By Jake Donovan
The worst question you can ask a fighter prior to a fight is who he would next like to face; the answer is almost always, “I’m focused on the opponent in front of me.”
Adonis Stevenson isn’t afforded the same luxury. The lineal light heavyweight champion knows that—with a win over Tavoris Cloud in their September 28 HBO-televised clash at the Bell Centre in Montreal—waiting in the wings is mandatory challenger Tony Bellew, who will be seated live at ringside as a visual reminder.
Promoter Yvon Michel stated earlier in the year that he intends to have Stevenson fight four times in 2013. The last fight would be the aforementioned mandatory versus Bellew, preferably in late November or early December.
Those plans are presently on hold until he takes care of business on September 28. Stevenson’s first defense of the light heavyweight championship is no tune-up, as he faces a recently dethroned champion who only recently suffered his first—and lone—loss.
Cloud made history for all of the wrong reasons, conceding his light heavyweight belt this past March to Bernard Hopkins, who—at age 48—broke his own record in becoming the oldest fighter ever to win a major championship. It was the first fight in more than a year for Cloud, whose previous encounter was a disputed 12-round points win over Gabriel Campillo.
It remains up in the air when and where the Bellew fight will take place, or if it will take place at all. What Stevenson and his handlers are certain of, is when and where it won’t take place, dispelling rumors of the mandatory defense serving as the co-feature to Lucian Bute’s showdown with Jean Pascal next January.
“Adonis will not be on the January 18 card with Pascal and Bute,” promoter Yvon Michel confirmed Wednesday afternoon. “We will make a decision with Adonis and HBO on what will be the next step, after this fight. We can’t anticipate anything before the fight.
“We have (ideas), but if Adonis loses, there are no plans. The next opponent is Tony Bellew. We’ll see when it takes place, but after the fact.”
Pascal appears on the non-televised undercard of Stevenson’s headliner versus Cloud, facing George Blades. The bout—scheduled for 10 rounds—is Pascal’s first since last December. A win sets up the January 18 clash with Bute, also slated for the Bell Centre.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America.