A Contrast in Conquerors

by Eric Raskin


The record books will show that Adonis Stevenson and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. both won light heavyweight fights on the night of Sept. 29, 2013. That is quite literally where the similarities end.

While Stevenson elevated his stock significantly by shutting out and stopping Tavoris Cloud in his first defense of the lineal 175-pound title, Chavez’s reputation was decimated in what three California judges, but hardly anybody else, deemed a decision victory over journeyman Brian Vera. At age 27, Chavez’s questionable training habits are causing him to regress as both a fighter and an attraction. At age 36, Stevenson is still approaching his peak and is on the verge of genuine stardom earned with his fists, not his heritage.

In the opening bout of the split-site doubleheader, Stevenson returned to the scene of his shocking title win three months ago over Chad Dawson, the Bell Centre in Montreal. The southpaw self-styled “Superman” soared past Dawson with a first-round knockout, but the mere 76 seconds of action left us with plenty of questions. For seven rounds against former beltholder Cloud, Stevenson provided answers.

Read the Complete Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Bryan Vera Fight Recap on HBO.com.

Emotional in Victory, Stevenson Thought of Steward

by Kieran Mulvaney


When Adonis Stevenson flattened Chad Dawson with a left hook less than a minute into their light-heavyweight title clash in Montreal in June, prompting referee Michael Griffin to call a halt to the action even after Dawson hauled himself unsteadily to his feet, his reaction at becoming a world champion was one of unbridled enthusiasm. Eyes wide, mouth open, screaming in delight, he tore round the ring, leaped into the air, hugged his team and bounced off the ropes in unrestrained delight, before seeming to yield to the momentousness of the occasion and sinking to his knees in tears.

It was a refreshingly open and emotional response to victory, a testament to the years of struggle that so many fighters endure and the ecstasy that envelopes them when they clamber to the top of the summit. And for Stevenson, it was also so much more: it was gratitude for the man who helped make it happen, who had faith in him and predicted this moment but did not live long enough to see it.

Emanuel Steward, beloved trainer and HBO boxing analyst, had taken over as Stevenson's chief second early the previous year, and ever since had been preaching to anyone who would listen that his new charge was the next big thing at 175 pounds. Tragically, Steward became ill and died in October 2012, leaving his nephew, Javon "Sugar" Hill, to take his place in Stevenson's corner; and in the space of those wild seconds after the referee ruled Dawson unable to continue, Stevenson's emotions ran the gamut from relief to joy to sadness.

"I was really happy because it was a lot of work with my team," Stevenson told Inside HBO Boxing. "I wanted to prove what Emanuel had said. Before the fight, I had a picture of Emanuel in my room. And I looked at the picture and I said, 'I'm going to win the title for you Emanuel. I got it.' I told Javon Hill too, 'We're going to bring the title back, to Detroit, to Kronk Gym, and I know Emanuel is in the room and watching.'"

Even though Steward was only with him for a short period of time, his influence on Stevenson is clear, as is the gratitude the fighter retains for the faith the trainer placed in him.

"I'm very happy to have worked with Emanuel, because he believed in me and gave me time and advice," he said. "He said to me that I would be a world champion. He told Yvon [Michel] my promoter, that if I got a chance to fight Chad Dawson, we should make the fight happen, because he knew Chad Dawson, he trained Chad Dawson, and he knew me very well too. I wish Emanuel had been there to see it, because sometimes when he would say good things about me, people wouldn't always believe it. And now they can see for themselves."

A short while later, as Stevenson took a break from shooting promotional photos and video in his gold Kronk Gym boxing gear, he pointed to his trunks – the same trunks he wore when he knocked out Dawson.

"Emanuel gave me these," he said. "He told me I would win a world title wearing them."

"I'll bet even he didn't imagine you'd do it in less than 90 seconds," came the reply.

"No," agreed Stevenson, and his mouth spread into a wide smile. "But he would have loved that I did."

Read the full Quick Hits interview with Adonis Stevenson on HBO.com.

A Double Header of Questions

by Nat Gottlieb

 

The only certain thing about the split-site doubleheader on Sept. 28 is that with four aggressive, action fighters in the two main bouts, sparks are going to fly, pain is going to be inflicted, and bodies are likely to hit the canvas. But that's where the certainty ends. There are so many question marks surrounding the Chavez-Vera and Stevenson-Cloud bouts, so many multiple-choice answers as to who will win each fight and why, that this enigmatic twin-bill gives new meaning to one of Larry Merchant's favorite sayings: "That's why they make the fights." 

Still, it's intriguing to ponder the countless intangibles in these fights, starting with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who will be trying to come back from his only career loss, taking on Brian Vera, a seasoned brawler facing the biggest, most important fight of his life.

Read the Complete Juilo Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Bryan Vera Fight Overview on HBO.com.

HBO Boxing Gears Up For Epic Fall Season

by Kieran Mulvaney

Summer is officially over, and its demise presages the start of HBO's Epic Fall Boxing Season (download poster). From now until late November, HBO is broadcasting bouts from four countries – the United States, Canada, Russia, and China – across three continents, featuring fighters from super bantamweight to heavyweight. Here's a brief rundown of what the first half of that schedule has in store:

September 28: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs Bryan Vera

Chavez returns in his first outing since losing to middleweight champ Sergio Martinez 12 months ago. Can he return to winning ways against Vera, a gritty competitor best known for his 2008 upset win over Andy Lee, but who also owns victories over the likes of Sergio Mora and Sergiy Dzinziruk? Also on this international  double-header, light-heavyweight Adonis Stevenson, fresh off his stunning one-round knockout of Chad Dawson, takes on former titlist Tavoris Cloud in Montreal. A previously scheduled bout between British heavyweights David Haye and Tyson Fury has been canceled.

October 5: Miguel Cotto vs Delvin Rodriguez

For the first time in his professional career, future Hall-of-Famer Cotto suffered back-to-back losses in 2012. But after taking nine months away from the ring and joining forces with trainer Freddie Roach, Cotto is ready to take on Rodriguez— who defeated Pawel Wolak on the undercard of Cotto's revenge win over Antonio Margarito in 2011—in a junior middleweight bout from Orlando. The co-main event will feature rising lightweight star Terence Crawford, while the broadcast will also include Wladimir Klitschko defending his heavyweight belts against Alexander Povetkin in Moscow.

October 12: Timothy Bradley vs. Juan Manuel Marquez

HBO returns to Las Vegas for pay-per-view action featuring the two men who scored victories over Manny Pacquiao last year. Marquez is lacing them up for the first time since his sensational knockout win in December, while Bradley's most recent action was a fight-of-the-year candidate in which he survived being rocked in the first and knocked down in the 12th to score a points win over Ruslan Provodnikov.

October 19: Mike Alvarado vs Ruslan Provodnikov

Despite dropping a decision to Bradley, Provodnikov's stock rose on the back of his stellar performance, and his reward is a mouth-watering battle with fellow junior welterweight Alvarado. Alvarado avenged last year's loss to Brandon Rios in a hellacious rematch in March, and will be fighting in front of his hometown Denver crowd for the first time as a champion.

The month ends with the October 26 return of "The Fight Game with Jim Lampley". November brings another flurry of action featuring Gennady Golovkin defending his middleweight crown against Curtis Stevens in New York; Rocky Martinez against Mikey Garcia and Nonito Donaire against Vic Darchinyan in Corpus Christi, Texas; and a pay-per-view blockbuster in Macau, China, where Manny Pacquiao takes on Brandon Rios. We'll preview that action, and provide more in-depth analysis of the fights thumbnailed above, over the coming weeks.