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.

CompuBox Analysis: Stevenson vs. Cloud

by CompuBox

On June 8, Adonis Stevenson lived out a dream by winning the WBC light heavyweight title by scoring a one-punch, 76-second knockout over Chad Dawson before his adopted home crowd at the Bell Centre, where he had fought his last five fights, all of which were KO victories. The celebratory displays were spine-tingling and the crowd noise was ear-splitting. It was the best of boxing, for the power-punching Haitian was able to transform a difficult past into a bright future with a single punch.

On Saturday, the rest of his fistic life will begin with his first defense against former IBF titlist Tavoris Cloud, who, in his last fight, had lost the belt to 48-year-old Bernard Hopkins. With the win, "B-Hop" broke his own record for oldest man ever to win a major boxing title.

Will Stevenson re-ignite the magic before his beloved Bell Centre crowd or will Cloud rain on his parade with a torrent of punches?

Statistical factors that may influence the outcome include:

Read the Complete CompuBox Analysis of Adonis Stevenson vs. Tavoris Cloud 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.

Bernard Hopkins Continues to Defy Age, One Round at a Time

by Hamilton Nolan

Photo Credit: Will Hart

Bernard Hopkins is amazing in the way that only true stories can be amazing. Not in a grandiose, spectacular way, but in an all too believable series of small steps that adds up to something that seems unbelievable. On Saturday night, before a crowd chanting “B-Hop,” the 48 year-old Bernard Hopkins took a unanimous decision victory-- and a title--over the young, strong, legitimate former light heavyweight champion Tavoris Cloud at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. How? A single moment at a time.

Hopkins’ primary skills at this late stage of his career are slipping punches, stepping away from trouble, grabbing on the inside, and being surprising. Sustained offense and sustained energy are not his specialties. It does not matter. Tonight, he seized the small moments. He let Cloud expend all the energy attacking; and then, when he paused, Hopkins would land one or two or three punches, and move. Every time that Cloud missed a punch or smiled for a brief moment at his mistake, Hopkins would hit him. He did not so much beat up Cloud as make it clear that Cloud did not beat him. That was enough for him to cruise to victory by a margin of several rounds. 

Read the Full Tavoris Cloud vs. Bernard Hopkins Fight Recap on HBO.com.

Thurman, Zaveck, Salgado, Mendez Round out Saturday's Boxing

by Kieran Mulvaney

March 9's HBO boxing broadcasts will be dominated by the question of whether the seemingly ageless Bernard Hopkins can add yet another entry to the record books by defeating Tavoris Cloud and winning a world title at the age of 48.

But two other televised bouts that evening also provide intrigue and promise plenty of action.

Keith Thurman vs Jan Zaveck

Welterweight prospect Thurman has emerged from seemingly nowhere in the last several months to become something of a fan favorite. The reasons for his burgeoning popularity are clear: what he lacks in technical finesse, he makes up for in pure aggression and personality. Nor is he short of confidence: after beating Orlando Lora in Cincinnati last July, he called out no less of an opponent than Floyd Mayweather.

In his last outing, Thurman made a major statement with a dominant fourth-round stoppage of former Paul Williams conqueror Carlos Quintana; but Quintana looked a shell of the man who had faced Williams and Miguel Cotto and announced his retirement immediately afterward. There should be no such qualifications if Thurman maintains his undefeated record against Zaveck, who is an extremely tough test, and arguably the favorite entering this bout. Although Zaveck's last HBO appearance was a losing one, it was a loss that elevated his stock, as he gave Andre Berto a tough contest before being stopped on cuts.

Juan Carlos Salgado vs Argenis Mendez

Mexico's Salgado and the Dominican Mendez tangle for Salgado's junior lightweight title 18 months after they first clashed, in September 2011. In that bout, for the vacant title that Salgado now holds, the Mexican fighter eased away over the first half but had to withstand a furious rally from Mendez down the stretch, punctuated by a twelfth-round knockdown. The storming finish wasn't enough for Mendez to overcome his early points deficit, however, and Salgado took the unanimous decision.

After a no-contest in his first defense, when a clash of heads with challenger Miguel Beltran Jr. led to a cut over Salgado's left eye, the champion scraped home with a majority decision win over Martin Honorio in which two early knockdowns made the difference. Honorio then faced Mendez, who scored a comprehensive decision victory for the right to take on Salgado again.

Note: Salgado-Mendez  will be broadcast from Costa Mesa, California on HBO Latino at 8:30 PM ET/PT; Thurman-Zaveck and Bernard Hopkins-Tavoris Cloud will follow from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on HBO World Championship Boxing, beginning at 9.30 PM ET/PT.

Hopkins Just Keeps on Ticking, But Cloud Aims to Clock Him Out

by Kieran Mulvaney


It has been almost two years since, at the age of 46, Bernard Hopkins overcame Jean Pascal to regain a portion of the light-heavyweight championship and in the process surpass George Foreman as the oldest boxer ever to win a world title. One year and nine months later, he looks to improve on his own record when he challenges Tavoris Cloud for another light-heavyweight belt in Brooklyn on March 9.

Hopkins' career, for all its technical excellence, has become defined by its longevity and by Hopkins' ability to perform at a championship level long after most boxers have hung up their gloves. But the defeat of Pascal stands, so far, as Hopkins' last win.

Since then, he has stepped into the ring twice, both times against Chad Dawson. The first encounter was abortive, Hopkins crashing to his shoulder in the second round of a no-contest five months after the Pascal victory. The second was definitive: Although one judge oddly saw the contest as a draw, the other two, more accurately, scored nine of 12 rounds for Dawson. It was the only time since his first title fight, against Roy Jones in 1993, that Hopkins had been clearly and incontrovertibly defeated.

So is the journey over, the road at an end? Has Hopkins finally reached the point where even he can no longer overcome the one-two punch of the opponent in front of him and Father Time on his shoulder?

Possibly. But not necessarily.

Read the Complete Tavoris Cloud vs. Bernard Hopkins Fight Overview on HBO.com

HBO Boxing Schedule Packed with Hot Young Stars and Tested Veterans

by Kieran Mulvaney

Next week HBO returns with its second boxing broadcast of the year, a card that kicks off a series of bouts between now and the end of March. Here’s what’s on tap to take us through the first quarter of 2013:

February 16: Adrien Broner vs Gavin Rees
Atlantic City, New Jersey

Adrien Broner has come so far, so fast, and has established himself with such authority as one of the stars of the sport, that it is sometimes surprising to realize how young he is. Still only 23, he is already a two-weight world champion. Fresh off seizing a lightweight crown with the destruction of Antonio DeMarco, he takes on once-beaten British and European champ Gavin Rees in his first defense.

March 9: Bernard Hopkins vs Tavoris Cloud
Brooklyn, New York

Bernard Hopkins began his professional boxing career before Broner was born, and yet he continues to operate at the championship level. He already holds the record for the oldest boxer to win a world title, a record he secured when outpointing Jean Pascal in Montreal in 2011. He was a youngster of 46 then; now a fully mature 48, he takes on the challenge of undefeated light heavyweight titleholder Tavoris Cloud.

The undercard sees the return of always popular heavyweight Cris Arreola, and exciting young welterweight prospect Keith Thurman.

March 16: Timothy Bradley vs Ruslan Provodnikov
Carson, California

After securing a hugely controversial win against Manny Pacquiao last May, Bradley found himself with his nose pressed against the window as Pacquiao eschewed a rematch in favor of furthering his rivalry with Juan Manuel Marquez. And so, 10 months after his last ring appearance, Bradley is taking on little-known but dangerous Provodnikov, a hard-punching pressure fighter. The Desert Storm will need to be blowing at full strength to avoid the upset.

 

March 30: Brandon Rios vs Mike Alvarado
Las Vegas, Nevada

The first fight between these two junior welterweights was the consensus fight of the year in 2012 until Marquez flattened Pacquiao in December. It was a bruising, brutal, back-and-forth slobberknocker that ended in the seventh round when Rios unleashed a flurry that had Alvarado in trouble on the ropes and prompted a referee stoppage. There’s no reason to think the rematch will be any less compelling. Honestly, there’s nothing to be said about it except, in the words of Mills Lane: “Let’s get it on.”

Undercard Overview: Tavoris Cloud vs. Yusaf Mack and Bermane Stiverne vs. Ray Austin

By Nat Gottlieb

Photo: Ed Mulholland

TAVORIS CLOUD-YUSAF MACK

In the co-feature, unbeaten Cloud (22-0, 18 KOs) takes on rugged veteran Yusaf Mack (29-3-2, 17 KOs). Cloud only started boxing in 2004, and while he holds one of the belts in the light heavyweight division, he has yet to lure the kind of opponent for which a victory could elevate him to star status. So far, his best foe has been Glen Johnson. Mack is a solid opponent but he is not Bernard Hopkins, Chad Dawson or Jean Pascal -- targets Cloud covets. Those fights will come, but not if he doesn’t take care of business with Mack.

BERMANE STIVERNE-RAY AUSTIN

Stiverne (20-1, 19 KOs) is a late blooming heavyweight prospect with devastating punching power. The Haitian-born Canadian started boxing at 27, but is being mentioned as a possible opponent for Wladimir Klitschko. The 40-year-old Austin (28-5-4, 18 KOs) was knocked out in two rounds by Klitschko in 2007 and then disqualified in his last fight against heavyweight contender and Olympic gold medalist Odlanier Solis. The main thing the aging Austin has going for him is a big edge in experience. Stiverne needs to show he can put away a trial horse like Austin if he is to move closer to a title challenge.