By Jake Donovan
Adonis Stevenson looks to make the fifth defense of his World lineal light heavyweight crown as he faces Sakio Bika, a former super middleweight titlist moving up one division north.
The bout headlines on CBS, the main event for the latest installment of Al Haymon’s
Premier Boxing Champions
Stevenson (25-1, 21KOs) breathed new life into a sluggish light heavyweight division with his one-punch 1st round knockout of Chad Dawson in 2013. His rise to the top was accompanied by the breakout year of divisional peer Sergey Kovalev, an unbeaten light heavyweight with whom Stevenson was believed to be on a collision course.
Rather than following up his Fighter of the Year campaign with a mouthwatering clash with Kovalev, Stevenson went in another direction – specifically across the street from HBO to Showtime. The move included – if not encouraged by – his signing with adviser Al Haymon.
The duration of Stevenson’s 2014 campaign was spent in sparsely watched wins versus Andrzej Fonfara and Dmitry Sukhotsky, while many wondered of the direction his career was heading. Haymon’s announcement of the PBC series to air on a variety of networks helped provide clarity on the future of many of his 200+ clients – Stevenson included, as he headlines the first PBC card to air on CBS.
Bika (32-6-3, 21KOs) aims to recapture past glory, however brief his time was spent with a super middleweight belt around his waist. The Cameroon-born Australian has historically proven to be a tough out for anyone in and near the super middleweight division, but has more often than not been forced to play the bridesmaid role.
A career change came in 2007, when he came out aces in Season 2 of the Contender. His 8th round knockout win of Jaidon Codrington was by far the most thrilling of any of the finales of the boxing reality series, and the only entrant to also serve as a Fight of the Year contender.
It was also an anomaly in Bika’s career, as he has developed a reputation of not always producing fan-friendly bouts. Still, it was enough to capture a super middleweight belt, outpointing Marco Antonio Periban in June ’13 to come through on his fourth try at alphabet hardware. The duration of his reign was spent facing Anthony Dirrell, fighting to a disputed draw in their Dec. ’13 bout before falling short in the rematch last August.
Saturday’s showdown versus Stevenson marks his first ring appearance since that loss.
Read on to see how the staff at BoxingScene.com believes the action will play out Saturday afternoon in Quebec City.
BOXINGSCENE.COM STAFF PREDICTIONS:
ADONIS STEVENSON vs. SAKIO BIKA
Ryan Burton (Stevenson UD)
: Stevenson is simply the better fighter with superior skills. I think he will drop Bika but won't put him away and will win a comfortable decision.
Jake Donovan (Stevenson late KO):
Maybe it’s wishful thinking that Stevenson will WANT to go above and beyond the call of duty in this one. I don’t expect Bika to offer much than a stinker of a performance, so the onus will be on Stevenson to either accept it and coast to victory, or fight to make a statement. He’s mentioned late great trainer Emanuel Steward throughout this promotion, so I will go with blind optimism and expect his inner Kronk to burst through and become the first to stop the durable veteran.
Lyle Fitzsimmons (Stevenson Dec.):
Stevenson is a power puncher and could indeed get what he wants early, but Bika can make things awfully interesting if he’s still standing after six rounds.
David Greisman (Stevenson TKO):
Sakio Bika is 35 and has made his reputation by taking plenty of punishment in order to deliver his own. Now he's stepping up a division to face a power-puncher. That's not a good combination for him. Adonis Stevenson will take a little bit of time to adjust to Bika's awkward style and potential for head clashes before sending out hard combinations and forcing the stoppage.
Peter Lim (Stevenson Dec.):
Bika is tailor-made for Stevenson. When he is able to keep his right shoulder precisely angled toward his opponent, Stevenson is fluid, explosive and untouchable. But when forced out of that zone of invincibility, he is reduced to a jittery, vulnerable fighter. Lacking any semblance of finesse, Bika is too brutish and one-dimensional to throw Stevenson off his game. Stevenson will dictate the action and cruise to a lopsided decision, maybe even dropping Bika once or twice along the way.
John MacDonald (Stevenson UD):
Bika will hold, spoil and survive. Stevenson will win widely on the scorecards. No one will care.
Takahiro Onaga (Stevenson TKO6):
I think Bika was once very tough fighter but in recent fights I get feeling his punch resistance is declining. Stevenson hits very hard and will stop Bika.
Per-Ake Persson (Stevenson to win):
Stevenson is too good for Bika simple as that. Bika is very tough but it won´t be enough.
Cliff Rold (Stevenson Dec):
I think this fight could be a real problem for Stevenson if he doesn't land big and early. Bika is a rough guy with good stamina and a late upset wouldn't shock. That said, Bika also has a way of coming up just short in the big one's throughout his career. A late rally won't be enough and it goes to the cards.
Victor Salazar (Stevenson UD):
Bika will be making the move up to fight Stevenson in what should be a hard fought and possibly ugly fight. While Stevenson has the power to knockout just about anybody at 175, Bika’s rough style might not allow it. Stevenson should be the quicker bigger guy but Bika’s ruggedness will make this one go rounds.
Reynaldo Sanchez (Stevenson TKO8):
Bika will give Stevenson strong opposition during the early rounds. However, the Stevenson power will be the difference after the midway point.
Alexey Sukachev (Stevenson UD):
Bika is so durable and granite-chinned that I doubt Stevenson will eb able to stop him with a single punch, and Bika just won't allow more to land flush utilizing hugging, clinching and holding couple with some other dirty tricks. The bout will be viscous and not overly watchable but a knockdown or two will decide it for the champion.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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