Stevenson Launches New Kronk Era with One Punch

by Kieran Mulvaney

Adonis Stevenson - Photo: Ed Mulholland

Boxing can be like a game of concussive chess, a cerebral challenge as much as a physical confrontation, two men laying and avoiding traps and adapting to changes in strategy over 12 three-minute rounds.

Or it can be shockingly abbreviated and violently conclusive, with one punch sufficient to end proceedings with whiplash rapidity.

In Montreal on Saturday night it was the latter. Chad Dawson was relieved of his light-heavyweight crown by Adonis Stevenson a mere 76 seconds after the bell rang to begin the contest. It's entirely possible that some of the multitude who, as is the case these days, filled the ring to capacity during Michael Buffer's opening orations had not even reached their seats before it was time for them to turn around and clamber back between the ropes again.

Read the Complete Chad Dawson vs. Adonis Stevenson Fight Recap on HBO.com.

CompuBox Analysis: Dawson vs. Stevenson

by CompuBox

Saturday night's fight between WBC light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson and Adonis Stevenson bucks several well-established boxing trends. Consider:

* Champions usually enjoy the home ring advantage but here Dawson is defending in Montreal, the adopted hometown of the Haitian-born Stevenson. Worse yet for Dawson, they are fighting at the Bell Centre, where Stevenson has fought his last five matches and seven of his last nine.

* The older fighter usually has an edge in experience, but this time the 33-year-old Dawson -- two years younger than Stevenson (who turned pro at age 29)  -- has logged more rounds in championship fights (93) than Stevenson has registered as a professional (79).

* Once a fighter leaves a trainer, he stays gone. But Dawson, a 7-1 favorite over Stevenson,  has returned to Eddie Mustafa Muhammad after splitting with John Scully, who was his guide for the last three fights.

Will the fight also defy conventional wisdom and actually be a barn-burner?  Their CompuBox histories offer the following clues:

Read the Complete Chad Dawson vs. Adonis Stevenson CompuBox Analysis on HBO.com.

CompuBox Analysis: Gamboa vs. Perez

by CompuBox
Darleys Perez, Yuriorkis Gamboa - Photo: Ed Mulholland

A generation ago, long layoffs were considered poison to boxers. "To rest is to rust," went the credo. But starting with Sugar Ray Leonard's incredible return against Marvelous Marvin Hagler and continuing with Vitali Klitschko and Floyd Mayweather Jr., that conventional wisdom has been turned on its head.

Former two-belt featherweight titlist Yuriorkis Gamboa hopes to emulate their success, for on Saturday he will be fighting for just the second time since September 2011 (and the first time in seven months). The opponent is 28-0 Colombian Darley Perez, whose last fight was a day less than three months ago (W 8 Julio Camano) and who is fighting for the sixth time since September 2011.

Is fresher better or time off mean better timing? The two philosophies will butt heads on Saturday and their respective CompuBox profiles offer these clues as to who might emerge victorious:

 

 

Dawson Back on Track After Weighty Issues

by Kieran Mulvaney

Andre Ward, Chad Dawson - Photo: Will Hart

There is no shame in losing to Andre Ward. Every one of the 26 professional opponents he has faced has done so. But for Ward's most recent victim – light-heavyweight titlist Chad Dawson, who faces Adonis Stevenson on HBO Boxing After Dark on Saturday – the 10th round stoppage loss he suffered last September was only partly due to the skillful way in which Ward routinely beats people up. A lot of it had to do with the decision Dawson made to move down from 175 pounds to 168, and challenge Ward on the latter's super-middleweight turf.

"I wrote a check my body couldn't physically cash," Dawson said recently to Tris Dixon of Britain's Boxing News magazine. "He's a great fighter and I would love that rematch, but at 175 pounds I would never touch super-middleweight again."

While moving up through the weight divisions over the course of a career is the rule rather than the exception, Dawson is the latest in a relatively short line of recent professional prizefighters to find that shedding pounds and moving down in weight rarely works out well.

Roy Jones was never the same after moving back to 175 pounds following his brief venture into the heavyweight division in 2003. Sugar Ray Leonard was taken apart when he challenged Terry Norris for a title at junior middleweight – a weight at which he hadn't fought in seven years. Oscar De La Hoya dropped down to welterweight to meet a Manny Pacquiao who was moving up from lightweight, and was beaten so badly he soon retired.

There were additional reasons for all those outcomes: Jones at his peerless peak dominated foes with almost superhuman reflexes, and once they slowed a fraction with age, he descended to the realm of mere mortals; Leonard, at 35, was taking on a 24-year-old champion who is now enshrined alongside him in the Hall of Fame; and De La Hoya was reaching the end of his storied career anyway. But the strains placed on their bodies to squeeze extra pounds out of their system in all cases almost certainly contributed to their respective demises.

Why is it so rare for boxers to drop down in weight, and so rarely a positive move when they do? For one thing, if it were easy to lose six or seven pounds, we'd all be doing it. For another, the examples above all involve boxers in their thirties, when bodies are mature and metabolisms battle with extra determination to hold on to every spare ounce.

Plus, chances are that a boxer– if he fights, for example, at light-heavyweight –has already had to lose 10 pounds or more just to reach the 175-pound limit. Dropping down to super-middleweight is therefore a case of dropping not seven pounds but 17; and the final few in particular of those pounds must be wrung out of a frame that is already virtually fat free and bone dry.

Small wonder, then, that rehydrating once the weigh-in is over can cause a boxer to expand like a sponge dropped in a bathtub – Dawson entered the ring against Ward weighing 192 pounds, 24 more than he had registered on the scales the previous day – or that a fighter can be drained by the whole process of squeezing himself into his usual weight class, let alone one that requires even more sacrifice.

It is of course possible that Dawson would have lost to Ward that night no matter the weight at which they fought; the man from Oakland is regarded as one of the top two talents in the game for a reason. Maybe, if Dawson resumes his winning ways atop the light-heavyweight division, we will eventually find out, should Ward exhaust his options at 168 pounds and move up in search of new challenges.

Before then, of course, Dawson has more immediate concerns: specifically, how to overcome the challenge of once-beaten Stevenson, a power-punching fellow southpaw. Stevenson, a career super-middleweight, is moving up a division – a move more common than Dawson's effort to move down. Dawson will be aiming to make sure it is no more successful.

Steward’s Spirit Felt by Both Dawson, Stevenson

by Kieran Mulvaney

When Chad Dawson and Adonis Stevenson meet in Montreal on HBO Boxing After Dark on Saturday night, it will be a clash of two southpaws with different styles. Defending light-heavyweight titlist Dawson is a technician, a boxer-puncher with emphasis on the boxer; Stevenson is an action fighter with knockout power. But aside from their profession, their favored hand and their weight class, they have one other thing in common: As Eric Raskin notes in the fight overview on HBO.com, both have been trained by Emanuel Steward, whose insight for so long elucidated the sport for fans and clarified strategy and tactics for fighters.

Dawson turned to Steward at the end of 2010, after losing his light-heavyweight belt to Jean Pascal.

"At this stage of my career, I'm only going to work with fighters who can achieve greatness, and I see greatness in Chad Dawson," Steward enthused at the time. "Chad Dawson will regain his light heavyweight title and perhaps add titles in the super middleweight and cruiserweight divisions. He is that talented."

The first step in Dawson’s recovery from the Pascal loss was a meeting with Adrian Diaconu in May 2011. Steward was in the corner for that clash; during the build-up to it, he spoke optimistically of how his new charge, at times infamously diffident in the ring, was becoming imbued with the spirit of his most famous pupil. "Chad is very talented. He just has to remain focused and aggressive," Steward said. "He can be a little too laid back. He trained at the Kronk Gym. He's picked up a bit of Tommy Hearns' aggression."

Their first fight together yielded the desired victory, after which boxer and trainer pivoted toward a matchup with new light-heavyweight kingpin Bernard Hopkins, who had defeated Pascal on the same card as Dawson’s win over Diaconu. But with the clash just a few weeks away, the two men parted company, with Dawson apparently preferring to train in the Poconos mountains rather than travel back to Detroit and the Kronk.

So be it; such things happen often in boxing. Steward had helped Dawson get back on track, and the boxer would ultimately defeat Hopkins in the biggest win of his career. Steward continued with his ringside work for HBO and as a trainer; in early 2012, he joined forces with a hard-hitting super-middleweight about whom he could not have been more enthusiastic. His name was Adonis Stevenson.

"I've had many world champions but his punching power and intensity is not normal. I'm very excited about Adonis and I can't see any 168-pounder not having a very tough time against him," he raved. Stevenson’s preparation at the Kronk for a scheduled 12-rounder against Jesus Gonzales was "phenomenal": Of all the champions to have trained at the famous gym, he said, "Adonis has created the most excitement."

Stevenson destroyed Gonzales inside a round; two months later, in April, he needed only two rounds to knock out Noe Gonzalez.

Stevenson fought again last October, but this time Steward could not be in his corner. He had been taken seriously ill and been hospitalized; two weeks after Stevenson defeated Don George by TKO, Steward died.

Stevenson, who said Steward was "like a father" to him, said recently that, "I didn’t want to believe he was gone and passed away."

In that, he is far from alone. Almost eight months later, Steward’s passing still hurts and his absence – his knowledge, his enthusiasm, his warmth – is missed around boxing on a daily basis. But his influence lives on, and it will find expression on Saturday when two men meet each other in the ring, each of them looking to deploy skills and techniques that Emanuel Steward taught them.

Related: Inside HBO Boxing remembers Manny Steward.

Andre Ward Scouting Report: Dawson vs. Stevenson

Andre Ward previews Saturday's matchup between Chad Dawson and Adonis Stevenson.

Is Yuriorkis Gamboa Too Good for His Own Good?

by Hamilton Nolan

Yuriorkis Gamboa may be the most talented boxer in the world. Not the most polished boxer; he throws punches in a blur of curvature in which jabs, hooks, and crosses become misnomers. Not the craftiest boxer either; he tends to spend the greater part of most fights with his hands down, goading his opponent out of sheer boredom. But for pure, otherworldly talent -- unapproachable speed, knockout power, overwhelming combination punching, sublime footwork -- there is no one on earth more blessed than Gamboa. Now if he could only figure out how to turn that talent into a decent career.

Let us very briefly get the pedigree of "El Ciclon de Guantanmo" out of the way: a 2004 Olympic gold medal. Multiple Cuban national championships. A defection to America, followed by a 22-0 pro record with 16 knockouts. Gamboa has been knocked down plenty of times, but it almost seems as though he’s so good that he takes stupid risks in the ring just to challenge himself. But he has never truly been challenged. And there lies the problem.

 

Unorthodox: Dissimilar Southpaws Clash in Dawson vs. Stevenson

 by Eric Raskin

Chad Dawson, a light heavyweight for 12 of his last 13 bouts, found out in the hardest way possible that he doesn’t belong one division below. Adonis Stevenson, a super middleweight for the first 20 contests of his 21-fight pro career, is about to find out, possibly in a less-than-gentle way, whether he belongs one division above.

In his most recent fight, Dawson took an enormous gamble and came away, like so many gamblers do, with only a bad-beat story to show for it. He moved down a weight class and fought arguably the best all-around fighter in the world today, super middleweight champ Andre Ward, and whether it was the weight loss or the talent of his opponent that was to blame, Dawson suffered three knockdowns en route to a 10th-round TKO loss. Now it’s Stevenson’s turn to gamble. Though relatively untested, the Quebec-based Haitian is 35 years old and can’t wait around much longer, so he’s hopping up a weight class (after one tune-up bout fought at a catchweight of 173 pounds) and challenging the class of the 175-pound division in Dawson.

The seven-pound difference between the super middle and light heavy limits makes for an interesting driver of discussion, but weight isn’t likely to determine the outcome of this fight. The more impactful contrasts lie in style and experience. Dawson is a battle-tested technician. Stevenson is a knockout artist without a top-10 contender on his resume. It’s not as though Dawson and Stevenson have nothing in common; they’re both southpaws and they both were briefly trained by the late, legendary Emanuel Steward. But aside from those two shared traits, the champion and challenger who will meet at Montreal’s Bell Centre on June 8 are coming at this fight from diametrically opposed angles.

And that is often a formula for explosive collisions.

Read the Complete Chad Dawson vs. Adonis Stevenson Fight Overview at HBO.com.