boxing adviser Al Haymon earlier this year, a move that led him to Showtime, as he makes his debut on the network with his title defense versus Fonfara.
With the prize of a Hopkins showdown looming overhead, Stevenson insists he is squarely focused on the task in front of him. Fonfara, meanwhile, thrives in the role of underdog, ready to shock the world and disrupt his opponent’s future plans in the process.
Read on to see how the staff at Boxingscene.com believes tonight’s light heavyweight championship fight goes down.
BOXINGSCENE.COM PREDICTIONS: ADONIS STEVENSON vs. ANDRZEJ FONFARA
“Adonis stops him midway through.”
- Damien Acevedo (Stevenson TKO7)
“Being unbeaten in four years and with a possible unification fight coming up against Bernard Hopkins I don't see how Fonfara has the tools or the abilities to trouble the WBC champion. Only complacency from Stevenson can cause the upset here. The challenger is on a half decent run himself but nothing in his wins over the likes of Campillo suggest he beats Stevenson.”
- Shaun Brown (Stevenson TKO5)
"Adonis by KO.”
- Ryan Burton (Stevenson by KO)
"I can see two scenarios for tonight: the fight going chalk and Stevenson punching Fonfara into next week; or Fonfara offering the boxing performance of his career before gassing late and getting caught with something big. I’m going with the latter, with Stevenson having his handlers – and Bernard Hopkins – forced to sweat out future plans until he rallies late to knockout Fonfara in a bout far more competitive than most expected to have been the case.”
- Jake Donovan (Stevenson by late TKO)
“Fonfara's an OK fighter and I think there's a real chance that Stevenson is preoccupied enough by the move to Showtime and the Hopkins talk to be distracted. But while an upset here wouldn't stun me as much as some other results have, I still think Adonis is too powerful for this guy to withstand over the long haul. There may be a few moments where the challenger shines, but I think "Superman" eventually catches up and clears the way for a Hopkins fight.”
- Lyle Fitzsimmons (Stevenson UD12)
“Fonfara can make it exciting but Stevenson will be too powerful for him and eventually make the game fighter succumb to his assault.”
- Ernest Gabion (Stevenson TKO5)
"There is a reason that Adonis Stevenson was to meet Andrzej Fonfara and Sergey Kovalev was to meet Cedric Agnew in bouts building up to their proposed clash — these were opponents designed to make them look good. Fonfara is a fun, aggressive fighter, but his limitations will be clear when he steps in against the light heavyweight champion. I expect Stevenson to get a mid-round stoppage.”
- David Greisman (Stevenson by KO)
"Stevenson will treat it like the showcase fight it is. I am not high on Fonfara but hey Stevenson can take an easy defense if he wants he earned it. I feel I am being generous with 4 but hopefully can make it a fight before Stevenson times him perfectly and hits him with a soothing lullaby.”
- Timothy Kudgis (Stevenson KO4)
“Anything can happen with two power punchers but I think Stevenson has the added dimension of being able to box in spurts. I think he can set Fonfara up for a left hand down the pipe and satisfy the hometown crowd.”
- Ryan Maquinana (Stevenson TKO8)
“I like Fonfara's chances better than most. He's steady and can crack a little. Stevenson seems to react a little funny when he gets touched and one can wonder about how good his chin really is. Fonfara, like Stevenson, has been stopped before. He's got less in terms of sheer power and speed, so in a game of who lands first, the edge goes to Stevenson. An upset isn't a big shock though.”
- Cliff Rold (Stevenson by KO)
“Fonfara can punch and he could box a bit. The thing that tilts the advantage in Stevenson's favor is he's a southpaw, much more athletic, and is the more devastating puncher. Stevenson's chin is still a question mark and Fonfara could hurt him. Overall, Stevenson has the more dangerous and effective tools to pull a TKO or knockout before the ninth round.”
- Francisco Salazar (Stevenson by KO)
“…And meanwhile Stevenson does not face a tougher challenge like Segey Kovalev, Jean Pascal or Jurgen Braehmer. It’s hard not choose him as a favorite. Fonfara is a journeyman who has faced class B-level fighters and in my opinion, he hasn’t the pedigree or punching power to defeat Stevenson. This fight is like a tune up toward top challenges for Adonis. Fonfara takes many blows and I think when Stevenson hit him will be the beginning of the end.”
- Reynaldo Sanchez (Stevenson KO in 6 or less)
“I believe Stevenson's stoppage streak will continue but I think the taller, longer Fonfara will give him a bit of trouble early in the fight. I think eventually Stevenson finds his way inside and breaks Fonfara down and stops him in the later rounds.”
- Luis Sandoval (Stevenson late TKO)
"One year ago I chose Adonis Stevenson to upset odds against reigning WBC champion Chad Dawson. A year after, at the height of Stevenson's power... I will predict another upset. Chances aren't exactly high for that but lanky Pole Fonfara can box a little and can crack as well. And I'm not convinced Stevenson is all that tough. It's a payback time for him, and not in a positive sense.”
- Alexey Sukachev (Fonfara TKO5)
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox