Most expected it to be competitive, or at least action-packed. It was neither. Adonis Stevenson easily outclassed Tavoris Cloud tonight at the Bell Centre in Montreal, repeatedly hurting the challenger and forcing his corner to stop the fight after seven rounds, making for a very successful first title defense for the WBC light heavyweight champ.
Stevenson (22-1, 19 KO) looked stronger and faster than Cloud (24-2, 19 KO) from the get-go, and that just never changed. A tentative Cloud failed to let his hands go all night, allowing the 36-year-old Stevenson to win not just through his sheer, freakish punching power, but also with boxing skill that looked simply beyond Cloud's level.
It can't be considered a total surprise, given that Cloud was pretty easily handled earlier this year by the crafty Bernard Hopkins, and almost everyone felt he deserved to lose in 2012 to Gabriel Campillo, too. What's surprising is not that Cloud failed tonight, but that Stevenson so thoroughly succeeded. After all, the Haitian-Canadian has not exactly been known as a stylist or a technically proficient boxer in the past, but tonight he clowned Cloud, showboating as early as round two with an Ali Shuffle, and later dropping his hands and daring Cloud to attack.
For the 31-year-old American Cloud, this is a pretty demoralizing loss. He landed maybe a handful of clean punches in the fight, couldn't deal with Stevenson's lateral movement at all, and looked at times as if he were simply a clueless nobody, rather than a former IBF titlist and supposed top contender. He made Stevenson look better than most anyone thought Stevenson was.
The final punch stats shown on HBO had Cloud throwing a measly 176 punches, landing just 36 of them (20%), compared to 108/434 (25%) for Stevenson, and it was Stevenson who landed all the damaging punches, too. Only 55 of Cloud's thrown punches were power punches, landing 15 (27%). Stevenson was 85/160 on power punches, for a devastating 53% connect rate. In other words, it was just no contest in there.
"I beat two champions in four months," Stevenson said to HBO's Max Kellerman after the fight, clearly proud of his effort as more of a boxer than just a ferocious puncher.
Asked about his future prospects, Stevenson noted that he has to face Tony Bellew first, but after that, Sergey Kovalev may be an option. "I have my mandatory next. Sergey needs to fight a couple champions, too. I'll let my promoter fix that. I don't have a problem." On January's scheduled HBO fight between Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal, Stevenson said, "I'll be there watching the fight. It's an interesting fight."
Another weekend, another controversy. Par for the course for boxing fans and the sport itself, which will snicker and giggle into the shadows once again, confident that 90% of the diehard audience that tuned in will return for their next extravaganza, merely bitching and moaning, unable to actually right any of the sport's absurd wrongs.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr won a controversial 10-round decision tonight over Bryan Vera on scores of 96-94, 97-93, and 98-92. BLH had it 97-93 for Vera. Most media members and knowledgable fans on Twitter had it 7-3 or 6-4 for Vera. A draw would not have been crazy. A 96-94 Chavez card isn't preposterous, perhaps. But seeing seven or eight rounds of this fight for Chavez "is what it is," as the boxing world loves to say.
"Come on, man," Vera told Jim Lampley of HBO after the fight at ringside. Hey. It is what it is, Bryan. It is what it is.
Vera (23-7, 14 KO) outworked Chavez (47-1-1, 32 KO) over the entire fight, with the Mexican star given credit, it would seem, for occasionally landing what appeared to be "thunderous" shots. The fact that they only twice or maybe three times so much as wobbled Vera never seemed to make any difference in how people saw those shots, Lampley and broadcast partner Andre Ward in particular. "Hard left hook!" Was it? Well, it was supposed to be.
As Chavez was the much bigger man -- ridiculously so, in fact -- it was assumed that his power, already an overrated asset of his, would be a difference maker. But as the fight wore on and it was clear that Chavez couldn't do more than momentarily buzz Vera before the Texan got right back to coming straight at him, it seemed like it was entirely reasonable to think that maybe, just maybe, Chavez's supposed monster hooks and right hands weren't exactly doing the sort of damage that the narrative needed.
But it is what it is.
Vera connected with more clean, hard shots than Chavez did, and realistically, he did at least as much damage. Chavez was marked up pretty badly as he huffed and puffed his way through the fight, cautiously staying away from Vera as much as he possibly could, hoping he could sluggishly stroll around the ring and avoid mixing it up with a guy who was in much better condition. Vera came forward, Vera put the pressure on, Vera controlled the pace, and Vera threw and landed far more punches. Vera did as much damage to Chavez as Chavez did to Vera, too, so the idea that Chavez won rounds because he would land a punch or two very cleanly is a bit suspect.
Ah, well. It is what it is.
One impressive win/ShutOut, and another travesty that makes me despair for the sport of Boxing. JCC paid off Vera's corner to fight even though he couldn't make 168lbs, he looked slow, sloppy and generally a shell of the fighter leading up to the Martinez fight.