by Cliff Rold
This Thursday (Friday to be exact) at midnight, a reimagining of Superman opens in theatres nationwide titled the “Man of Steel.” It looks fantastic, a new Superman for a new time.
Of course, boxing fans know something the rest of the world may not.
They already have a new Superman. He landed last Saturday night and became the Light Heavyweight Champion of the World.
Let’s go to the report card.
Pre-Fight: Speed –Dawson A; Stevenson B+/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Dawson B; Stevenson A/Post: B; A+
Pre-Fight: Defense – Dawson B+; Stevenson C/Post: F; B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Dawson B+; Stevenson B/Post: C; A
Every once in a while, a puncher comes along who just has that extra level of nuclear. Ernie Shavers was like that. So was Julian Jackson. It appears Stevenson may be as well. Like both of those men, early evidence indicates he has vulnerabilities, but if he lands almost anyone can go to sleep.
Once can’t be sure though until a fighter lands on someone who counts. Stevenson hadn’t faced a plethora of high quality foes. Dawson was a leap. Stevenson cleared it with a single bound.
Or, well, punch.
One has to wonder what Dawson was thinking. He usually fights relaxed but, knowing he’s been in trouble before, one would have thought he’d show some urgency early. To his credit, the always game Dawson got up before the ten count and protested the stoppage. He’s a real fighter at heart, something he’s shown in getting up before, in fighting through fogs before.
He’s also always been vulnerable. It’s an element that has made even some of his lesser fare intriguing. His imperfections allow room for undercurrents of drama even when none appears to be unfolding.
Can he bounce back from this defeat? This is much different from Ward. Stevenson, who entered with underrated quickness and showed it off, is a hard guy to keep from landing. Dawson isn’t going to get better at taking his shots?
More apt, who can avoid them long enough to win? Stevenson, at 35, may not have long at the top but he can put some scares into folks. Andre Ward and Bernard Hopkins have already been mentioned and that makes sense. Stevenson is the king at Light Heavyweight, but they are more established royalty around him on the scale. They would also, rightly, be seen as capable of defusing the bombs he throws by avoiding them. Does that make them appealing foes?
Or should Stevenson be looking to fellow Canadian draws like Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal? Those two, or at least the winner of whatever fight Bute and Pascal eventually have, would be a big draw in Montreal. It would also likely be easier to win and more fun to watch. So would someone like Tavoris Cloud.
And, dreaming aloud, could anything be better from an action point of view than a power clash with fellow banger Sergey Kovalev?
But maybe Stevenson is cut from the cloth that says he wants the biggest scalps. He thinks he has the power to crack even the toughest technical codes.
When you go by the moniker Superman, and then fit the bill, it’s hard not to want to soar.
Report Card Picks 2013: 25-15
Light Heavyweight: Stevenson slides into the champion’s slot while Dawson, off two straight losses, slips to number four.
Super Middleweight: Stevenson exits due to the big win at 175. Edwin Rodriguez enters the ratings at number ten.
Welterweight: Marcos Maidana enters the increasingly crowded ranks while Josesito Lopez slips just outside the top ten.
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Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org