Adonis Stevenson outpoints Sakio Bika to retain light heavyweight crown
By Dan Rafael, Boxing
Light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson put on a powerful display with his left hand as he easily outpointed Sakio Bika to retain the world title Saturday at the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City.
Headlining the first "Premier Boxing Champions" card on CBS -- the kickoff of regularly scheduled boxing on the network for the first time in decades thanks to Al Haymon's time-buy deal -- Stevenson, a southpaw and one of boxing's best punchers, dominated, including scoring knockdowns in the sixth and ninth rounds to retain the 175-pound world title for the fifth time.
All three judges had it for Stevenson, 116-110, 115-111 and 115-110. ESPN.com had it a 120-106 shutout for Stevenson (26-1, 21 KOs), the Haitian-born, Montreal-based crowd favorite.
Stevenson's power was evident early when he rocked Bika (32-7-3, 21 KOs) with a left hand early in the second round and then again with one late in the round.
(Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
The fight was essentially a showcase for Stevenson's powerful left hand, which he landed virtually at will. It was as though Bika, a former super middleweight titleholder moving up in weight and dropping to 0-2-1 in his last three fights, had no idea how to get away from it or how to make any adjustments.
"I won this fight. I knew Sakio Bika is a tough guy, so I prepared for 12 rounds and I put on a good show," Stevenson, who calls himself "Superman," said. "He's a tough fighter. He's never been knocked out, but I dropped him."
In the fifth round, Stevenson, 37, continued to land the left and appeared to drop Bika, 35, a native of Cameroon living in Australia, but he grabbed on to Stevenson and they both tumbled to the canvas. Referee Michael Griffin ruled it a slip, but Bika was hurt.
In the sixth round, Stevenson landed yet another clean straight left hand to knock down Bika, although he popped up and did not appear to be badly hurt. Moments before the end of the ninth round, Stevenson landed another short straight left hand to the chin and Bika went down to his rear end, but the round ended and Stevenson did not have a chance to get off another punch.
Bika had no answers and could muster almost no offense other than a few wild right hands, a couple of which landed late in the 11th round.
"He punched hard but I got a chin. I fight 12 rounds. I'm tough," Stevenson said. "I'm Superman. Superman's in the building, baby."
After the 11th round, Kevin Cunningham, Bika's trainer, was blunt with his man, telling him that he needed a knockout to win, but he never came close in the final round.
As the 12th round wore down, Stevenson, knowing he was in total command, raised his hand, eliciting cheers from his partisan crowd. Stevenson cruised through the rest of the round, although an accidental head-butt in the final seconds opened a cut over his right eye.
Next up for Stevenson is supposed to be a mandatory defense against Sergey Kovalev, who holds three of the four major sanctioning organization world title belts. Normally, sanctioning bodies do not rank titleholders from other organizations, but the WBC, whose belt lineal champion Stevenson holds, said it wants to see the biggest fight in the 175-pound division and made the unusual move of making Kovalev the mandatory challenger for its belt.
Kovalev (27-0-1, 24 KOs) has a mandatory defense of one of his belts coming in June or July against Nadjib Mohammedi (37-3, 23 KOs). Assuming Kovalev wins, the fight with Stevenson -- heavily criticized for avoiding Kovalev last year after their teams had all but made a deal -- is supposed to take place in the fall.
In the event the sides cannot make a deal -- and they probably won't -- a purse bid (a 50-50 money split) is scheduled to take place April 17, even though Kovalev still has a fight first.
Beterbiev dominates Campillo in KO win
Rising light heavyweight Artur Beterbiev, a legitimate contender despite only eight professional fights, destroyed former world titleholder Gabriel Campillo in the fourth round of a lopsided bout.
Beterbiev (8-0, 8 KOs), who earned the No. 2 ranking in a sanctioning organization in the title elimination bout, moved a step closer to a mandatory world title shot.
Beterbiev, a 30-year-old Montreal-based Russian, had a storied amateur career in which he earned Olympic berths in 2008 and '12. He did not turn pro until 2013, but has been on the fast track, having also blown out former world titleholder Tavoris Cloud in the second round in just sixth fight in September.
He got off to a very fast start as he landed a wide, but hard right hand to Campillo's chin to rock him before putting together a few more punchers to send him to the canvas midway through the first round.
Campillo (25-7-1, 12 KOs), a 36-year-old southpaw from Spain, was clearly wary of Beterbiev's power following the knockdown and spent long stretches covering up as Beterbiev dominated with his jab -- to the head and body -- before ripping him with power shots late in the third round.
In the fourth round, Beterbiev connected with a textbook right-left combination to drill Campillo, who was on the ropes and out on his feet from the right and on his way down when he got nailed with the left.
Referee Marlon B. Wright did not bother to count, calling off the fight at 2 minutes, 23 seconds as Campillo lay on the canvas with a bloody face.
"I don't come in the ring for knockouts," Beterbiev said through a translator. "I'm very happy to have the opportunity to go four rounds. I could try my techniques. That's my objective."
Beterbiev has never gone past four full rounds. This was just the second bout that he was even taken into the fourth round.
Dan Rafael, Boxing