By Zachary Alapi
CentreVideotron, Quebec City, Quebec - In a thrilling slugfest, Adonis Stevenson (28-1, 23 KOs) annihilated brave challenger Thomas Williams Jr. (20-2, 14 KOs) with a spectacular one-punch knockout in the fourth round to defend his WBC and lineal light heavyweight titles. Williams brought out the best in Stevenson, who showed impressive resolve and versatility before scoring what could be a Knockout of the Year contender.
Stevenson-Williams lived up to its explosive potential from the opening round. Stevenson walked Williams down early behind an active lead right jab as he looked to set up his vaunted left hand. With about thirty seconds left in the opening stanza, Stevenson landed a left hand to the side of Williams’ head, which knocked sideways-leaning challenger down.
Round two, however, featured a fascinating shift. Williams started to walk Stevenson down with a high guard, landing heavy right hooks from his southpaw stance. This was after another Stevenson left hand had wobbled Williams, but the American did well to stun Stevenson with a massive right at the end of the frame. This success continued into the third with Stevenson appearing uncomfortable boxing off his back foot.
To Stevenson’s credit, he turned the tide by getting close to Williams and employing a short left uppercut upstairs and hook to the body that sapped the challenger’s energy and resolve. By the fourth round, a mouse had developed over Williams’ left eye, not to mention a cut. But still, Williams stood his ground and found success with hooks during brutal exchanges.
At the start of the fourth a round, a Stevenson low blow hurt Williams, prompting referee Michael Griffin to correctly pause the action. Chopping at Williams’ core after the fight resumed with that newfound left hook to the body, Stevenson followed up with an uppercut that clearly hurt the challenger. The devastating ending, via a perfect left hand set up by a range-finding jab, came at 2:54 of the fourth. Williams was floored face-first, and though he rolled over to his side, he was unable to rise, let alone beat the count.
Stevenson had not fought in nearly a year, and his last outing was a three-round bludgeoning of an overmatched and outgunned Tommy Karpency. While Williams was not viewed as an ideal opponent, he at least brought fight-altering power to the table and was coming off an explosive knockout of Edwin Rodriguez in April. In his post-fight interview, Stevenson reiterated his desire to face the Sergey Kovalev-Andre Ward winner, although a fall fight against fellow Montrealer Eleider Alvarez seems more likely.
IN THE CO-FEATURE
Eleider Alvarez (20-0, 10 KOs) won a unanimous decision over Robert Berridge (27-5-1, 21 KOs) by scores of 99-90 and 98-92 (twice). Berridge took the fight on short notice, and although Alvarez was expected to dominate, he failed to produce the kind of explosive performance locals fans were hoping for.
The fight got off to a predictably cagey start with Alvarez stalking Berridge but failing to cut off the ring. Alvarez worked behind a steady jab as he shot right hands to Berridge’s stomach, while the New Zealander looked to counter with his southpaw left hand.
A clear pattern was established early with Berridge throwing single shots and looking to clinch in order to disrupt Alvarez’s rhythm. Alvarez kept falling short with counter right uppercuts, and his vaunted jab failed to land with authority. Despite a general unwillingness to engage, Berrdige did well to frustrate his more talented foe.
Alvarez finally started to assert himself and throw punches with conviction in round four. A crisp straight right-left hook combination early in the stanza got the ball rolling for 2008 Columbian Olympian, and he landed several sharp jabs as he applied steady pressure. In the fifth, however, Berridge found some success with single shots and smothering Alvarez, even as his right eye started to show the effects of eating a steady diet of jabs.
Berridge continued to grind in the sixth as Alvarez looked to land counter left hooks. A round later, Alvarez flashed his skills when he unleashed a counter right uppercut followed by an immediate right hand over the top that spun Berridge’s head sideways. And yet, Berridge barely seemed bothered.
During the last three rounds, Alvarez made a far more concerted effort to apply effective pressure. The hometown favorite was finally content to stay in the pocket and throw double left hooks. Round nine was Alvarez’s most effective sustained stretch of aggression, as he walked Berridge down and landed some hurtful body shots. By the end of the frame, Berridge was bleeding from his mouth. Although Alvarez didn’t exactly go for broke in the fight’s final three minutes, he built on the momentum from the previous two rounds as Berridge faded.
Alvarez-Berridge was contested at a catchweight of 180 pounds after former lineal champion Chad Dawson had to pull out of the fight due to a shoulder injury. The Montreal-based Alvarez’s most recent bout was a tight majority decision victory over Isaac Chilemba, who recently extended Sergey Kovalev the 12-round championship distance in losing a decision. Now, it appears Alvarez will get a title shot of his own. Should Adonis Stevenson defeat Thomas Williams Jr. in tonight’s main event, Alvarez is supposed to finally face him.
Immanuwel Aleem (16-0-1, 9 KOs) Majority Draw (76-74, 76-76 x 2) Demond Nicholson (17-1-1, 16 KOs)
Oscar Rivas (20-0, 15 KOs) TKO 3 Jeremiah Karpency (12-1-1, 4 KOs)
Sebastien Bouchard (14-1, 5 KOs) RTD 4 Alejandro Herrera (14-4-2, 5 KOs)