by Cliff Rold
He didn’t match the highlight reel affect of his February 2012 knockout of Jesus Gonzales, a sure Knockout of the Year candidate, but the thunderous left of 34-year old Haitian Super Middleweight Adonis Stevenson (18-1, 15 KO) of Longueuil, Quebec, Canada, was enough to send “Superman” home early again. It took two rounds to find the sweet spot of 32-year old Noe Gonzalez (28-2, 20 KO) Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina, drawing a standing stoppage on Friday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Gonzalez came in spot on the Super Middleweight limit of 168 lbs., Stevenson just below at 167.4. The referee was Michael Griffin.
The southpaw Stevenson came out in the first with a wide stance and focus on establishing the jab. Gonzalez, tin chucked and hands up, mostly circled the ring, testing the guard of Stevenson with single shots. Stevenson just missed with some heavy lead right hooks and straight lefts.
The feeling out vibe of the first round became a marked increase in intensity from Gonzalez. He was coming forward more, snapping a hard counter attempt over a lead right from Stevenson only to find air where flesh had been. Working off his back foot, Stevenson attempted a long left, the blow just whistling in front of the chin of Gonzalez.
Gonzalez responded with a series of shoulder feints, Stevenson stutter stepping across the ring, his left always cocked. He fired the shot and landed high on the forehead of Gonzalez, Gonzalez walking forward immediately.
Both men took turns popping jabs and touching lead power shots at each other, just as equally blocking each other’s blows. It was a shot almost blocked, but not, that began the unraveling of the night for Gonzalez.
Gonzalez’s right hand just a little too loose in defense, Stevenson fired a left around it and caught the side of Gonzalez’s face. Gonzalez’s knees buckled for just a moment and Stevenson caught him with two more big lefts as Gonzalez went to the ropes. Stevenson let go a flurry of ill-intended blows, but Gonzalez battled back, loading up and letting go with his left to attempt escape.
He found nothing but more ropes waiting for him. Covering tightly, Gonzalez warded off a few blows but a big left sent his head rocking. A right uppercut came through and then another left, the blows echoing with the authority of Stevenson’s delivery. One final left smashed into the mouth of Gonzalez as Griffin stepped in to halt the action at 1:40 of round two.
The decision to stop the contest drew boos from fans who felt the hook came too quick, but Gonzalez appeared to offer little resistance to the verdict in the ring. Stevenson, in post-fight comments, seemed to want to distance himself from the unhappy fans. “I’m not the referee. The referee stopped the fight. I do my job and the referee stopped the fight.”
Stevenson deferred to his management and trainer Emmanuel Steward in calling for future opponents, but he slyly slipped in the name of undefeated IBF titlist Lucian Bute. Bute is a big draw at the Bell Centre where Friday’s fights were held. With the win, Stevenson earned a WBC bauble and a win over the organization’s #2 contender. Stevenson came into the fight rated #9 by the WBC, #7 by the WBA, #15 by the IBF, and #7 by the WBO.
It was Stevenson’s fifth-straight win, all by knockout, since suffering a second round knockout at the hands of journeyman Darnell Boone in April 2010. Gonzalez suffers the first stoppage loss of his career and first loss of any kind since falling short in a 2007 challenge of WBA Middleweight titlist Felix Sturm.
The televised opener was a pedestrian Light Heavyweight affair never threatening to steal the show from the big bangers at the top of the bill. 28-year old former Colombian Olympian Eleider Alvarez (8-0, 5 KO), 178 ½, of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, got his work in over eight rounds to score a relatively easy unanimous decision over 37-year old Rayco Saunders (22-16-2, 9 KO), 178 ¾, of Pittsburgh, California. Alvarez used a sturdy jab and patient approach to capture unanimous shutout scores of 80-72. The referee was Marlon Wright.
Jr. Lightweight: Baha Laham (8-0-1, 3 KO) D6 Leonus Marie Francoise (8-6-1, 2 KO)
The card was televised in the U.S. on ESPN2 as part of its “Friday Night Fights” series, promoted by Group Yvon Michel.
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]