It was a fight very much like a comic book. The Superman came out early and strong. He used the powers we’re all familiar with to seemingly walk through his foe. It looked like another job well done, wave to the citizens, and go back to the fortress of solitude. But then it was all part of the plan. His rival was expecting it, even encouraging it. We all turned page after page in anticipation. Then came the point where it seemed like the bad guy had the Superman right where he wanted him. He had him at his lowest point. Perhaps there would be no happy ending, no celebration at the end of this book. But somehow, some way the Superman proved why he’s super. He dug deep, he used his wits and ultimately succeeded. That was the tale of tonight’s fight between Adonis Stevenson and Andrzej Fonfara.
Fonfara, like any good rival, quickly jumped all over Stevenson. His jab to the body was exceptional, and he threw a nice right hook. Stevenson reached back and launched a big left hand, as you’d expect, that connected with Fonfara and down he went. Stevenson wasted no time. He wanted nothing more than another easy first round stoppage. Fonfara rose to his feet, and despite eating just about every punch Stevenson threw, survived the round.
At some point during the 4th round there was a momentum shift. It was all Stevenson until that point. It was slight, but obvious enough that I had Fonfara winning that round. The following round saw Stevenson sending Fonfara to the canvas after he landed a straight left to the body. Fonfara grimaced in pain, but rose quickly and erased any emotion from his face. Stevenson jumped in again and this time emptied both magazines. Stevenson threw every punch, from every angle. He chased Fonfara from corner to corner. The whole time I’m thinking to myself that Stevenson should slow down. The repercussions, should he fail to stop Fonfara, could greatly impact the fight. That it did.
At that point, I could see an argument for a shutout in favor of the Superman. This follows the narrative of most comic book stories. Stevenson blew him out of the water early, but of course, it would slowly unravel. The second half of the fight was a completely different story. I scored the second half of the fight 57-56 in favor of Fonfara.
The root of the shift began in the 5th when Stevenson tried to finish Fonfara. The consequence was fatigue for Stevenson and it truly began to make it’s impact on the fight in the 8th round. Fonfara was busy, pushing the pace, and matching Stevenson’s output when he was active. That alone was enough to win rounds as Stevenson chose to initiate clinches. The momentum was quietly shifting as the rounds went on.
The 9th round would be the low point for the Superman. Fonfara caught Stevenson with a right hook and followed with a left hand that dropped Stevenson. Fonfara suddenly appeared to be on the road to stopping him. He unloaded a variety of punches trying to get rid of Stevenson., but Stevenson held on.
Following the knockdown Stevenson made a wise adjustment. He fought more on the inside and focused on throwing to the body. He probably figured that if Fonfara was going to fight fire with fire, he would take any fuel Fonfara had away. It was clear Stevenson didn’t have the same zip on his punches as he did in the earlier rounds, but they still landed with an audible thud. The adjustment would save the day. Stevenson would avoid defeat and live to fight another day.
And now the internet is ablaze with criticism of Stevenson. Those (who were probably not fans of Stevenson to start) are proclaiming Kovalev as the king of the light heavyweight division. Some are saying Hopkins will chew up Stevenson and spit him out for breakfast. I’m sure there’s at least one crazy person out there that thinks Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. wrecks Stevenson.
While those are all possibilities, I think it’s too early to tell. Kovalev, despite his wrecking ball offense, is still pretty limited defensively and we’re not too sure what’s going to happen when he’s in with a top light heavyweight contender. Hopkins is so wily that it’s best not to say anything about what he can and can’t do. I think we all are on the same page about Chavez Jr, so let’s not beat that dead horse.
Why isn’t the option called ‘maybe we didn’t do our homework on Andrzej Fonfara’ not available here? Maybe Fonfara wasn’t just a stay-busy fight. Maybe Fonfara was overlooked. He showed a tremendous chin and heart. The body shots he was hit with were crushing, and still he rose and fought on. His jab at times was excellent and his tenacity (or foolishness) to punch with Stevenson was shocking. Perhaps, it’s time to give credit to Fonfara. The guy fought a terrific fight and came up short in the best way possible. Nobody wants a moral victory, but in this scenario, I feel it guarantees another shot on HBO or Showtime. I certainly wouldn’t be adverse to catching another Fonfara fight.
What can’t be denied is both combatants put on a show. It was a far more entertaining fight than I had anticipated. I figured another quick Stevenson knockout and on with life. Instead, we got a good 12 rounds of action in a division that has been full of one-sided fights at the top level. The 10 fight consecutive knockout streak is over, but I have a feeling it won’t be too long before we see another one start for Stevenson.
As for the undercard, David Lemieux and Fernando Guerrero kept their promise to provide fireworks. Lemieux came out and made it very clear that he didn’t plan to be out there very long. Lemieux threw nothing but power shots while Guerrero could only try to potshot. Lemieux was too fast and too powerful. At the end of the second round, a grotesque cut opened up above Guerrero’s right eye. The blood flow was so bad that at one point, Guerrero took a knee so the ring doctor could have a look at it. Lemieux ended the war with a right uppercut that sent Guerrero to the canvas. The referee would wave it off and Lemieux would take a third round knockout.
Jermell Charlo overcame early adversity against Charlie Ota. Charlo was knocked down in the third round and was outworked in several of the early rounds. Charlo continued to make tactical adjustments to beat Ota to the punch. Ota may have injured his hand at some point during the fight, and his nearly swollen shut left eye may have had something to do with his lackluster second half performance. As for the future, Charlo still remains one of the top prospects in the sport. He’s probably 1 fight away from legitimately challenging for one of the titles at 154 lbs.
If you didn’t catch the fights, a replay will air Sunday at 9 AM ET/PT on Showtime and Tuesday at 10 PM ET/PT on Showtime Extreme.