By Keith Idec
Badou Jack sensed an exhausted Adonis Stevenson was about to go down toward the end of their fight Saturday night.
Jack claimed during their post-fight press conference that if he had “maybe five, 10 seconds more,” the defending WBC light heavyweight champion would’ve hit the canvas. Had that happened, Jack would’ve received the one-point advantage he needed on two scorecards to win a unanimous decision and take Stevenson’s title.
The 40-year-old Stevenson (29-1-1, 24 KOs) held his way to the final bell, however, fought to a majority draw with Jack (22-1-3, 13 KOs) and retained his championship for the ninth time since winning it in June 2013.
When their highly competitive contest concluded, two judges – Italy’s Guido Cavalleri and Buffalo’s Eric Marlinski – scored the action even (114-114) and one judge, Jesse Reyes, of Plano, Texas, scored the fight for Jack, 115-113.
“He almost walked to the wrong corner [after the 12th round],” Jack said of Stevenson during the post-fight press conference. “He was all over the place. I mean, maybe five, 10 seconds more, he would’ve been down.”
Stevenson appeared to walk directly to his own corner once the final bell sounded. Seemingly spent and bleeding from his nose, Stevenson held Jack tight for the final 10 seconds, just to make it to the end of their 12-round fight.
Once the final bell sounded, Jack jumped up on the second rope and beat on his chest as he played to the crowd from his corner. Stevenson eventually stood on the ropes in each corner, but he looked like he could barely stand up immediately after their fight ended.
“I think that Badou finished like a champion,” Floyd Mayweather Jr., Jack’s promoter, said. “You go back and look, you can’t be in your own country and you’re a world champion, and you’re like this [bent over] at the end of the fight. You’re supposed to be like my guy [Jack], hands up. You know, my guy got hit with some good body shots. I was like, ‘Damn!’
“I was over there like, this is me, what I’m saying in my head, ‘F*ck!’ Hopefully everybody’s old enough. But I’m like, ‘F*ck! Champ, don’t do this to me. Come on, champ.’ And that’s what I’m proud of you for. You showed – you bit down and you was a true champion.”
Jack acknowledged that Stevenson hurt him with a left to the body late in the 10th round. He also gave Stevenson credit for taking his hardest head and body shots without going down.
“He could take it,” Jack said. “He’s a tough guy. He said he only needed one punch to hurt me. What happened?”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.